Monthly Archives: April 2001

Why Python?/Potential Fix for Netscape DTD

Eric Raymond has a new editorial titled, "Why Python?" I have been interested in Python for a while now because so many programs need a scripting language built in to give them that next level of functionality. Python seems popular, easier to learn and use than Perl (which I’ve always thought was just one step above APL in terms of being cryptic), and it looks to be easy to interface to Java including one implementation of Python that is written completely in Java. Thus it seems like a tool I need to add to my chest.
The other thing to write about today is that I’ve got a pretty good idea how to fix my HotSheet code but now I have to actually do it. As best I can tell the answer is to replace the entity resolver that the JAXP parser uses. When it requests the traditional Netscape URL for the DTD, I will instead create a new input source using a copy of the DTD I’ll include with every copy of HotSheet. That input source will then be supplied. If it works then I would be able to immediately begin parsing all the RSS files again whether they’ve updated to point to a new DTD or not.

Netscape Screws Up Their Portal

Sometimes a company’s “me, me, me” view is so tunnel visioned as to be amazing. Today Netscape introduced a new version of their my.netscape.com portal (you’ll note I didn’t even bother making it a link so you could go there, it’s not worth the effort). One of their big improvements was to remove a feature that made it the best of the existing portals before. It could display RSS channels from all over the web. In fact, Netscape and my.netscape.com was one of the reasons that RSS was popular everywhere. If you provided an RSS channel for your website you could go list it with Netscape and their portal users could add all your news headlines to their portal page on an equal footing with news from sources like Reuters and Salon if your info was just as important to them.
Unfortunately in the process of removing this useful feature for the “new and improved” version of my.netscape.com they also removed the DTD file (the file describing the layout of an RSS file) that had been referred to by literally thousands of RSS files across the network. It was a file reference that Netscape told you to use in your RSS file as part of the spec they distributed. And when they deleted that DTD file they broke RSS files across the network. My own GameDev.net RSS channel no longer will parse in HotSheet because the DTD it referred to doesn’t exist anymore. After all, if Netscape isn’t going to be supporting RSS anymore then nobody else will be either, right? Uh, no, that would be wrong.
A demonstration of how self absorbed Netscape can be that is every bit as sad as some I’ve seen from Microsoft.

DonThorp.net Debuts/First Release of JXTA

Not a lot to report today. Wanted to get a plug in for my best friend Don Thorp’s site, he’s just getting a new XML/XSL version up and going which means I’ll probably tap him as a guinea pig at some point when I’ve got a web logging tool ready :)
Also, the first release of code for the JXTA project. Juxtapose is an incubation project from Bill Joy and Sun to produce an infrastructure of common elements needed by peer-to-peer software. I’ve downloaded it but a quick attempt at running didn’t tell me much. I think I may have to try actually reading the documentation.

Improved Rendering and Thoughts About Open Sourcing HotSheet

Greatly improved the rendering of items in HotSheet. Long descriptions are now wrapped and displayed on multiple lines and titles appear in bold so they stand out from the descriptions. If I get RSS 1.0 support in there (already started) and a filtering system so that refreshing the channels you have in your list doesn’t make new items if there are already items that are identical still in the list then I’m going to call it functional for a little while and work on another project before coming back to it. I’m thinking about making all the source available through Sourceforge along with information about the improvements I have in mind. Perhaps someone else will want to do some of them or will have some other cool stuff in mind and enough time to improve it.

Netbeans 3.2 RC3

Netbeans 3.2 RC3 is out and it really has some nice improvements over v3.1. The form editor is much much more WYSIWYG and you can run it in MDI mode so you don’t have half a dozen windows floating around on your screen anymore. If you haven’t picked a Java IDE yet or you are using JBuilder then you owe it to yourself to at least give Netbeans a look. I believe that Netbeans is much better than JBuilder and if you are using JBuilder because you need to have a commercial IDE with support you can get Sun’s Forte which is an enhanced commecial version of Netbeans with support.

OpenJNLP/JBoss

There’s a new project I ran into today that I’m not sure I understand. It’s called OpenJNLP and if you are familiar with Java WebStart you know that JNLP is the file format that tells WebStart what to download and how to run what it downloads. This is an open source version of Java WebStart and at present I can’t see a lot of use for it because WebStart works quite well.
A project that is very very clear in its usefullness is jBoss. jBoss is an open source J2EE application server that provides all of the things you expect (i.e. EJB container, JSP support via Tomcat, JMS, etc.) Since I need to immerse myself in J2EE to extend what I’ve already learned about J2SE this looks like what I’ll use to do most of my development.

Still Job Hunting

No new entries here since Monday because I’ve been concentrating on job finding. I did find time today to fix a few bugs in HotSheet so it will continue marching toward a state where I can be really proud of it and where it serves my daily news gathering needs. If you’ve already installed it, then you’ll get a notice telling you there is a new version when you run it and you will be automatically updated the next time you run. Java WebStart is a wonderful thing :)

HotSheet Debuts

Wow. Busy weekend, busy Monday.
I had family over for Easter weekend but I still managed to get HotSheet to a somewhat crude alpha state. If you look up at the top of the page you’ll see that there is now a projects page listed. If you go there you will see a link to the HotSheet project page. I’d love to get feedback from anyone who tries to install and use HotSheet. If everything goes the way it is supposed to then Java WebStart will make it as simple as clicking on a link for you to be able to use HS.
If you are sharp-eyed you might also notice that most all of the formerly static HTML pages have gone to JSP. I intended to do that anyway for many of the pages eventually but my hand was forced by how difficult it is to change things within Blogger. If I just wanted to add a new menu item to the top of all the pages I had to change two different templates within Blogger and then tell it to republish my main page and all of the archive pages. The other day when I tried to do that, it just timed out again and again without ever publishing anything. So now all of the JSP replacement pages import the page header so I can change it easily.

Added a Resources Section

Added a Resources link to the site menu. This is far from the only addition I hope you’ll see in the near future. I want the size of the Resources page to at least double or triple. One addition that will help expand the page will be a list of all the books that I just couldn’t live without when I’m developing software.
Next up will be the Projects link. I’ll use it to provide information on specific projects I’m working on like HotSheet. Since HotSheet is basically useful at this point the Projects page will go live when I add just a couple of last details onto HS and I put up the first alpha version.
Lastly, I would like to add a “worth reading” list of links to the front page. Often I sprinkle links inside the musings on the front page but I’d like to have a separate list of links that I don’t think need a lot of explanation. They are just articles that deserve reading.
Unfortunately, after typing in all of the text above late last night, Blogger told me that the database servers log was full when I attempted to post the new entry. When I went back a page to where I had been writing the page no longer had any text on it. I’m glad I hadn’t written something really long that I had to try and recreate. Grrrr…
It’s that kind of thing that shows me just how much end users need a tool that is as easy to use as Blogger, extremely easy to install (because that’s the one area that Blogger obviously benefits from being an application service provider; no installation), and is under their control. Maybe my Freenet projects will wait a little bit after the alpha HotSheet is out so that I can work on the weblogging tool instead.