24 Mar

Ajaxing the Rails

David Heinemeier Hansson:

"Rails 0.11.0 is out on the street and I’m especially proud of the Ajax support we’ve been able to include. Instead of trying to soften the blow of doing client-side Javascript libraries as many others are doing, we’ve gone ahead and more or less removed the need for hand-written client-side javascript entirely.
This is done by off-loading the creation of DOM elements to the server side, which returns complete constructs that are then injected live through innerHTML. While this method is slightly more verbose than just peddling data across the wire, it’s immensely easier to develop."

Is ASP.NET 2.0 going to provide similar server-side generation of client cross-platform Javascript, or are Microsoft web developers going to be stuck with ugly web controls finetuned to IE? Here’s how to currently use JavaScript along with ASP.NET (see also Enhancing ASP.NET Pages with JavaScript). No mention whatsoever of Javascript in this article on the ASP.NET 2.0 Web Parts Framework, not much in Creating Custom Web Controls with ASP.NET 2.0 either. Microsoft seems more focused on enterprise intranets (felt that way since Visual Interdev) than public, genuine web applications. Still, apparently ASP.NET 2.0 is going to suck less in that regard but still rely on browser-sniffing by default (at the templating level too). And yes, support from dev tools is important.
See also Sajax, Simple Ajax Toolkit (did that buzzword catch quickly – there’s even a dedicated blog!).
04/12/05 update: AJAX .NET Wrapper.
06/28/05 update: Microsoft to debut Atlas development framework at PDC, Atlas Project.

17 Mar

Mr. Moore in the Datacenter

Ryan McIntyre:

"Given five or six performance doublings since 1995 courtesy of improvements in clock speed, bus speed, architecture changes from 32 to 64 bit, additional cache memory and faster RAM, a conservative estimate would be that today’s single CPU 1-U “pizza box” web server is roughly fifty times faster than last decade’s model. Couple that with the 25x price difference for this pizza box, and your 2005 dollar buys you more than one-thousand times as much compute power as it did in 1995. Bandwidth is at least ten times cheaper than it was in 1995, floor space in the data center is seven times cheaper and enterprise-class storage is at least four hundred times cheaper than it was only a decade ago.
What does this mean for a web-services company? The cost to deliver an application to an end-user has dropped dramatically for these companies and the cost to operate their data centers therefore has much less of an impact on their costs of operations and capex budget than it used to, which means their gross margins for delivering their product have improved significantly since 1995. For companies like Yahoo, Google and more recently, Technorati, this means the cost to deliver a page view or search results page has gone down dramatically, while the average size of a search-results page is perhaps only marginally larger since 1995."

See also: Software’s Top 10 2005 Trends: #3 Software As A Service – some internet business models can be revisited because some of the underlying assumptions that led them to fail are no longer true.

15 Mar

The War is Over (WS-* vs. POX/HTTP)

Joshua Allen:

"On one side, we have the people who believe that WS-* specifications such as SOAP and WS-Security will eventually dominate. And on the other, we have people who believe that HTTP with plain old XML (POX) will outlast the new contender.
I am announcing that the war is now over, whether the participants realize it yet or not. Niether side won; but they have established clear territory for themselves and will soon be giving up on taking over one another’s territory. The WS-* stack is about deep enterprise integration. […] HTTP + POX is about "reach integration". […]
You can integrate with PayPal or BitPass by cutting and pasting some JavaScript — installing and running Visual Studio is much harder. Look at del.icio.us and flickr bookmarklets, and ask yourself if it would be easier for mom-n-pop to use Visual Studio instead. […]
If I write a big chunk of code and you tell me that only other enterprise architects can integrate with it, I might ask why. I might ask, "why is it so easy to integrate with Flickr; what development suite did they use?""

After POJOs in reaction to the overly complex EJB, here comes POX to talk about XML without SOAP. There’s some irony to see the emergence of "Plain Old" subsets within technologies that were supposed to be simple in the first place, and which are a decade (or less) old anyway.
03/18/05 update: Adwords API blog: Lessons learned launching a web service on REST vs. SOAP (Dare Obasanjo’s notes, see also ETech 2005 Trip Report: “Just” Use HTTP).

10 Mar

My Google News

Josh Petersen has the latest on new customization features at Google News. They seem to focus on the low hanging fruit. I for one am more interested in news cross-analysis, fact checking and discovery than basic filtering. Moreover, I don’t want to manage my Google preferences in 5 different environments (news, search, groups, etc.); MyYahoo has clearly an edge in integrating the whole portal breadth in one place.

04 Mar

Introducing Defense Industry Daily

My friend Tig and I are proud to introduce Defense Industry Daily, a niche blog/online trade rag dedicated to defense contractors and procurement managers. Like MarketingVox, the publication is medium-agnostic and accessible on the web, by RSS and by email (the later will be introduced shortly). DID is edited by Joe Katzman of Winds of Change fame who’s up to a great start. Did you know about EPA-approved nukes?
Expect more such niche B2B blogs from us at our deliberately slow and quiet pace. Most people are excited about getting $2-10 CPMs and that’s great. Advertisers in the defense industry are welcome to get in touch with us to inquire about our rates and formats – we believe we’ll quickly attract the right audience for them. Feedback on our content (focus and tone) is of course welcome as well.

01 Mar

Yahoo Finally Starts Search Web Services

Yes Yahoo is a latecomer here but you have to appreciate the effort to expose not only web search, but also local, news, images and video. For now as per the FAQ they offer a REST interface and will implement SOAP only if there’s significant demand for it. Access is free but capped (by IP address, now that’s a bit strange [*]). There are a couple applications so far. Here are the obligatory weblog, mailing lists and wiki, some support from O’Reilly, and of course Jeremy Zawodny is part of it.
As usual, it’s non-commercial by default unless you ask and obtain permission. The SDK provides Perl, PHP, Python, Java and JavaScript code samples – not a surprise coming from Yahoo.
[*] Update: Phil clarifies the IP quota for me. Good point, I had read too quickly without realizing this lets your application be accessed by more users without hassling them to sign up for a developer key (which of course doesn’t make any sense). Yep, Yahoo has the upper hand now.