I have recently started a new project at work on which I’m both the only architect & developer. This project is an extension of an existing one but rewritten from the ground up. I’m taking this opportunity to look back at my past work and select things that have worked for me, as well as drop those that didn’t. I also have the chance to check out the latest technologies on offer to the Java web programmer of today. Continue reading

XML 2007 Conference report

I’ve just attended the XML 2007 conference in Boston [held in the winter to filter out all but the most determined attendees]. It is actually a much older conference then I’d imagined having been in existence in various guises since the late 80’s and today was attended by a modest 300 people. I think this decline in numbers is indicative of the established position that XML as a technology as become. The use of XML as a document representation language and also as a data format was mirrored in the central strands of the sessions. Topics in the XML and the Web strand (the one I paid most attention to) concentrated around current trends such as Microformats, Mashups, REST, Office Open XML, JSON and AJAX. Although many of these subjects are relatively new, the maturity of the underlying XML infrastructure upon which they rely facilitate speedier adoption and development.

My main attention was on XFORMS – the technology I have been using in the EELS project. We had an entire evening of XFORMS talks (much coffee and festive eggnog was consumed in preparation) and amongst the vast majority of ‘introduction to xforms’-type presentations were some tips on how XFORMS is ideally suited to work with RESTful services, harnessing the power of XML databases for form storage and the position that XFORMS sits within the emerging standards based web development world. Rather then going into further details, I advise interested parties to read the session moderator, John Boyer’s, blog entry.

Overall the quality of the presentations at XML’07 was very good, and most confirmed existing assumptions about current directions that the aforementioned above technologies were taking. I was particularly impressed to see representatives from US government departments attending the conference. We were shown a flavor of the direction Microsoft is heading in for supporting the development of the next generation of web applications (Silverlight & LINQ), and Sidewinder; a container framework for bringing standards-based web apps (inc. XFORMS) to a user’s desktop outside of the traditional web browser.

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EC-TEL’07 Conference report

(Sissi, Crete, Sept 17th 2007)

The 2007 European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning is only celebrating it’s second birthday yet it already had 116 submissions and an acceptance rate lower then 25%. The conference, which is primarily a gathering of PhD students and researchers from around Europe, brings together adaptive hypermedia, data mining, semantic web and social software researchers interested in ‘enhancing’ traditional learning methods. Themes included Web 2.0 & social software, informal learning and workplace & industrial learning. The location, a sun-baked Creteian holiday resort, was quoted by several attendees as being too good (looking out at the clear turquoise sea made it hard to concentrate on the presentations).
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Writing Effective Javascript Code (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Unit Test)

Like most programmers I feel there are always ways of improve my coding skills. Whether it’s the perennial ‘write more documentation’, gain a better understanding of my current programming language or even just adopt a good programming style. Recently our company had a staff development week and I took this opportunity to pursue some of these interests. My main focus was on Unit Testing and after a week spent delving into this world I emerged with a new found enthusiasm for testing techniques, better confidence in my own skills (thanks to the tests I wrote) and a desire to spread the word.

The following entry is from a presentation I gave to my fellow ILRT programmers which covers some of the javascript tips and tricks I discovered on the web to help me (and others) become a better programmer. I conclude with some information on testing javascript applications using JSUnit and Selenium Core.

(I appologise for the layout but after several hours spent fighting with WordPress I’ve given up nicely trying to format everything)
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