HotSheet: State of the Union

Here is the email I posted to the HotSheet mailing list the other day. I’m pretty sure the readership of the list is pretty darn low but surprisingly enough, this site gets way more traffic than you would expect so I’m repeating it here.
I’m working on HotSheet again. I’ve done a few small updates to the source over the last month but no big changes that warranted a release. Now I’m trying to get the dialog done that will allow adjusting the various properties that could previously only be set through the properties file. I did a lot of work last night on improvements to the RSS library and I’m hoping to bang on the program for at least an hour a day every day until I see some big improvements.
So now that I use HotSheet on a daily basis and I’m no longer sick of looking at it I’ve started to ask myself what the future holds for it. The conclusion that I’ve come to is that RSS is not enough. News headlines are nice but wouldn’t it be better if there were a set of data classes that handle RSS (obviously), but also weather, daily comics, sports scores, other forms of news, email notifications, calendar event notifications, stock info, tv shows, and tracking of items that change status like auctions or shipped packages. In other words, all the things people go to portals for all the time. People could build anything from a portal to an information appliance to a web service. By having one library there could be more consistency in interface, documentation, testing, etc. and the results would probably gain a lot more attention than a scattered set of separate libraries to do the same things.
I’ve got ideas where to graft on existing libraries to get some of this data:
Weather
http://www.amug.org/~glguerin/sw/#weather
http://javaweather.sourceforge.net/
Sports scores
http://sportwire.sourceforge.net/
Stocks
http://www.neuro-tech.net/app.xml?name=jfl
Email notifications
http://java.sun.com/products/javamail/index.html
but for others there isn’t an existing Java solution. We might port an existing application in another language or wrap the data that it pulls. Some likely candidates for that treatment include:
Comics
http://sourceforge.net/projects/pycomic/
TV
http://noomore.org/GuideParser/
http://freeguide-tv.sourceforge.net/ (this is an existing java project that uses data pulled via Perl)
http://membled.com/work/apps/xmltv/
Still others, like auction and package tracking… I’ve got no knowledge of existing libraries to use, and for some of the existing ones mentioned above there may be license issues to be considered. It’s very important to me that any library included be either BSD, LGPL, or some equivalent that won’t impose unpleasant restrictions on any application in which it is used. Especially since it may represent a very small part of functionality in the application.
Clearly this kind of expansion will require me to separate HotSheet into two projects rather than just one. There will be a data libraries project and a separate project or projects for interfaces to that data.
In the meantime, expect a new release of HotSheet within the next couple of weeks.

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One thought on “HotSheet: State of the Union

  1. Anthony Holland

    Hi John
    I like the idea of your application. I like rich clients generally, and am interested in personal news applications. It doesn’t seem to do that much just yet, but eventually it could be pretty significant. I will explore it a bit more before saying anything further.
    Nice effort,
    Anthony

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