Blogs

Browser Battle Update

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According to Net Applications, use of Internet Explorer dropped to 67.55% of the market in January of 2009, down a precipitous 12% from nearly 80% of the market in February of 2007. Most of this share was lost to Firefox (about 7%, as FF jumped from 14% to 21% in the same time frame), and a surprisingly surging Safari (about 4%, since Safari went from 4% to 8% in the same time frame). Google's Chrome went from 0 to 1% in 5 short months, so it is certainly one to watch as well.

My (surprising?) prediction: Safari 4 is going to be one of the best browsers to use in 2009. With fast Webkit page rendering speed, knock-your-socks-off JavaScript speed (courtesy of SquirrelFish Extreme), and Acid 3 compliance, what more could you ask for? Firefox 3.1 will have blazing JavaScript speed, too, but with page rendering not quite as fast as Webkit. Nevertheless, Firefox 3.1 will still be the more mature and tested-against browser so you'll want to have it handy even if you opt for Safari (or Chrome) as your main browser.

Stay tuned. It's going to be an interesting year...

Opera Announces New JavaScript Engine

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With the recent blistering advances in browser-based JavaScript speed led by Google's V8, Webkit's Squirrelfish (Extreme), and Mozilla's TraceMonkey, browsers like IE and Opera are beginning to feel left behind. Not content to sit on the sidelines, the Opera team has announced their own next-generation JavaScript engine, Carakan.

Carakan will feature the following changes over its predecessor:

  • Register-based bytecode (vs. stack-based). This scheme uses fixed blocks (registers) of memory rather than a stack and gives direct access for the program to variables in any register rather than looking for them at the top of the stack.
    The end result is less copying and less processor instructions being executed.
  • Native code generation for performance-sensitive code. Based on a static type analysis with a richer type system than is supported directly in JavaScript, the new engine will compile performance sensitive sections of code (e.g., loops with integer arithmetic and regular expressions) straight into native code rather than process them through a bytecode interpreter.
  • Automatic classification of objects based upon common prototypes and properties. The dynamic assignment of classes to JavaScript objects based upon their prototypes and existing property names allows the use of shared lookup structures. Since real-world JavaScript programs tend to create many objects but much fewer "types", this scheme improves memory usage and performance.

The current incarnation of Carakan (sans native code generation) is about 2.5 times faster than the JavaScript in Opera 10 (alpha). After native code generation "lands" in the new engine, anticipated speed increases are somewhere between 5 and 50 times faster than the current engine.

WADL Draft Updated

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The Web Application Description Language--"WSDL for REST"--draft has been updated by Marc Hadley. The namespace has been changed to "http://wadl.dev.java.net/2009/02" to reflect the new draft, and other minor improvements over the Novemeber 2006 version have been incorporated. New and notable:

  • The status attribute was moved from the representation element to the response element. The cardinality of the response element was changed from 0–1 to 0–many. The fault element was removed.
  • Allow parameters at top level and parameter references to prevent repetition when a parameter is used in multiple places.
  • A resource type element may now contain resource child elements.
  • Allow multiple resources elements within an application.

If you're a RESTafarian who still believes in contract-first web services design, don't miss it. You can view the new draft here.

New Studio Suite & SDK released for simple, cost-effective web development

Visual WebGui Studio Suite enables the building of enterprise-class rich internet applications with two open source products: The Professional Studio that offers subscribers unlimited technical support with enterprise-grade warranty and service level agreement (SLA) which is available for free download and the free Express Studio allowing absolutely free web development coupled with VS2008 Express Edition.

The new Professional Studio Suite also offers enhanced developer experience (DX), and simplifies all aspects of web development to a degree never realized in web development before. Apart from the VWG designer, the feature list also includes complete integration into Visual Studio & ASP.NET, the complete Windows Forms Controls toolkit, 3rd party controls wrapper wizard and more. All these enable you to leverage existing skill sets, software assets, and infrastructure providing an overall faster time to market and reduced development costs.

In addition, enterprise grade scalability and redundancy are available with server extensions and new enterprise-class services, such as prototyping, consulting, hot-fixes and more are available in order to optimize the development experience. Visual WebGui’s commercial Studio Suite will offer commercial deployments at absolutely no additional cost.

Major Features:
DataGridView bi-directional data-binding support added
Top-level property for a Form control implemented same as WinForms
Major Visual Studio Integration stabilizations.
Major Designer stabilizations.
Presentation layer selector added.
Ordering Tree-View functionality added
VB project templates set completed (as in C#)
Fully functional ImageList capabilities added

A large number of bug fixes and adjustments towards WinForms API and runtime behavior also included.

Free Download here.

Visual WebGui AJAX Framework for Enterprises

Java 6 Update 12

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Sun has released the newest version of the Java runtime, Java 6 u12. Earlier versions of the language, Java 5 and 1.4.2, have also been revved to 1.5.0_17 and 1.4.2_19 respectively. Most notable in this release is 64-bit support as well as support for Windows 2008. There are also a number of bug fixes and performance enhancements (especially to JavaFX) as described in the release notes here.

You can download the new JRE or JDK here.

Ruby 1.9.1 Released

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The first stable build of Ruby 1.9.1 has been released. Ruby 1.9 represents some significant changes over 1.8, including internationalization support, many syntactic changes to the language, and new features such as fibers.

A list of changes is here.

This release also has significant impact on alternative implementations of Ruby as well. As Charles Nutter noted in the thread following the release announcement:

Congratulations! Now that the stable release is out, we will pull 1.9.1 stdlib into JRuby. We'll ship our 1.9.1-compatible (mostly? hopefully?) release of JRuby 1.2 in late February.

The release packages can be downloaded (files "ruby-1.9.1-p0.*") from the ftp directory here. (Note these packages are not pre-built binaries but source drops that require the appropriate C++ compiler.)

Update: the binary distribution of Ruby-1.9.1 has hit the official download page.

Referencing Subtypes in Generics

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I ran into a problem recently while programming in Java where I wanted to define an interface method that returned a generic type which was tied to the type of the implementing class. If that sounds a little long-winded, let me give an example...

Let's say we have a Thing interface that defines a method for getting a type token, public Class<T> getType(). The Thing interface has several implementers, MyThing, YourThing, HisThing, HerThing, and so on. How does one make sure that T is the right subtype in the interface, which has no "knowledge" of its implementers (the same could be said of any base class and subclass as well)? Actually, the answer was sitting right under my nose in the core java libraries themselves, in the Enum class, whose declaration looks like this:

public abstract class Enum<E extends Enum<E>>

The E generic type looks a little confusing at first, like a kind of recursive definition. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense: E is a subclass of an Enum type that is generified with the type--what else?--E. And E must be the appropriate subtype in any implementing class. So getting back to our little example, I could now retrofit my Thing interface to look like:

public interface Thing<T extends Thing<T>> {
     public Class<T> getType();
}

Any implementer now simply references itself in the generic type declaration:

public class MyThing implements Thing<MyThing> {
     public Class<MyThing> getType() { ... }
}

Most programmers prefer to think of generics only in the context of collections. But this provides a good example of how generics can establish type relationships in ways that are not possible in more traditional OOP methodology.

JavaScript Paradise

The past month I have been working on a project using Flash. The project is almost done and in between finishing the project I've had to work on a heavy JavaScript project. After working in Flash for a while and then going back to JavaScript you start to realize how much better ActionScript is over JavaScript.

There are quite a few things that ActionScript has over JavaScript the below list has just a few.

  • Strong Variable Typing
  • Ability to Control the Graphical Display Easily in Script (with no cross browser issues)
  • No Cross Browser Issues (other than no plug-in)
  • A Good IDE With a Nice Debugger
  • Better Cross-Domain XML Support

My recent playing in ActionScript made me hope that we will see some of it's features incorporated in JavaScript. While much of this is in the works who knows when the 10K LB beast known as IE will allow for these features to be available cross browser.

Playing in ActionScript has made think of what life would be like in JavaScript Paradise.

Google's AJAX Playground

Google has created an online resource for testing your JavaScript code, the AJAX APIs Playground. The tool includes support for a number of Google APIs (including Maps, Earth, Blogger Data, and Visualization) as well as jQuery, jQuery UI, Prototype/Scriptaculous, MooTools, and Dojo.

Eclipse Announces PDT 2.0 Release

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The Eclipse Foundation has announced the 2.0 release of the Eclipse PHP Development Tools project (PDT). The project is sponsored by Zend and forms the basis of the commercial product Zend Studio.

Major features of this release include:

  • A Hierarchy view for navigating the PHP object hierarchy.
  • Easy searching for PHP types.
  • Override indicators for PHP methods that override other methods.
  • Performance improvements from using a new indexing and caching engine from the DLTK project.
  • Improved code completion.

The PDT project is one of Eclipse's most popular downloads, with more than 1 million downloads to date. The plug-ins are available from the download page or through the download site at:

http://download.eclipse.org/tools/pdt/updates

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