Free Web Based Contraction Timer


If you are a regular reader of this blog (and I hope that you are or are becoming one) you have probably noticed that I haven't posted anything for about a week. Well, the reason for this is that my wife and I have been blessed with our first child (Thomas Richard Hurth).

In the process of waiting for labor, my job was to time the contractions. In having this important task I found a web application that makes the job much easier called Contraction Master.

Contraction Master is very easy to use, you simply click on Start Timing Contractions and then you hit the space bar at the start and end of each contraction. The application keeps a log for you so you know when to go to the hospital.

You can get to the Contraction Master here.

I hope that anybody that may be expecting a child will find this application useful and I would love to hear your experience with it.

jQuery UI 1.5 - Rethinking UI

Congratulations to the jQuery UI team on their release of jQuery UI 1.5!

jQuery UI provides low to high-level interactions and themeable widgets for your rich internet applications. Since it's built on the jQuery JavaScript Library, you have a solid foundation on which to build your apps. The library revolves around different mouse interactions, including drag/drop, sorting, selecting, and resizing. Also, you can expect to find the jQuery Enchant effects framework along with some reusable widgets [accordions, date picks, dialogs, sliders, and tabs] included in this release.

What's new?

- Refactored API
95% less exposed methods means 95% less methods you have to remember.

- Increased Stability
A dedicated bug tracker, new unit tests, and the addition of jquery.simulate.js - a plugin specifically designed to fire true browser events..

- Effects
As mentioned above, this release includes Enchant as a part of jQuery UI and includes features like advanced easing, class transitions (morphing) and color animations. You also get all the effects that come standard with (blind,bounce,drop,fold,slide …), but also some new effects like transfer, explode. clip, and scale. Check out the demos.

View the changelog for a full list of features, bug fixes, and other changes in this release

Imagine you've downloaded a new UI library and are ready to integrate it into one of your applications, what's one of your big obstacles? That's right, figuring out how to get it to match your application's color scheme and look and feel. Wouldn't it be nice if you had a tool that could easily do most of the work for you?

Well get ready for ThemeRoller: a new theme creator for the jQuery UI library created by the crew at the Filament Group in Boston.

ThemeRoller gives you the ability to style your jQuery UI components in minutes. You can easily preview your theme as you make adjustments and when you're done, you can download a ZIP package containing the css, image, and demo page files for your theme. If you don't feel like rolling your own, or maybe want some inspiration, check out ThemeRoller's gallery to browse and download a variety of predefined themes.

Special thanks has to be given to the Liferay staff, who invested countless hours into the development of the new UI website, and with whom the team worked closely together to stabilize jQuery UI for all kinds of enterprise situations.

jQuery UI v1.5 Final Release:

Check out Themeroller

Image Manipulation with JavaScript


Ajaxorized has released a GPL licensed image manipulation script called Phototype. Phototype is a client/server-side library, based on prototype, which provides image manipulation functionality. On the server, it uses the PHP/GD framework to render the image. While the client is an interface that makes these features easily accessible in JavaScript, including the ability to chain effects.

l_oPhoto = new Photo().load("test.jpg").dropShadow().flipH().makeSketchy();

Phototype supports:

  • image rotatation
  • resizing
  • flipping
  • drop shadows
  • effects
  • grey scale
  • captions
  • as well as an addChuckNorris() method [for all you Walker, Texas Ranger fans]




Read more about Phototype

Animated Lightweight JavaScript Tooltip


Michael Leigeber has released an animated JavaScript tooltip script that weighs in at a mere 2kb. It's compatible with IE6+, Firefox, Opera and Safari. A detailed description and implementation guide has been posted at Six Revisions.

Click here to visit the post at Six Revisions.
Click here for the demo.
Click here to download the script.

GI 3.6.0 Milestone 1 Preview Release Available


TIBCO has announced a milestone release for their General Interface Ajax Framework. Version 3.6 Milestone 1 is a preview intended for anyone considering migrations of their existing GI applications.

Via the release notes, here are the new features included in this release:

General Interface Template Language
The General Interface template language simplifies the creation of custom GUI components by using a technique that is already familiar to web developers—it builds on your knowledge of HTML and JavaScript. Using the General Interface template language, you can convert a single snippet of HTML—a widget—into a re-usable component. This means that if you’ve developed user interface components that combine HTML and JavaScript code, you can convert the functional user interface HTML elements into a General Interface template for custom usage.

CDF Form Mapping
A new CDF form mapping class is included in this release, jsx3.gui.CDF. This new class enables developers to map a CDF document in the local cache to on-screen form fields. By combining the features of jsx3.gui.Block and jsx3.xml.Cacheable, this new class enables developers to read and write cache data without the need to author additional JavaScript code. In other words, this new class is a visual container that knows how to bind the form fields it contains to values in a CDF document:

JSON mapping
General Interface has also added the JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) data interchange format to the XML Mapping Utility file types. The Mapping Utility uses these file types as the starting point to generate the mapping rules file. You specify the URL for the file you need for your use case, which contains a JSON string. The Mapping Utility evaluates the string and returns a JavaScript object.

To download GI 3.6 milestone 1, or the current stable release 3.5.1, visit

Also check out some additional GI resources and view the new GI Video Tutorials

Web Services, Part 2: WSDL and WADL


Part 1 of this series talks about SOAP vs. REST. In this installment I'll discuss the reasons for defining the web service contract between client and server, the existing methods for doing it, and the important concepts of each.

Defining the Contract

An important part of any web service is the contract (or interface) which it defines between the service and any clients that might use it. This is important for a number of reasons: visualization with tools, interaction with other specifications (e.g., web service choreography), code generation, and enforcing a high-level agreement between the client and service provided (that still gives the service freedom to change the underlying implementation). Taken together, they give pretty compelling use cases for having web services contracts, although advocates of minimalism may disagree.

When IBM, Microsoft, and Ariba submitted WSDL 1.1 to the W3C in 2001 as a language for describing web services in conjunction with SOAP 1.1, HTTP POST and GET, and MIME, it quickly became a standard used by every SOAP toolkit. This happened in spite of the fact that it never progressed beyond being a W3C Note (which, according to W3C, is a document available for "discussion" and not officially endorsed by the W3C). In fact, though there is both a WSDL 1.1 and 1.2, WSDL 2.0 is the only version of the specification officially endorsed by the W3C.

With the rise in popularity of RESTful web services, there also became a need to describe contracts for these types of web services as well. Although WSDL 2.0 attempts to fill the gap by providing support for HTTP binding, another specification fills this need in an arguably better way: WADL , a specification developed at Sun by Marc Hadley. Though it has not been submitted to any official standards body (OASIS, W3C, etc.), WADL is promising because of its more comprehensive support for REST-style services.

Vista-like [not in a buggy way] JavaScript/PHP Datepicker


Over at dev.base86, they've released version 2 of their Vista-like Ajax Calendar (vlaCalendar). The vlaCalendar is an unobtrusive JavaScript library that ports the UI functionality of the Windows Vista datepicker control to the web. The library requires the MooTools JavaScript framework as well as PHP.

In their own words:
Key features:

  • Authentic Vista look-and-feel
    • Quick navigation by jumping back and forth between months, years and decades without drop-down boxes
    • Smooth transition animations
  • Customizable features
  • Lightweight (compressed 8,50kB)

New features in version 2:

  • Cleaner and more developer centered - easily editable - CSS, PHP and javascript code
    • Easily changeable date labels (e.g. different languages)
    • Easily stylable. Styles are created on top of the general style; the download include two example styles
    • Both normal and datepicker calendar can be instantiated multiple times

The vlaCalendar has been tested on:

Rails 2.1 Released


Recently announced at the Ruby on Rails Weblog, Rails 2.1 has been released.

The new major features are:

Read More - The Unofficial Google Shell


It's interesting that I just finished up a post on keypress navigation, because I've come across a little gem called goosh [goo-sh], an Ajax-based UNIX-like Google search shell that enables you to use the Google search engine with only your keyboard. Sporting a variety of commands listed in its help menu, goosh is just what you need to make your Googling just that much quicker.

Google itself has seen the value in adding keystroke navigation to their search engine as shown in one of the experimental search tools in Google Labs [demo].

Check your mouse at the door and visit

Implement Keypress Navigation using jQuery

Bedrich Rios at has put together a tutorial for creating keypress navigation using the jQuery JavaScript library. A keypress navigation, if implemented well, can increase usability of your web applications and sites. Basically, you create a way for users to navigate through your site [or part of it] without the use of their mouse. This has long been possible/common with rich desktop applications, but usually isn't implemented in many of today's web applications.

Bedrich's 8 step tutorial will have you creating keypress navigations in no time. Check out the demo if you want to get a taste. For the 8 course meal, visit How to Create A Keypress Navigation Using jQuery

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