Monday, February 26, 2007

New YUI 2.2.0 DataTable control

I've decided to replace Jack Slocum's excellent grid with Yahoo's YUI 2.2.0 DataTable control. This because, though Jack's library is excellent there are - for me - 3 problems currently:
  1. In transition and pre-release. Jack is about to release a 1.0 that is expanded
  2. Performance impact. The library, though well designed, is rather large due to the features. The grid, for example, generates a full-featured div to create a very nice control. But each column header is a full table (for example).
  3. Lack of control over look.
As a library for an enterprise application the choice is clear: Jack has about the best library available, and it is free. As a foundation for a web application that required quick rendering and full control over the look and feel, however, it is much more involved.

Turning our attention, then, to the YUI controls: Part of the YUI library is quite mature and works very well. They have recently added several that are released in beta.
  • They are small and quick to render
  • The DataTable is based on a normal and fully defined HTML table
  • They have multiple bugs and incomplete code
  • The interface design is immature. For example, some methods require an integer index as a parameter to a row, but there is no way to actually get that index.
I've added something like 7 bug reports into their tracking system. But overall I'm pleased with the controls. They render very quickly. My pages are loading and rendering much quicker than with the "Ext" library. But at every step I had to either overload one of their methods or write helper methods, and have had to fill in some of the blanks where either they forgot something (creating the rowUpdateEvent for example) or simply have not supplied a required feature.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Log4Net stopped working - fixed

If you are using log4net, as I am, you may at some point bumped into the same frustration that I endured. I've been using log4X for years, starting with log4j, log4cpp and have used log4net for the past several years, but mostly in standalone .net server apps.

Recently I've started using log4net in a web application, and it worked fine...for awhile. Then it stopped. The problem? I put logging into a classes in a separate project, a projected that encapsulates all my business components and data access layer. Poof! it stopped working. The solution was simple. The AssemblyInfo.cs file in the other project also needed the following line:

[assembly: log4net.Config.XmlConfigurator()]

After putting that in all was well with the world. My UDP collector magically started seeing trace messages and I went about trying to glue back in the hair I'd just violently yanked out. Ah, the life of a developer.

New (beta) music service

I'm really not sure how this new venture is going to avoid the wrath of the RIAA and become the latest "Napster" casualty. But in the meantime, SeeqPod Music is way cool. They are spidering blogs to find published links to mp3 files and organizing a massive index to them. That, complete with a player and playlists make it a pretty useful tool.

They still have some pretty serious bugs, at least ones that appear in my Firefox browser. For example, when dragging items around in the playlist they drop into the wrong place. But for finding that old, hard to find song that you really just want to hear once and are not about to drop 99cents on iTunes to hear, this is the way to go.

Of course, the RIAA may just use it also as a massive index for their next wave of public lawsuits...

Web 2.0 Video

Really, it should be called "World 2.0" since in describing Web 2.0 it really is indicating how our world has changed with the Internet and the new applications that have emerged on it. This was produced at Kansas State University at "Digital Ethnography". It's a pretty sweet example of the sort of creativity I envy.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

School portal - no Firefox support? Huh?

Rant: I guess when you write software and design web applications for a living you can tend toward the over critical when evaluating a website. That's what happened to me recently when the school that my son attends released a new student "portal". It's written in ASP.Net and the authors used VB as the language. Interestingly enough, the site is not exactly fancy but doesn't support Firefox.

What? Let's see, this is 2007 and there is an ever growing population of Firefox users and an ever growing understanding of how to write sites to support multiple browsers gracefully. Sure we all make a mistake occasionally and some feature may not work on every browser, and may not degrade gracefully. But when your simple menu's won't work in Firefox, that's just lazy and careless. (Sort of like how they emailed everyone's password -- to everyone. oh well...)

This is sort of like Walmart's recent decision not to support Firefox -- or any browser except Internet Exploder. What of those of us who refuse to use it because of the many security concerns? Well, I hadn't intended to use Walmart's awful service anyway.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Do you Yahoo?

I was just talking to a friend about the "good 'ole days" of the Internet. Yes friends, it's been around long enough that there are those who remember how it used to be. There was a time when the concept of embedding an image of any sort into the stream of text that one normally got on gopher was something to stand in awe of. Remember Mosaic?

There also was a time when the Yahoo homepage loaded faster - or would have if we weren't connected over 9600 baud dial up modems, if you were lucky. 2400 baud if not. Crap. Now I sound like my Dad and uncles when they used to muse about the good ole days when men were men and cars were too darn hard for women to own. Ah, yes... whatever.

Anyway, take a look at Yahoo's page circa 1996 (I remember it earlier, but Wayback doesn't have earlier) Or for a real laugh, take a gander at my first Internet company. Ah, I could have been one of those wanna-be DotCom millionaires who are now serving coffee at Starbucks (sonny...).

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Proof positive...

Here is proof positive (lest we actually needed it) that some people definitely have too much time on there hands...God bless 'em for it too.