Sunday, March 20, 2005

JBother - A Groovy Jabber Client

I have found a new Jabber client called JBother, for me it's just right. It's written in Java and the code is reasonably understandable so maybe I will be able to knock up some patches, at the moment it seems to be in a useable state so I can also use it as my normal Jabber client. This means I will probably stop using Adium (MacOS) and Gaim (Linux). Adium is a nice client (very pretty) but Gaim just keeps annoying me (do I really need to see the login stuff?).

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Calendaring on the Web

CalDAV which seems to store iCal events in seperate files on a WebDAV server looks to be the likely cadidate for calendaring on the web. It is reasonably simple but provides most of the functionality people are after. The question for me at the moment is "Is anyone writing a Java implementation?"

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Guanxi Talk & HSQLDB

Today I poped into a talk my Sean (from UHI) on Guanxi, he processed to give a quick introduction to Shibbiloth and how they are using Shib in Bodington which was very good. He also did a very good job of selling Bodington, hopefully some people will give it a go and we can grow as a community. In other news I've hacked up a patch for HSQLDB give it support for bitwise operators (AND (&) and OR (|)), this is useful for Bodington as it will then mean that we can use HSQLDB for an easy Bodington installation and JUnit tests. Hopefully it will end up in the main HSQLDB codebase.

ELF Developers Meeting

Yesterday I went to the ELF (ELearning Framework) developers meeting that was being help here in Oxford. It was an interesting morning with discussion about how the various projects are comming along. Not knowing much about ELF before I found it quite interesting. From a developer point of view I do have some concerns. At the moment they seem to be discussing how the framework should be described and leaving the contents of it till later. At the moment there is little in the way of suggested standards which doesn't sit very well with me, when I am looking at a project that is trying to build a plugable framework for elearning I would hope that the interfaces would be of primary concern. Instead the ELF leaders seem to have the aproach of letting people do projects and then trying to pull standards, interfaces and tools out of them. To me this is a bit like saying to a writer please write something for us in this language that hasn't yet been defined, but it will probably have verbs and nouns, but we'll decide what they are after you've used them. And your actually writing chapter 3 of this book and someone else is going to be writing chapter 2 and 4. I reaslise that creating standards is a very difficult process but I like being about to look at something and say "it doesn't do X, can we add it". At the moment you say "will X do Y?" and you get "probably". I'm probably being a bit critical here (bad habit), ELF is trying to pull together people who are thinking about developing products for elearning and getting them talking about standards and how things might work together.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Bodington and Safari load times.

At the moment most users of Bodington are advised to use either Internet Explorer or a Gecko based browser (Firefox, Mozilla) for best results. Although this is ok for most people it doesn't reflect well on the software that we can't be bothered to support people with smaller market shares. It's not that Bodington doesn't work full stop with other browsers, it just doesn't work very well. As I mentioned in my last post popups didn't work on Safari, but as well Safari has very long page load times with using Bodington. Being a Mac user at home I thought I'd spend a little time looking at this. Now the page load time only seemed to get bad once you were logged in (in the 3 frame layout). When I say bad I mean about 13 seconds from making the request to getting the fully rendered frameset back, in comparison Firefox on the same machine takes about 3 seconds (still not good). During this wait the processor always seemed to be working hard so I didn't think it was a networking problem. Now I do my development on a 1Ghz iBook so I'm not running on antique hardware but I was running Bodington on the same machine and Java on Macs isn't fast (Java on i386 is) so I used Firefox to save the entire frameset to the local machine to eliminate the time taken to generate the page. It seem that Firefox doesn't correctly adjust the CSS links when downloading so when I tried to view the page on the local machine I didn't have any CSS rendering. Although to my supprise the rendering was almost immediate in both Firefox and Safari. Correcting the relative CSS links to all three framesets gave me back the long page load times so it seem that the CSS parsing/rendering engine in Safari isn't anywhere near as good in terms of performance as Firefoxs'. In some ways I can understand, currently the same CSS that is used in all three framesets is over 4000 lines: bash$ wc bs_virtual_author.css 4759 9256 160091 bs_virtual_author.css At least I know where the problem is now.

Bodington and Browsers (MacOSX)

Bodington seems to have some cross browser issues:
Works (slowly), but some popups get automatically closed (should be fixed now).
Might work but IE seems to have a bug in that it can't connect to http://localhost:8080/ the alternative address works but because Bodington insists on rewriting all the URLs to the "correct" hostname all the links end up at localhost...
Login page comes up but clicking on the Login button goes nowhere
Most stuff seems to work, although it's CSS implementation is very poor.
Works a treat.
So although Bodington likes it's accessability standards it doesn't like browser ones (I'll admit that the IE problem is IE's fault). It's at times like this that I love databases.