Nov 28

Java web frameworks ready themselves

Java, Tech, Web Frameworks 3 Comments »

The troops are showing signs of grouping together. Java has been under attack from other platforms. We have the ASP.NET side, and now the main source of discussion, the dynamic language side (principally Rails, but also Django/TurboGear/etc etc).

The Java side knows that in-fighting isn’t good anymore, so we are seeing more and more of the groups working together.

At first the troops gathered around the Java Web Alignment Group, a loose affiliation where nothing has really happened (it is very new).

I think it was a “we should work together!” cry, with no hard action items.

The Spring guys saw JBoss Seam, and talk of Clarity came together (along with other folks).

I certainly feel that there is room for common Java stacks, and Spring is a project that can pull this off.

Now, even more recently, a new force has entered the fray. It is the joining of WebWork and Struts. The WebWork guys have already been working with the Struts TI guys (using XWork), and I think it is a great fit.

Struts has the name. WebWork has the technology.

I can’t wait to see what comes out of the Struts Action Framework 2.0.

It is important times for Java frameworks, to see if they can compete with the simplicity and productivity of some of the other frameworks (including some of their own like RIFE).

Let the games begin.

Nov 23

Company Podcasts. Why aren’t you doing it?

Tech 117 Comments »

JBoss just announced that they are podcasting.

This makes total sense to me, and has done ever since other vendors such as Microsoft started doing it.

If you are a vendor you want to get info out there into developers hands.

Screencasts and podcasts are the new kids on the block, so if you get there first, you will get a lot of viewership. This is because there isn’t a lot of decent content right now, so get in while you have a chance to be ahead of the game!

Obviously, focus on highly technical content and NO MARKETING and you will be rewarded.

Nov 22

Paul on Web 2.0

Tech No Comments »

Paul Graham talks, people read and shout in praise or the opposite.

Everyone is getting on the “What is Web 2.0?” bandwagon, and it says a lot that we don’t really have the description in a nice little box. Maybe because it isn’t something that you can productize? It is a good marketing gimic to say:

I am Web 2.0: This means that I get it. I know how to do thh Web Right ™

In reality we are still like babies on the web in many ways, which makes it fun.

A bunch have people have been telling me that “here we go again, V.C. is putting money into dumb companies again. Bubble 2.0″.

VC’s may not be perfect, but don’t they get a bad rap some time?

I also laugh when people claim that VC’s are dumb, and were dumb back in the boom.

Of course they were not. THEY made their money. It is their job to get exits, and during the crazy IPO fever it was the retail guys that bought in!

I do love it when people say that Web 2.0 is about the users. That can only be a good thing for us.

Nov 15

Plugin Architecture: Simple, but watch out

Tech No Comments »

I have been working with Wordpress and a bunch of plugins (there are more plugins than I have had hot dinners).

It is great that you have so much out there to plugin and play, but when you actually start using some of these plugins you see a lot of abuse by the plugin writers :)

Plugin Architecture

The plugin architecture in Wordpress is amazingly simple. You throw a single php file, or a directory, in the plugins directory.

The only other thing you need to do is put some comments in the file. These are read from the plugin admin interface.

Now, it is truly great how simple this is. Anyone can write a plugin!

The problem is that… anyone can write a plugin! :)


Since the plugin API is so loose, there isn’t a specific hook to enable/disable a plugin.

In a couple of plugins that I was using, I found that the setup code was running on EVERY REQUEST.

That’s right. Every page load caused “DESC sometable” to work out if an “ALTER TABLE” needs to run.

This doesn’t have to be the case of course. You can check for $_GET["activate"] explicitly (which gets passed in the plugin activation page) and just do the setup/destroy code there.

It would be nice if Wordpress had a nicer hook than this of course.

For most things you can hook into actions and filters via add_action('action_name', 'func_name'), so maybe there will be one for plugin activation.

Nov 14

Digg Comments? Thumbs down.

Tech 6 Comments »

I had a few emails on Digg vs. Slashdot.

There are actually quite a few tweaks that one could do to take digg a bit further.

Thumbs down?

Having a simple “digg” is great in that it is so simple. One click, no questions. done.

The problem though is that this is one metric that you are gathering.

A soft digg would be someone actually clicking on the link. This means that the user at least thought it was interesting enough to check out.

We also miss the thumbs down voters. If you really hated the news you are in the same boat as someone who just wasn’t interested enough to actively digg the post.

What happens is that you end up seeing people adding comments saying “no digg from me! one year!”.

What if we had a simple Tivo-esque thumbs up/down, and we start capturing that? Still one click, still pretty simple.


The comments themselves are quite painful on digg. It feels like a dorm room, and as bad as people make out the Slashdot posts, they seem like grad schoolers in comparison to the high schoolers of Digg.

The comments are normally one liners saying “yay i love it”, or “it suxors”, and this isn’t a conversation.

It would be nice if you at least had an option for a threaded comment view, which would encourage more conversations instead of one off, contentless posts.

Nov 14

Don’t call a team a BRAND!

British, Sport 1 Comment »

Robert Kraft, the US owner of the New England Patiots (American Football), and the New England Revolution Soccer team, has been pegged as a possible owner of Liverpool football team (English Premier League).

This comes after Malcolm Glazer (another american and owner of the Tampa Bay Bucs) bought Manchester United.

Now, many claim that Kraft is very different, and actually cares and understands the game of soccer, however the first thing that the Liverpool faithful supporters here from him is:

Liverpool is a great brand

That made my cringe. A brand? This is a team that people in Liverpool spill blood over. This is their city (with Everton ;). They have an immense legacy in football, and you call it a brand????

That just keeps promoting the american stereotype!

Nov 14

Default text in CSS

Tech 7 Comments »

When we style something in CSS, we can put images as backgrounds, font colors, alignment, and much more.

If I can assign images to an element, why not some text?

How about if we could say “this id or class has the default text of FOO”. We can take the DRY principle and take it to CSS.

We get to set default text in a site/application wide CSS file, and share this throughout.

.nosuch {
text-content: "some default text";

We could also give default pre-text (always put “Error: ” before anything in the error class).

A slight abuse of CSS? Totally, but could be useful! :)

This could even be implemented a little via JavaScript behaviour (not with nice CSS syntax).

Nov 13

A good day for british sport

British, Sport 2 Comments »

It was a good day for british sport.

Football (Soccer)

England 3 – Argentina 2

Rugby Union

England 26 – Australia 16

Rugby League

Great Britain 38 – New Zealand 12


Pakistan (244-6) v England

Nov 10

Digshot: Digg vs. Slashdot

Tech No Comments »

Many are talking about Digg vs. Slashdot, and people are watching the Alexa traffic.

Some hold this as a Web 2.0 vs. 1.0 confrontation, which isn’t the case in my opinion.

I think that I probably want something that goes a little further.


With Slashdot, you get a bunch of editors who control the world. This role is important, in that it keeps a theme, and can keep up quality. It is like the role of an editor in a paper. If you like the editors, you are going to love Slashdot.


With Digg, the community is acting as the editor. This sounds great doesn’t it? Very Web 2.0 from a “partipation” standpoint.

This has a similar drawback to the editor world though. If you are in the majority (in this case, 14 to 24 year old geeks?) then you will also love the site. If you are NOT in that niche though, a lot of crud shows up. This is often the case for me. Something dumb that has the words “Digg” or “Apple” will be front page news for sure. Relying on “the people” doesn’t make this the site for you. Think of all of the immature muppets on Slashdot, and think about THEM being in control :)


In my ideal world, I would have a model that was a bit between the two. I want editors. I want them to be people I trust. Therefore, if we took the “what my friends digg” further, I could choose my editors/peers just via OPML, and ratings in my OPML.

Then I get a potentially large group (friends of a friend of a friend kinda stuff can work here), but I also get content that I actually will care about.

Maybe Digg will use some of it’s $20+MM on this? ;)

Nov 09

Symlinks and directories, versus EAR files

Java, PHP, Ruby, Tech 4 Comments »

Another post in the realm of dynamic platforms, and this time my thoughts are on deployment.

I have been working on a large web application, that is now in production.

The project before this one was on a large stack (WebSphere) and the deployment was a nightmare.

In development we had simple war’s and developers were all setup with expanded versions so they weren’t wasting time ziping up changes for a simple text change :)

However, the deployment issues were another story. They needed to be ear’d and run through a million checks on this, that, and a bit of the other.

We had to have our build system scripted to handle this all, and there were constant problems.

From that, I am now on a system where there are no such beasts as EARs. You just have good ole files and directories that the server looks too. Development is pretty much the same as deployment (bar a few optimizations that are taken care of via environment).

To jump between releases we can easily change a symlink and we are moved. An issue? we can move right back. No need to deploy/redeploy/undeploy in containers.

Bah I hear you scoff. What about all of the tools for deployment! How mickey mouse is this file based crud!

We have nice scripting via tools like Switchtower, which handles deployment very nicely indeed, and is easy to extend to do you will.

Lighter, and yet simple. Switchtower is still new-ish, so it may not do everything that you need in your deployment world… but it is getting there.