Validation Tools

Monday, February 26th, 2007

What tools are people using to validate their web pages? In Refactoring HTML so far I’m writing about four, somewhat related tools:

Anything else worthy of mention? In particular, is there anything significantly different enough from these four that it deserves to be called out separately? Or is there anything better that should replace one of these options? (This is a relatively small book, and I am trying very hard not to cover absolutely every possibility and option.) Open source tools are strongly preferred.

#367: Red-Necked Grebe

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

Prospect Lake attracts a lot of interesting waterfowl in the winter, including two recent Northern Pintails, so I thought I’d take a quick spin around the lake today after lunch and see what I could see. I thought maybe I’d get a Scaup, Redhead, Canvasback, or even a Eurasian Wigeon; but I was not expecting a life bird. However, there it was. A Red-necked Grebe. I’ve managed to miss this bird on multiple trips where either it was expected or other people saw it but not me, so it was especially nice to pick it up in my backyard. It’s my first Prospect Park lifer for the year.

PDF Killed the Programming Language

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

It’s a slow Sunday morning so I was going to browse around a new language I’d been hearing rumors of, and maybe send them a little link love if I liked what I saw. However it seems all their tutorials, manuals, white papers, and almost everything else are in PDF. Yuck. Not worth my time.

They’re complaining that they can’t get any thought leaders to pay attention to them. If they insist on publishing on the Web in a format designed for paper books, it’s no wonder no one has noticed them. Write back when you start noticing this little thing called HTML, guys. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be big one of these days.

XQuery on Rails

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Rails (and similar frameworks like Seam, Grails, etc.) work by inspecting database schemas and dynamically generating code at runtime. They implicitly assume a SQL database, which isn’t really a good fit for most publishing applications. Sure you can slice and dice documents enough to force them into tables, but it’s a lot like pounding screws into set concrete with hammers.

Many publishing applications, especially generic systems like Wikis, content management systems, and blog engines, would be better served by a native XML database and XQuery; e.g. eXist instead of MySQL. What would a Rails-like system look like in this environment? What would the conventions (instead of configurations) be?

Peter Coffee’s 25 Killer Apps of All Time

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

Peter Coffee’s list seems about right, though Mac OS X is an OS and a GUI shell, not an app. Throw that away and there’s room for one more.

The only mistake here is the inclusion of Internet Explorer 1.0. That was a horrid product no one used. That should be replaced by Mosaic 1.0, which was far more significant to the development of the Web, and likely had many more users to boot. In fact, few versions of IE had any real significance. Mostly they just copied other browsers and got bundled with Windows. Just maybe you could count IE 5 as a killer app, since that’s the one that introduced XMLHttpRequest, which would become the basis for AJAX and Web 2.0. That’s probably the only significant innovation Microsoft’s ever made in the browser space. But IE 1.0 simply does not belong in this list.

Lost Day

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I spent yesterday rebuilding and repairing my main desktop Mac. Fingers crossed. It may be fixed now. It seems to have had some pretty serious volume structure problems on the main disk. The Finder kept hanging, and every time I did something that touched every file on the disk (like backing up) the process would hang. I had to boot off another disk to fix it, which meant I had to find my Tiger DVD and remember some old passwords. And then there was lot of time waiting around while files copied, Tiger installed, and TechTool tried to repair things. In any case it was quite boring and not very productive. I did catch up on my comic books though.