Tim’s Weblog Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, managing software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.

OSCON - Open Data

Tim Bray - OSCON - Open Data:

"At the end of the day, information outlives software and transcends software and is more valuable than software. I think any online service can call itself “Open” if it makes, and lives up to, this commitment: Any data that you give us, we’ll let you take away again, without withholding anything, or encoding it in a proprietary format, or claiming any intellectual-property rights whatsoever.

It seems to me that if you don’t have that, you have nothing, and if you do have it, you have, if not everything, at least a solid foundation to build on."

Sun, 30 Jul 2006 20:09:45 +0000

Rasmus Lerdorf on scaling web apps with PHP

Niall Kennedy - Rasmus Lerdorf on scaling web apps with PHP:

"Rasmus Lerdorf led OSCON attendees through a series of optimizations for modern web applications using PHP at O'Reilly's Open Source conference today. Most programmers use default installations and configurations for their web applications and never really dig deep within their stack or their own code to optimize page load and latency. The full slides from Rasmus's talk are available online and I recorded audio of the entire session from the front row."

Sun, 30 Jul 2006 20:03:15 +0000

A geo-located photo album in five easy pieces

Kevin Quiggle and Mike Whitton at Linux.com - A geo-located photo album in five easy pieces:

"Open standards, and openness in general, enables people to combine a variety of technologies in new and interesting ways. For example, using a camera with Exif support, a GPS receiver, the Google Maps API, and Perl, PHP and JavaScript, Mike Whitton created a Web-based photo album in which the photographs are automatically placed on a map at the exact location they were taken. Let's take a look at how this is done."

Thu, 27 Jul 2006 15:37:20 +0000


"What CouchDb is:

  • * A stand-alone document store, accessible via XML REST.
  • * Ad-hoc and schema-free with a flat address space.
  • * Distributed, featuring robust, incremental replication with bi-directional conflict detection and resolution.
  • * Query-able and index-able, featuring a table oriented reporting engine with a simplified formula query language.

The CouchDb data model was partially inspired by the Lotus Notes and Domino backend."

Update: Harry Fuecks at SitePoint - CouchDb: document oriented persistence.


Thu, 27 Jul 2006 15:36:00 +0000

A new breed of highly-available serverless applications

Jon Udell - A new breed of highly-available serverless applications:

"Bill Seitz alerted me to one of those footpaths the other day: Les Orchard's S3-backed wiki. Outstandingly cool! For those who have not followed the various plot threads closely, this is an evolution of the idea of the serverless wiki. [...] Les has substituted Amazon's S3 network storage for the local disk. It's a wonderful hack that anticipates a whole new breed of highly-available serverless applications."

Fri, 21 Jul 2006 14:16:34 +0000

XML Content Management the Dr. Macro Way: Simple Is Good

W. Eliot Kimber - XML Content Management the Dr. Macro Way: Simple Is Good:

"The key lessons I took away from this experience and that drive all my thinking about content management are:

1. Manage the XML source as versioned storage objects

2. Do all semantic processing, including link managing, metadata indexing, etc. as separate activities on top of or separate from the core storage

3. All of the complexity in XML content management is concentrated at the boundary between the repository and the outside world and that is where the system's complexity should likewise be concentrated.

[...] Can I implement all the functionality required using Subversion (nee CVS) and XSLT (possibly with a few extension functions to handle specialized business logic, such as connecting to another, pre-existing information system)?

That is, can I prove my understanding of the requirements and business processes through the implementation of a system using a brute force mechanism?

If the answer is yes, then the next question is, why don't you?"

Thu, 20 Jul 2006 21:43:32 +0000

When Amateurs Roamed the Earth

Tim O'Reilly cites a NY Times article - When Amateurs Roamed the Earth:

"Before box cameras became universal a century or so ago, people drew for pleasure but also because it was the best way to preserve a cherished sight, a memory, just as people played an instrument or sang if they wanted to hear music at home because there were no record players or radios. Amateurism was a virtue, and the time and effort entailed in learning to draw, as with playing the piano, enhanced its desirability.

[...] With the arts, American adults have acquiesced to playing the passive role of receivers....So it is with classical music, painting and drawing, professional renditions of which are now so widely available that most people probably can’t or don’t imagine there’s any point in bothering to do these things themselves."

Thu, 20 Jul 2006 08:12:59 +0000

Application UI goes back to basics

Jon Udell at InfoWorld - Application UI goes back to basics:

"As the new generation of so-called rich Internet clients arrives, let’s be careful what kind of richness we wish for. We don’t need Web recreations of the feature-bloated monsters that our office suites became. What we need instead, and what’s starting to appear, is a breed of lightweight single-purpose Web applications for basic tasks: writing, communicating, spreadsheeting, charting.

As the reaction to WriteRoom proves, there is enormous pent-up demand for applications that do one thing well."

Wed, 19 Jul 2006 19:43:56 +0000

Why I Hate Microformats

Robert Cooper - Why I Hate Microformats:

"Yay, you have an iCal microformat in your page. You can use Trails, now to stick it right into your Google calendar. Neat.

The problem is, this is a serious abuse of HTML. The way you SHOULD have done this is:

    <html:div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2002/12/cal/">
       <dtstart>20060501</dtstart><html:abbr>May 1</html:abbr>

Then present your iCal entry with CSS. Yes, we have waited years and years and years for Microsoft to get off their rears and implement CSS with namespaces, which everyone else has had for years. However, IE7 is around the proverbial corner, and we should finally get the option to embed actual real data into our HTML pages and style it. There is no reason to use semantically incorrect HTML and beat up on the class attribute."

Tue, 18 Jul 2006 10:40:38 +0000

No Database!?

Tim Bray - No Database!?:

"I like the semantics of the Unix filesystem, and I also really like the fact that whether you’re talking ufs, ext3, zfs, or whatever, this is some of the world’s most thoroughly-debugged and battle-hardened code. Also, most modern operating systems are really quite clever at noticing when part of the filesystem is getting hammered and caching the whole thing in memory, so you may never go near a disk.

I’m not religious—I’ve deployed runtime databases where I’ve had to. But there is a psychology out there in our profession,which says: if you have data that you want to store and retrieve, that means you need a database. But sometimes you don’t. And sometimes you come out ahead on one or both of the less-work and runs-fast metrics by not having one."

Tue, 18 Jul 2006 08:09:08 +0000

A Week in the Valley: GData

Nathan Torkington - A Week in the Valley: GData:

"There's a huge move within Google away from SOAP and even REST-style ad hoc APIs and towards GData instead. The big point for me was that GData is just Atom/RSS for reading, Atom Publishing for writing, and A9 stored queries for searching."

Mon, 17 Jul 2006 19:45:14 +0000

A Week in the Valley: Ning

Nathan Torkington - A Week in the Valley: Ning:

"It's just like Rails in the sense that it makes it easy to build a web app. Rails puts "hello world" one commandline away. Ning puts a full real big app one click away. Rails is a framework built around conventions. Ning is a set of libraries, and Ning apps are built using those libraries. There's actually less of a learning curve for programmers in Ning than there is in Rails.

[...] Their storage engine is interesting. Every object has ID, app, user, tag, and type as metadata, and holds arbitrary key-value pairs. That's all the storage engine does, so it's very web loose-coupled. If your appointment data points to my address data, I can delete my address data and your appointment's left pointing to nothing."

Mon, 17 Jul 2006 19:28:44 +0000

The Databox

Tim Bray - The Databox:

"Occasionally, one of the disks might fail. When this happens, you won’t lose any data, but a red light on the Databox will start flashing, and it will send mail to a few designated addresses. When this happens, it’s exactly like when your laser printer starts saying “You need to replace the cyan ink” or “You need to buy a new printer drum”; next time you go shopping, you swing by Best Buy or Costco and pick up another disk unit. When you get home, you open the top of the Databox, pull out the disk with the red LED turned on, drop in the new one, and toss out the old one."

Mon, 17 Jul 2006 13:08:21 +0000

Product management bug is spreading

David L. Margulius at InfoWorld - Product management bug is spreading:

"Enterprise IT is making a transition from build-to-order (“order taker”) and mass manufacturer (“any color you want as long as it’s black”) to being a service provider responsible for delivering flexible, configurable platforms and applications. The only way to do that is with a product management culture driven by people who are compulsive about customer-needs data, adamant about optimizing the cost/quality/speed tradeoffs in the product road map, paranoid about competitors, and of course, entrepreneurial."

Fri, 07 Jul 2006 11:19:35 +0000

SIMILE Project

"SIMILE is focused on developing robust, open source tools based on Semantic Web technologies that improve access, management and reuse among digital assets."

Wed, 05 Jul 2006 20:12:52 +0000

IM as a unified collaboration platform

Ephraim Schwartz at InfoWorld - IM as a unified collaboration platform:

"We all know that IM (instant messaging) is a tremendous time-saver, allowing you to make fewer phone calls, answer fewer voice mails, and send and receive fewer e-mails. So when I spoke with Dave Marshak, director of IBM Lotus collaboration technology, on the occasion of the upcoming release of Lotus Sametime 7.5, I wanted to know what’s next: How will IM’s collaborative capabilities be extended once the enterprise adopts it?"

Wed, 05 Jul 2006 13:35:23 +0000