Archive for May, 2005


Hacky Sack

Monday, May 16th, 2005

Here’s a great example of unobtrusive Ajax in action to solve one of the most annoying problems about web forms – auto-saving textarea input so you don’t lose your uncommitted work in a browser crash.

And it’s all made possible by Gregory Wild-Smith’s Sack of Ajax library – although it’s hard to really call something that light a library, it would hardly fill an index card!


Ornithological flamefest

Friday, May 13th, 2005

There’s a certain amount of uninformed griping going on over at BurningBird.


Can’t be in two places at once.

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

Wow, I wish I had been there, heh heh.


The domino effect

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

Seth Dillingham wonders what’s up with, which seems to be ignoring pings from at least a number of blogs hosted at Conversant.

My friend Terry Frazier, very much alive, laments the implications of the ignored pings.

I was talking to Technorati‘s Derek Powazek this week at the Ajax Summit and he was telling us how their service uses these pings (and other external services from furl and to do their magic.

If we can’t be reasonably confident of service levels from these resources, how can we be confident in the other services upon which they rely? What recourse have we to demand that problems are fixed or to expect that emails will receive responses?


Back from the Ajax Summit, whistling a happy tune.

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

I’ve spent the last couple of days in San Francisco at the Ajax Summit hosted by O’Reilly and Adaptive Path. You can find notes on the summit at Ajaxian.

Many many thanks are due to Adaptive Path and O’Reilly for having the foresight to draw together such an exciting multidimensional braintrust.

Since Jesse’s article a few months ago which coined the Ajax name, the community has sounded like an orchestra warming up – many players making squeaks and squawks, adjusting their tuning along the way, the odd trumpet blast and cymbal crash. This summit brought us all together and introduced us to this new arrangement of an old favourite and while we’re not ready for Carnegie Hall, we ended up with some very pleasant harmonic passages, the odd memorable solo, and the sense amongst all of us that we’re now going off in our different directions humming our own variations of the same tune.

I came up with an architectural diagram shown below which, while open to refinement, describes for discussion purposes the layers of communication in a rich internet application, and it forms the basis of this newly arranged WebDev favourite. The toolkits that are currently available and being developed provide different ranges of coverage of the model, allowing you to:

  • have the toolkit do it all from top to bottom (e.g. Ruby on Rails)
  • provide your own back end and have the middle and front end taken care of for you (e.g. JackBe, which has an incredible toolset)
  • use a component based framework like Dojo, where you can plug in different transport (iframe, XMLHTTP, script injection) or encoding layers (XML, JSON, delimited text)
  • make browser-based RPC calls with SAJAX and do the UI part yourself
  • intertwine HTML/CSS and Flash, use Flash for behind the scenes transport and advanced presentation (did you know that there are open source Actionscript compilers now? Flash sure ain’t any more what you think it was)

These are vastly different approaches, but we agreed that they are all forms of Ajax – using sub-page information transfer to support a rich interface that allows developers to be freed from some of the constraints of conventional stateless http page-refreshing web design and to be able to better collaborate with user-experience focused UI designers to make applications that are intuitive and responsive.

Please, by all means, join into the conversation wherever you see it discussed and however you want to contribute.


Carved in stone or butter?

Saturday, May 7th, 2005

There’s a bit of a hooplah going on about modifying or deleting a blog entry or comment after it has been posted.

Scoble weighs in with his personal policy on the matter.

I often delete comments due to spam content, but never due to a difference of opinion. I suppose the main reason I might *want* to delete or modify something on my blog is because I’ve said something that I regret, and yet, I make it a policy not to.

For instance, I was somewhat snippy with a commenter recently. I dropped the f-bomb as I am sometimes wont to do, and I rather wish I hadn’t, however it was said and I don’t think it’s fair for me to a) unsay it, or b) change its tone after the fact.

If I really felt it necessary to mitigate every f-bomb on my blog, I’d go back and connect each one of them to their contributing factors – I’m pretty sure this particular one had some vintage inspiration.

I had an email conversation with a blogger recently who had disagreed with me (conversation via email because comments were broken). I pointed out how I believed he had misread me and his response was to remove his original post. I hope that once his comments are working again he reinstates it with my comment and his response to that.

Blogging can keep a history of discussions and not only their outcome but the mistakes we make along the way to finding the truth. It’s of benefit to those who follow to see the whole path, not just the end point.