Merb to be Merged into Rails 3.0

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Yesterday the Ruby on Rails team broke the news: the alternative Ruby web application framework, Merb, will be merged into Ruby on Rails 3.0. Merb, which was already closely patterned after Rails, brings performance, modularity, and better integration with alternative JavaScript and ORM frameworks to the table. The default Rails configuration will still be the "full stack" framework, which uses ActiveRecord and Prototype, but there will also be a "Rails Core" with the ability to opt into specific other (e.g. JavaScript or ORM) frameworks as desired.

You can read the announcements by DHH here and Yahuda Katz here.

Ajax for the Lazy: Ajaxify

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From the "good to know" deptartment: a new jQuery plugin for converting existing links on a page to AJAX load and submit requests is available: Ajaxify.

Some examples:

//The easiest way: binds "click" event to existing "href" attribute
//and loads it into the portion of the page specified by the "target"
//attribute
$("#some_id").ajaxify();

//With options
$('#some_id').ajaxify({
        link:'example.php?action=options&ajax=true',
        target: '#container',
        loading_img:'images/orange_loading.gif',
        title:'Setting up options',
        method:'POST'
});

The Ajaxify plug-in also supports partial loads and forms. A demo page is available here.

jQuery 1.3 Beta 1

The first beta release of jQuery 1.3 is out.

Changes since 1.2.x:

  • New CSS selector engine (Sizzle)
  • Rewrite of DOM manipulation
  • Rewrite of namespaced event handling
  • Rewrite of .offset()
  • And more...

See earlier coverage here for more details.

Get jQuery 1.3 beta 1 here.

Opera 10 Alpha Released

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Opera Software has released the first alpha of its Opera 10 browser, the first public release to pass the Acid 3 test. The release marks the debut of version 2.2 of Opera's Presto rendering engine.

New and notable:

  • Up to 30% faster page rendering than previous releases.
  • Support for the web fonts CSS 3 module.
  • RGBA and HSLA opacity, e.g. background-color: rgba(255,0,0,0.5) or background-color: hsla(240, 100%, 50%, 0.5).
  • Support for the Selectors API.
  • Improved support for SVG, including frames-per-second on animations and ability to use SVG web fonts.
  • Improvements to the Opera Dragonfly set of developer tools, including the addition of a network tab (a la Firebug) and live DOM editing (nice!).
  • Built-in browser inline spell checking and auto-updates.

The Opera 10 alpha release can be downloaded here. The current stable release is version 9.6, and is available from the main page.

FireUnit

John Resig has just publicly announced a new extension/framework for unit testing JavaScript code with Firefox/Firebug called FireUnit. The framework provides a simple API for reporting test results within a new tab in Firebug. It also provides some methods for simulating browser events. Developers can use a local HTTP test server for running unit tests that need to simulate a network communication.

FireUnit requires Firefox 3+ and Firebug 1.2+. You can grab the extension and source code here.

There are some examples of how to write a test case here, and there is a blog entry on FireUnit by the other co-author here.

jQuery Patches for 1.3

Offering a sneak peak of what will be in the new version, John Resig has released the first in a series of patches to jQuery in preparation for the 1.3 beta release. They are:

  • A patch to the .domManip method to use DocumentFragments, resulting in manipulation code (append, prepend, etc.) that is about 15x faster.
  • Addition of a .closest(selector) method which starts with the current node and traverses the parents in the DOM tree to match the selector (think "first self or ancestor"):
    closest: function( selector ) {
              return this.map(function() {
                  var cur = this;
                  while ( cur && cur.ownerDocument ) {
                       if ( jQuery(cur).is(selector) )
                          return cur;
                       cur = cur.parentNode;
                  }
               });
    }
  • A patch to the seminal DOM ready() method that backs off attempting to detect the loading of stylesheets (apparently not possible according to Resig) to normal "document ready" functionality.
  • Addition of multiple-namespace support for events.
  • A new internal property that keeps track of the selector chain (mainly for use by plug-in authors).

The new jQuery 1.3 will also feature the Sizzle JavaScript CSS selector engine as well as revamped implementations of all the selector-based methods.

You can read all about the new patches in Resig's original post here.

Update: the new Sizzle engine has been added to the 1.3 trunk.

DWR version 3.0 Release Candidate 1

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DWR version 3.0 has reached release candidate 1. Here's what's new right from Joe Walker's Blog:

  • RPC Enhancements
    • Varargs support
    • Method overloading (DWR tries to copy Java's method matching rules)
    • Typed parameters (so you can say new Apple() in JavaScript and pass it to the addFruit() method and DWR will instantiate the correct type on the server)
    • Lightweight typed parameters (as above, but by adding $dwrClassName:"Apple", for when you are getting the objects from something else)
    • More natural synchronous XHR (so you can call var reply = Remote.getData() when doing 'Sjax')
  • Improved Marshalling
    • Binary file upload/download (byte[], java.awt.BufferedImage, InputStream etc and FileTransfer can be uploaded from an input type=file, offered for download, or sent to an img)
    • Functions (Store a reference to a JavaScript function on the server for later execution)
    • Objects by Reference (Store a reference to a JavaScript object, and then call methods on that)
    • Locale, Currency (DWR will marshal to and from java.util.Locale and java.util.Currency objects)
  • Reverse Ajax
    • JavaScript can now implement a Java interface (For simple integration with Java Events/Listeners)
    • More scalable Reverse Ajax APIs (See org.directwebremoting.Browser)
    • DOM Manipulation Library (Window and Document can now be manipulated from the server)
    • The server now runs in 3 modes: stateless (New - save memory with no page tracking), passiveReverseAjax (the default) and activeReverseAjax (comet enabled)
  • TIBCO GI Integration
    • Complete set of Reverse Ajax Proxy APIs (So you can manipulate your GI user interface from Java on the server)
  • Dojo Integration
    • Data Store (Keep a server side data store in sync with data in a client browser with both sides able to send updates. The data store also supports paging, sorting and filtering)
    • Packaging Integration (dojo.require all your DWR scripts)
  • Server Support
    • Asynchronous servlet support for Tomcat and Glassfish
    • Improved Spring and Guice support
  • Over the wire
    • JSONP support
    • JSON-RPC support
  • Tech Previews
    • JMS Integration (Publish to the browser directly from JMS)
    • Jaxer Integration (Zero configuration for trusted environments)
  • Infrastructure
    • SVN (We've moved from CVS to SVN)
    • Related Projects (Our repository contains a set of related projects including a number of demos)
    • CLA (We've been through a legal review and have signed CLAs for dwr.jar)
    • Dojo Foundation (We joined the Dojo Foundation and are now hosted by their servers)
    • Better Documentation (DWR version 1.x had great docs. Version 2.x let things slide a bit, but we've dropped Drupal, and have our own system now)
    • You can download it here.

      Read the full post

Tapestry 5 Released

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The 5.0.18 version of Apache Tapestry has been christened as the first release of Tapestry 5. The release is the capstone of long effort to re-write the web application framework from scratch, removing a lot of the complexity of previous releases toward a more POJO and annotations-driven approach (and making it non-backward compatible with version 4, a sore point for some current Tapestry users).

For those who don't know, Tapestry is a component-based web application framework (one of the original) for Java similar to JSF or Wicket.

New features:

  • POJO component classes: no interfaces or base classes required
  • Minimalized configuration via annotations and naming conventions
  • Live class reloading (think JavaRebel)
  • Its own dependency injection framework (Tapestry IoC)
  • Built-in AJAX support via Prototype/Scriptaculous
  • Tapestry template pages are now valid XHTML (with a custom namespace for Tapestry), making them easier to work with, especially when round-tripping between designers and programmers (an approach similar to Wicket's)
  • Automatic REST-style URLs
  • Automatic client-side form input validation
  • Built-in components such as BeanEditForm, BeanDisplay, and Grid
  • Really nice exception handling

You can download the release here, or (for Maven-style dependency management junkies like myself) reference the dependency: org.apache.tapestry:tapestry-core:5.0.18.

Google Chrome Out of Beta

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Google Chrome has just turned the big 1.0, as the browser has met Google's requirements for stability and performance.

Changes from the Beta

A short list of improvements includes:

Of course, the Chrome team isn't done yet. Future enhancements to the browser include form autofill, RSS support, and extensions.

You can download Chrome here.

Aptana PHP Development Environment Released

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You may have used Aptana's IDE for Ajax development. The IDE is a very good one and it just got better for us PHP developers. Aptana has announced the release of a PHP plugin for their IDE.

Below is an excerpt from the announcement.

PHP development and deployment just got way easier. Today, we're pleased to announce the 1.0 availability of the Aptana PHP development environment. It's got all the things you'd expect from a PHP IDE, plus all the Ajax tooling and other power tools from Aptana Studio. Combine that with the integrated PHP app hosting, staging and management features in Aptana Cloud and you've got an end-to-end PHP development and deployment environment with unprecedented ease of use.

You can read the full post here.

It's always good to see one of my favorite languages get more support in tools that many of us already use. Thanks Aptana, you gave me something to play with this weekend.

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