iNews web interface

Pete Lane and I had a look at the iNews web interface this week. It’s fairly basic. I think it’s a minimal system to try and give the basic rundown outputs in much the same way as they appear n the iNews system ona PC; very basic, simple and identical to use for a journalist. If we look on the iPad however, the default font is small, the screen is also small, so the user ends up having to scroll around the screen and zoom in to see the text at any sort of useful size.

This image is the same output but styled significantly better. We are now using images to act as buttons to take us up and down the folder hierarchy and we have replaced the fonts to give some sensible sizes for presenters to be able to read while in vision. There are a few areas which mean that we need to do more work on it. The web interface is also used by all our Blackberry and mobile users, so we need to do some browser checking to adjust the styling for each type of user. We also need to test the movement around the folders; it doesn’t give us quite the right links in the interface. The setup in iNews is to allow a web page and a style sheet to be assigned to a particular stream. This web template may have various codes put in there that will then be filled in with links for parent topic etc. THe template is then styled and sent to the iPad. It works quite well, as you can see.

We are busy on the touchscreen work at the moment, but will come back to this. It may be that the SOAP interfaces coming in v3.0 iNews will give us an easier way. As we will be testing this version before Christmas, it might be better to wait until then.

Use ScribeFire to help post my blog entries

This should be a blog post from ScribeFire

I decided that posting to WordPress seemed a bit of a bind at times, uploading images, trying to do code snippets etc. So, this is a test o the ScribeFire plugin for FIrefox that should help.

[This is a picture from Flickr – on openFrameworks]

That image was just put into the stream by a Flickr search, but it could hjust as easily been from an iage on disk. It shows an image generatedusing OpenFrameworks, a C++ library that makes it easy for designers to create generative graphics. It’s cross platform and a lot of fun.

It might take a few seconds while the compile occurs.

Changed the namespace to as recommended

Now need to add the database parts. We shall add an Oracle data class – OracleData. Because this is common code between several (maybe) pages, we should put it into a shared App_Code folder. We can also put in there the main service and reference that file in the asmx file.

Let’s try that piece of random code…

private void btnSelect_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
Button b = (Button)sender;
if (btnSaveEntries.BackColor == RECORD)
// save the entries to a file
// turn off the save flag
// load back from the file
if (LoadEntries(b.Tag.ToString()))
MessageBox.Show("File: " + b.Tag.ToString() + " not found");

It turns out that it doesn’t like blank lines in the code area. Was that ScribeFire or my WordPress styles. Whichever way, it stopped the code tag at that point. (I think this is wordpress)

Scribefire also adds a little tag at the end; looks like one of those single pxel image files of old, to count the number of times it is used no doubt. It could be taken out, but probably does no harm.

Much easier overall, but make sure you go into code mode before pasting in a piece of code. Otherwise it will fill up with &nbsp characters to do the spacing. I’m not sure the spacing is correct yet, but it’s a good start.

Cold Fusion evening

Decided to get an update on the state of Cold FUsion and Ben Forta was in town to speak. He’s always easy to listen to and there was a free beer in there as well. No contest really. It was held in Tiger, Tiger in the Haymarket as they had a good response to the event. It has an intimate downstairs bar where a few geeky people can hide away.

Cold Fusion hasn’t had an IDE for the last ten years and I was interested to see how App Builder, or Cold Fusion Builder would compare to Flex Builder and Flash Catalyst. It is based around the usual Eclipse IDE which makes it very familiar. The beta has been picked up by quite a few people; about 30% of the folk there had tried it. It’s very easy to use with a local server (developers get a free licence for this) The logs can be monitored easily. It has intellisense built in. The refactoring support is improving but limited at the moment to the main methods and properties of classes; more will arrive soon.
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C# Web services from an Oracle database

This is another post about web services; previous one did a quick hello world app and talked more about setting up IIS on an internal web server. This one assumes a mapped drive onto the server, to which we shall upload the service apps. I’m using the F: drive in this case. The folder has been created previously. I’m using VS2008. I’m going to create a test web service to bring back XML from an Oracle database. I’ll give an example of both a SQL statement being used and a stored procedure.

The pdf of this page is OracleDBservices
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Future of Web Apps – day 2

Second day (First day here) warm up was given to Britt Selvitelle (@bs) from Twitter. A tough task given that there was a late PayPal party the previous evening. Twitter are now thinking of the next step; they want more developer involvement so they announced the twitter labs site for this. They are producing their own javascript library. They will be advertising apps on their web site and developers may be able to integrate more closely to the twitter website. At some point they will open source the software stack, so that your twitter pages will be more flexible. Not too many details on the labs site or the API, but they promised to email details of the beta to the FOWA list.

Simon Wardley gave a talk at the Cloud Expo a month or two back and it was just as enjoyable second time round. Simon, from Canonical, is involved with pushing the Amazon EC2 standard into Eucalyptus on Ubuntu servers. An in-house cloud if you like and open source. Hard to write down the humourous way that he talked around the ubiquity of computing and the way that cloud computing will become commoditised. As demand increases and improvements in facilities occur, cloud computing will be everywhere. The transition will move from the current confusion, through management, trust, security to transparency of the services. What concerns him is the need to have an easy way to switch between services, data transfer etc. By moving to the standard for the EC2 API he says that this will help form de facto standards, which will make these problems easier. Componentisation will (vastly) increase the speed of development.
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Future of Web Apps in Kensington – day 1

Another year rolls around to one of my favourite conferences, Future of Web Apps organised by Carsonified. It’s a little smaller this year and returns to the previous venue at the Kensington Town Hall. This is a comfortable size but previous problems with wifi were repeated on the first day. Intermittent though so I didn’t hear too many complaints. There is only one stream this year so we didn’t have to read through all the summaries to decide which to attend. Nice and simple was what I needed as I had been quaffing cocktails til the early hours with a few of the Microsoft web guys. They appeared at the show as well, so it was good to see that they’d survived. (Second day is here)
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Hacking the Google App engine with python

Our company had a hack day last week and I thought that I’d have a look at the Google App engine. I was getting used to the management reply of “do you have a budget code?” when asking for a server in the racks, so I thought that I’d experiment with some data in the cloud. I had taken in the story about the Guardian knocking up a quick python web app using Django to notate the MP’s expenses information. I heard tell it took a week so I thought I might get something simple done in a day.
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