Monday, July 25, 2011

MediaWiki geographic markup at Wikipedia

I saw some useful geographic markup at wikipedia today.

The article for the town of Dawson Creek ends with graphic display of relevant links by direction.

Wikipedia is generated by MediaWiki, itself written in server-side PHP.  You will not see the markup unless you run EDIT on the geo links section.  What you will see then is:

{{Canadian City Geographic Location (8-way)
|Centre    = Dawson Creek
|Northwest = [[Fort St. John, British Columbia|Fort St. John]]
|North     = [[Taylor, British Columbia|Taylor]]
|Northeast = [[Fairview, Alberta (town)|Fairview]]
|East      = [[Rycroft, Alberta|Rycroft]]
|Southeast = [[Hythe, Alberta|Hythe]]
|South     = [[Pouce Coupe, British Columbia|Pouce Coupe]]
|Southwest = [[Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia|Tumbler Ridge]]
|West      = [[Chetwynd, British Columbia|Chetwynd]]
|image_flag            =
Over at my Curl blog I'll place some Curl code that does the same on the client side of a browser.  This will not require an 'extension' to Curl but will simply be a declarative use of an instance of a user class or of a user macro.

Really quite simple and useful for the towns accessible from the junction of highways which form Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Skype and the Future (past and present)

A very few years ago CIO's and CTO's were declaring that web applications were the future.  Significant software projects were launched to convert best-of-breed programs from being desktop applications to being something presentable in a web browser - often at the expense of improved or new functionality.

Having spent a few years on such projects in niche financials for medical pricing and business risks, I have a question for top managers who drank the kool-aid: explain Skype.

Skype is not running in my web browser.  It is a desktop application which happens to run over the internet. Had the FCC ruled otherwise, it could even have been ruled in the USA to be telecom software or have been barred from dialing POTS subscribers or cell phones.

It is not always very well-behaved. It does not update in the background.  Smart is not a word that comes to mind.  It is very popular and it is on handheld devices as an application.

Would you want it running in an HTML browser under HTML5?

Why?  HTML pages are delivered over HTTP using TCP/IP.  Text-chat, audio-chat and video-chat software   may run using a protocol which is neutral as to whether TCP/IP is the protocol or UDP or other.

That Skype is a desktop application comes as no surprise to those who continue to use IRC.

Would we ask developers why Eclipse or Visual Studio have not been converted to run in a Web Browser?

At least no one is asking whether Skype is acceptable as an instance of a RESTful architecture.

Someone may want to argue that Skype is a variant of an RIA for some of its more annoying 'features' that come and go.  Because the Skype client app's internet communication protocol is proprietary, a Gnu video chat is due: perhaps it will be RESTful and run in Firefox.

If Skype can be on your desktop, why is the only "browser" on your desktop running HTTP with HTML as the content markup?  Perhaps a million browsers did not bloom, but at least two alternatives to HTML appeared.

What does strike me when looking at opensource web application server frameworks is that they are almost all tightly coupled to HTML.  They are not likely going to survive communications services 3.0 (whatever that proves to be.)

The irony will be when the Chrome browser dissolves into applets running on an OS - applets for which HTML will be the exception rather than the rule for applets doing anything beyond lookup/display, err, 'browse'.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Chrome, Safari, WebKit and those cookie settings ...

I changed a cookie setting to comply with a web page in Chrome. Nothing happened. Re-started Chrome, checked for my change, still the page protested. Hmmm.  WebKit.

Stopped Chrome.  Started Safari.  Made that SAME change to the cookie setting.  Stopped Safari.

Started Chrome and voilĂ !  There's the change in effect.