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Friday, April 28, 2006

YAMSWK (Yet Another M$Word-Killer)

My nomination in the category of "best AJAX-based Word workalike" for this week is Zoho Write, one of a suite of impressive Zoho apps. It took a while (30sec) for Firefox to pull down all 51 external .js scripts, but when the app opened, it was a thing of beauty. Imagine my abject stupefaction upon using the Import button to suck in a complex (many tables, many fonts) .sxw file, and seeing it open without errors, looking just the way it should! Yes, Zoho Write handles OpenOffice files. Just as Nature intended.

Unlike a lot of Web2.0 apps, Zoho is not the product of a teenager locked in a closet. Behind the Z-suite is a ten-year-old company, AdventNet, with offices around the world.

This is starting to get exciting.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

109 Laughs

Assignment: Write a 3-dozen-line XML file that will lock up any modern browser.

Answer: See The Billion Laughs attack.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Big Blue: Leaders in Teleportation?

No one will ever accuse Big Blue of clairvoyance. But they just may have a handle on teleportation.

Just for fun, go to IBM's site and do a search on "teleportation."

You'll get 19 hits.

IBM Game Research

The IBM Systems Journal is one of those rare publications that you wish would come out more frequently (just the opposite of drain-clogs like eWeek, which I wish would come out half as often). The journal's content is uniformly excellent, and the subject matter frequently delights. Such is the case with Volume 45, Number 1, 2006, devoted entirely to (of all things) Online Game Technology.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I blogged a while ago about continuations, which may play a role in making AJAX scale well. Today I learned that continuations have been implemented (on an experimental basis) in Mono's virtual machine.

I'm not a Python person so I didn't realize (until after Googling around a bit) that the so-called microthreads of Stackless Python are a way of achieving the same thing.

The key intuition behind stacklessness is that you move everything that would normally be kept on "the stack" out to a data structure on the heap. Therefore one thread can jump between potentially tens of thousands of execution frames.

The ability to run huge numbers of processes concurrently is obviously important in many kinds of applications. If AJAX becomes another driver of this technology, it'll be interesting to see who'll be first to implement a stackless-Java virtual machine.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

XQuery Engines Compared

While digging around for news/views on JRockit, I happened to stumble onto an XQuery-engine comparative evaluation by (of all people) the Washington Publishing Company, a seller of EDI and HIPAA publications. In case you don't have time to wade through the full study (which is a good read, incidentally), the bottom line is, for maximum performance, robustness, and flexibility, you want the Saxon engine running atop the BEA JRockit JVM.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

How to Comment AJAX Code

Lately I've been perusing some of Oracle's Javascript code from its ADF Faces. I see that it's extraordinarily well commented.

I'm looking at it in OpenOffice, so just for fun, I tell OOo to do a regex-search on


and globally replace that with zilch, thereby wiping out all comment lines.

The result? With comments, Oracle's Core.js file is 140 KB. Without comments: 95 KB. Imagine: almost 50K of comments in a 140K file.

I don't think I've ever seen such well-commented code in any language, ever.


Oracle AJAX Best Practices from 2002

AJAX-the-acronym has been around only since 2005, but (as many observers have pointed out) the underlying techniques have been around much longer.

It turns out Oracle has been publishing its own best-practices advice on "Partial Page Rendering" since 2002.

For the very latest Oracle thoughts on AJAX, I suggest reading the comments in their ADF Javascript code.