Category Archives: AJAX

Nothing to Download

I’ve actually been sitting on this post for about 6 months – which is about how often I manage to post here, so you can kind of see how the process goes.

It wasn’t a revelation in the sense that it led to some insight or allowed me access to new knowledge, but I’m not sure how else to describe it…

something like this…

My wife: You can email me, or I’ll be on Gchat when I’m in my email.

Her friend: Yeah, it’s nice that you don’t have to download anything.

That’s it. Simple as that. Nothing to download.

Now, my wife and her friend (and her friends in general) are technologically savvy, but aren’t the techie type nor usually early adopters. I guess this is part of the genius of Google. It was a lot more obvious when they rewrote pretty much every rule that existed with the release of Gmail. And while the addition of GChat [ed: and now chat in Yahoo Mail] is certainly less revolutionary, it’s another indication of where this all is headed.

Of course, as far as I can tell right now, the advantage of GChat over chat in Yahoo Mail is that GChat saves all your chats for you. It even does that when you chat using the downloaded version of the client. Yahoo Messenger saves your chat history on your hard drive. Now that you can chat in Yahoo Mail, it would certainly make sense to update that. [ed: they might have done that already, but I haven't opened up the thick client for YMessenger in a while - it's all about Trilian as the thinnest thick client there is]

The addition of Yahoo Web Messenger adds another level of importance to the need for syncing that history. YWM will save your history to the web, so I’m not sure if YMail also does that now as well. I could probably test it, but I’m lazy.

Since I’m writing this post now and not 6 months ago, I do feel that it warrants a mention that YWM is done in Flash/Flex. Not Silverlight. Yes, Silverlight just hit beta this week. But with what those Metaliq guys have done with it already, it would seem that Yahoo could have done Web Messenger that way if they wanted.

And since I’m inviting fanatics from both sides just by putting the words in the post, I might as well link to one of my favorite posts ever from Eric Dolecki.

Update on Flex stuff

Okay, so it’s been almost a month since the last post and I really haven’t gotten that far… It’s difficult when 8 hours of your day is taken up with work that is not Flex, and another 7-8 is taken up with sleeping. And my social calendar has been fairly packed this month as well, so, all in all, just not much time…

But here’s the most recent Flex articles I’ve read:

Someone forgot to tell Gmail

… that Google Spreadsheets is now called Google Docs & Spreadsheets:

gmail_bar.jpg

google_docs_spreadsheets_bar.jpg

And Picasa is online now as well under Photos.

Of course, this will all be old news as soon as I hit the publish button. Actually considering it’s 9:34 am and I haven’t opened my RSS Reader (aka Google Reader), it probably already is old news. Mmmmmmm! Stale!

The RSS Reader Wars are Back

At least for a second… Google launched a new version of Reader today, fueling speculation that it can’t be long before they integrate RSS into Gmail. In the post about the update, you’ll find a video by one of the Google Reader engineers. The best part of the video is not that Google Reader is an inbox for the web, but rather the UPS guy who leaves the building in back of Chris Wetherell. Can’t you see him going “Dammit! The one take we finally get and there’s a UPS guy back there.” Maybe other people aren’t as easily distracted as I am.

Just to play around a little, I did some tests on Google’s feed discovery service (I’ve done similar searches with Yahoo’s RSS feed search). I choose to be amused rather than disheartened by the results. A search for Fantasy Basketball turns up none of the fantasy basketball blogs I read (nor write). Just stuff from the “major” news sources and media. A search for Give Me The Rock (no quotes) comes up with the BlogShares feed for GMTR and a posting on the KFBA message board with a link to the site. A search for “Give Me The Rock” (with quotes this time) actually manages to grab a bunch of sites that link to GMTR, but not GMTR itself. Finally, a search for Nels Wadycki comes up with the Give Me The Rock feed as the 6th hit. At least this blog was the first result for Nels Wadycki. I would have been a little worried if that wasn’t the case.

I added GMTR, this blog, and another fantasy basketblog that I read to test things out…

And the verdict is, it’s pretty nice. If you go through thing in the expanded view, it will automatically mark them as read, which is something that I’m a big fan of. The keyboard shortcuts make that pretty easy, too. I will say that the shortcuts took me a little while to figure out, but I think if I were to use Reader consistenly, I’d get used to them pretty quick. Hard to say if it works well for a power reader like myself with only 3 feeds in there, but it is an obvious improvement over the previous version.

As for the integration into Gmail. I’m not keen on that as yet. It would probably require some reworking of the keyboard shortcuts, and it seems like there would have to some sort of separation between the two since they are actually more disparate applications than Gmail and Gtalk were/are. I would like to see them do it if for no other reason than to expand the side bar a little. I’ve always thought it was too narrow to accomodate longer, more wordy labels, and it would help a little with people’s personalized statuses in the Gtalk box.

Here’s the only picture I’m going to post… because if you really want to see what it looks like, you can just go over and check it out.

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Google Calendar

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
And their like
It’s better than yours,
Damn right it’s better than yours

Milkshake, Kelis

Well, since I was so excited (and subsequently disappointed) by the release of the Yahoo Mail Beta… I feel obliged to post about Google’s launch of Google Calendar.

While I have continued to be re-astounded by Gmail (after being disappointed by the new Yahoo Mail), Google Calendar hasn’t hit me the same. Yes, it’s fast, and I like the invitation system built it, but it hasn’t made me want to switch over from AirSet yet. AirSet is just too robust and well designed. Google Calendar doesn’t feel as solid yet. The fact that I can’t get notifications from any calendar except my primary one is also a deal breaker. The ability to set reminders on other calendars is something that will probably come when they address getting more notifications, but it was something that confused me a lot at first (until I realized I wasn’t getting reminders for those events anyway).

On the plus side, I was able to import my calendars from AirSet quickly to allow me to evaluate Google Calendar very easily. The Agenda view is, for some reason, nicer than the same sort of view provided by AirSet, but the starting day seems to jump around a bit at random. I also like the ability to set the custom view to a smaller number of days than the next week. The biggest plus is that it shows the coming events starting with the current day. For some reason, AirSet doesn’t do this (although I have suggested it to them), and it’s pretty annoying to be checking the calendar on Saturday and have the past week of events in the view instead of those coming up.

I imagine that in another few months – maybe when the contact management and to-do list have been built up and added, respectively – I will be ready to switch over to Google Calendar. Until then, I’m sticking with AirSet (and not maintaining 2 calendars… tried that for a couple days and it was not fun).

The XMLHttpRequest Object

That’s what I like to see.

Thanks to AJAX Magazine.

The moment of Yahoo Mail Beta has arrived!

I was accepted into the Yahoo Mail Beta last night! I almost yelled out Yahoo! Except that it was late. And I was tired. I left the window open all night (even though it was cold outside), just so I could make sure it wasn't some sort of cruel dream. Sometimes known as a nightmare.

Behold! In the morning it was still there. And I love it. I think it increases the amount of memory that Firefox uses, but it is worth every byte.

I remember reading – oh so long ago – about how it seemed to take a really long time to load. Well, my friends, and people I've never met, it doesn't. I don't know if they cranked it up since the first people were accepted in, but I did some tests and it seemed to only take a little longer than Gmail does to load up all that Javascripty goodness. Sometimes it ran even faster than Gmail. I'm not going to post any numbers since it wasn't like I was doing scientific testing.

But, it is pretty. And it goes fast. And it comes with a keyboard shortcut for "Delete" (Google, are you paying attention?) I'm not sure about the RSS in my mailbox thing – at least not with the way they have it right now (sans folders/tags, differentiation of new vs. read, and a lack of "keep this one"-ability. And that's fine, since I have 2 good feedreaders as it is.

As an added bonus, it doesn't trap my keyboard the way the Yahoo Maps beta does.

Speaking of bonuses! It looks like WordPress has upgraded to the newest version of, well, WordPress. No more gruesome pop-up windows to handle links and HTML editing – it's all in the div's now!

Tag, you're it! , , ,

How To Decide on Professional Development

signgoodluck.jpg

Okay… So the title of the post is a bit misleading. I’m not going to tell you how to decide on steps for professional development. I don’t even know myself. That’s what this post is about. I just felt it was better to leave the Question Mark off the title… SEO reasons, ya heard?

So, here’s the question… How do you (aka me) decide on what to do when it comes to professional development. Here’s the example, specific to me (of course): I am currently working on a project that uses web technologies like Struts, Tiles, JSPs (implicitly), Java (also a bit of a duh), EJBs and J2EE in general. There is no real practical application of something like AJAX in this project, and the architecture is well established enough that we’re not gonna go throwing some JavaServer Faces in there… BUT: AJAX and JSF are technologies that I really want to learn. I am familiar with Java and JavaScript already, so those two seem like fairly natural extensions of my current skillz. And I have books about both sitting on my Shelf for when I finish my Java Server Pages reference by Hans Bergstrom. Okay, so really that seems simple enough, right?

Sure, but then I see another Richie Rich Internet Application made with the new Flash 8.5/Flex 2.0 engine, and that run time seems like it could be the future of web applications as easily as the others, and perhaps more so. The Flash player has something like a 94% penetration among internet users. People (not many, but some) turn off JavaScript for security reasons. So does it make more sense to make a jack move to learning ActionScript 3.0, even though I’ve never done any Flash programming before? Or, do I stick with the currently chartered course of AJAX followed by JavaServer Faces (or perhaps the other way around)?

Also obfuscating the issue is the fact that my “shop”, as it were, is mostly invested in Java and Java-related technologies, but there are a few Flash programmers who rock their “specialist” label like it was an oversized clock. Can I step up to be a Flash playa in control of the Flash player? Or is it enough to have a few people doing the Flash stuff, and concentrate on skills that are probably more widely applicable in the realm of web development?

Nels Wadycki: Thinking out loud on the daily.

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Gmail = HTML++, Mvelopes = Client / SOA

SitePoint’s PHP Blog (of all places):

AJAX is used to enhance existing HTML forms / user interaction but the fundamental paradigm is still the same as “normal” web applications. Some key smells of this style;

  1. Page reloads still happen frequently
  2. It’s possible (if you make the effort) to degrade gracefully to non-supporting browsers / browsers with JS turned off.
  3. Session state still resides on the server.

Some of the key smells with Client / SOA;

  1. Page reloads are rare, if at all. The application tends to run in a single browser window.
  2. It’s practically impossible to degrade gracefully, without maintaining seperate code bases.
  3. Session state is largely handled by the client.
  4. Javascript and the browser are acting as a runtime in the same sense as the Java or .NET runtime.
  5. It’s going to require specialist developers

Most people reading this have probably had some experience with Gmail, so you know that it fits in the first category above (now known as HTML++).

I took a free trial month with Mvelopes, and while I couldn’t justify the $8/month for their program (not when I’ve got Yodlee), it was good just to see what kind of things are possible in the world of “Client/SOA” web applications. We’re going to have to come up with a better name for that, right? Yeah. I would recommend that web developers (not so much the designers as the developers) take a look at it. The free trial is surprisingly easy to cancel when you’ve checked it out.

I think probably the most interesting thing above is the statement that Javascript and the browser acts as the run time environment. Are we going to see a JavaScript Enterprise Edition in a few years? Or is it more likely that people will find a better way to combine the Java or .NET run times with AJAX and/or DHTML and/or HTML++? AjaxFaces, anyone?

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