Archive for April, 2007

A breath of fresh air

April 30, 2007

I read with great relief: “People Hate Making Desktop Apps…” Since When!? , a post identifing an issue that I’ve been following with interest lately.

Readers of my blog will know my opinion on bringing back a desktop client/ server based approach to development, Non readers – I’m 100% for it. I believe the multitude of ‘Web2.0’ apps being developed would simply be better as desktop applications.

The reasons for this are simple – Desktop applications:

  • Have more mature programming languages available
  • Can make use of operating system calls (including via VM)
  • Run on a decent windowing system, and behave like an application should
  • Allow offline work (still very important)
  • Allow secure (and managed) storage of data (really comes down to data ownership)

This is to name a few. Of course there are exceptions to every rule – especially the last point.

I’m not completely ruling out web-based applications where required; I regularly use web-based email for example. I would much rather have a desktop based RSS reader (client/server design) than browser. This can be said for many applications that are web based. Web-services with a decent front end – That’s the formula!

I was reading a blog post at java.sun.com which mentioned a widget toolkit for Java. I’m very interested in trying some of these out to for a couple of apps I want to write. Will digg up the link tomorrow.

I’ll be posting more on this subject I imagine- I’d like to know what other developers think.

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XHTML or HTML 4 (Strict)

April 24, 2007

I’m officially entering the redesign phase of my blog. As I’m going to start with a completely blank canvas I thought my first task may as well be to determine the doctype and how the page will be delivered. This came down to a decision of XHTML or HTML 4 and I had no idea what one with be more suited when starting a site from scratch.

The conclusion? I came across a series of posts ‘xhtml vs html 4 strict‘, The W3C XHTML Specification and No to XHTML and the general consensus is to only use xhtml where it will truely be benificial, for a website I can’t seem to find how it would be (generally).

I always correctly nest elements (I have no idea why some people don’t) and I type in lowercase anyway so the well-formedness of the document doesn’t really worry be as it would be with either.

Looks like I’ll be using HTML 4 Strict then!

Webservice Interoperability

April 17, 2007

I’ve had the joy over the last few days of working with a developer to figure out why a Web-sphere web service won’t talk to a .NET web service. The Java team were saying it was a .NET issue, and the .NET team were saying it was a java issue. The culprit? The .NET web service didn’t like an XML declaration in the soap message from the Websphere service. Both the messages (with or without) conformed to the wsi.org specifications however. Was good to get it all working and I learn’t alot about web services. I’d like to work more with them and will be making one of my own for something I’m working on.

I managed to collect a few good links on the topic:

Platform Interoperability: Sun ONE and Microsoft .NET, Achieving Asynchronous Communications

Web services programming tips and tricks: Improve the interoperability between J2EE and .NET, Part 2

Improving Web Service Interoperability

IBM WebSphere Studio and Microsoft .NET Working Together — Part 1

Opera

April 16, 2007

I tried Opera a while ago but stopped using it due to it’s lack of a quick links toolbar, not the greatest reason I know but it’s handy!

I was inspired to try it again after reading Ra’s writeup and seeing the Speed Dial feature and I’m impressed.

I havn’t used it enough so far to give a thorough opinion on it but so far: The fonts render better, everything seems quicker, and I like the smooth interface. I’m using the mouse gestures too.

Firefox is great, but it doesn’t help to try alternatives; I’m starting to think I’ll prefer Opera.

Try it and see for youself.

Screenshot

MINIX 3 and Music server

April 11, 2007

The latest release of Minix looks to be quite an interesting operating system. I’m sure we don’t need the history lesson on Minix’s relation to Linux as well as it’s extensive use in the teaching of operating system concepts, I’d do a bad job and would reccomend Google!

I’m going to try Minix 3 out in a virtual machine over the next couple of weeks and would like to see if it is capable of being set up as a music server, I don’t see why not.

I’m starting on a centralised music server which will be used by me and my flatmates to listen to a music stream. The goals being:

  • Easy to upload to; As it will be albums at a time I think I’ll go for a FTP solution and have some kind of file system structure (genre – artist – album?) Which will be reflected in the database.
  • Allow anyone with a network connection to the box to listen to streams.
  • Web based operation to change the playlist order etc (not too sure about skipping songs as that’d be annoying!)
  • XML Feed to see new uploads.
  • LAMP/ Open Source based (Goes without saying really), or could be MAMP? This will depend on compatibility.

I’m going to keep an eye out for something that fits this, I think I have an old box I could use.

Browser based operating

April 6, 2007

I was reading Ra’s blog post: Firefox OS and had been meaning to comment on it. I voiced my opinion on the subject which has been the inspiration for this post.

I’ve written about the concept before: https://elevate.wordpress.com/2006/07/09/youos-and-browser-based-desktops/ and believe it has merit. It’s not what feel is the best way forward, however.

To quote my comment (saves writing the same thing twice!):

Browser based operating systems are an interesting concept, something that I had been following last year. I know its self promotion but have a look at my post: https://elevate.wordpress.com/2006/07/09/youos-and-browser-based-desktops/

My view now is that thin clients are great, browser based operating is not!

I really don’t understand the push towards browser based applications? I’d much rather have a desktop app which implements a client server architecture through web apps than be forced to use an application within a browser. Not to mention the reliance on a third party for your data. I’m not being paranoid but why give Google all your information when it’s just as easy to keep it local? USB drives are perfect for on the run, browser based operating would be useful for travel but I think thats about it.

I’d like to see a push towards GNU/Linux based thin clients with application suites. Combine this with a media center type application and you have a very viable home entertainment computer.

I can see that happening.

I’ve head comments such as wasn’t the old client-server model so much easier” and “Catering for different browsers and maintaing usability is such a hassel”. The former also suggested (something that I’ve always had in the back of my mind) including a ‘shell application’ which was a browser wrapper but only contained what was required to render the page (no back button etc.). This would be a good solution as the browser is agreed on (no compatibility issues) and catering for events such as using the ‘back’ button at an inappropriate time are non issues.

What I’d like to see is the push towards desktop ‘Applets’; small applications that do one job and do it well.

Combine this with a portable device and you can have an on the go system or thin clien. This is what I believe is where desktop development should be heading.

Getting Sorted

April 4, 2007

I’ve recently been thinking about how I can best manage my time after work to actually get things done – the result; I’ve set the following short term goals:

  • Design a new blog and get hosted off site (thinking of dreamhost because of their excellent service or http://www.slicehost.com/ because of their flexability)
  • Create a Java RSS feed reader (I have a design in mind that I think will be quite useful)
  • Learn some basic Python
  • Improve my GNU/Linux knowledge
  • Continue with my SQL learning – I’ve had a lot of experience in this recently and would like to continue learning towards a DBA type position. This would fit in well with my interest in GNU/Linux.

Should be enough to keep me busy – Will update on progress, I’d like to see how efficiently I can get these done.