Dave Johnson on open web technologies, social software and Java
I'm back to work after a week of JavaOne and week of summer-shutdown imposed vacation. What did I do on my vacation? After returning from JavaOne, I joined the rest of the family at the grandparent's new beach/golf house close to Topsail Island, NC. I tried my best to avoid work. I did pretty well and that's not as easy as it sounds; I first starting working on Roller during a summer vacation at Ocracoke Island.
I forced myself to take a break. I did the beach thing: dragged beach chairs and umbrellas around, covered my body in sunblock, built sand-drip castles, etc. I showed the boys the original three Star Wars films. I saw The War of the Worlds, which was surprisingly good in a summer fun movie kind of way. I read Freakonomics, also good. That was great; I needed a break. Now I'm back, the older boys are in all-day camp at the YMCA, I'm ready to get back into Roller 2.0 group blogging work.
Lots of cool news during the general session this morning. I took lots of notes, but I've got no time to type them all in. So, here are the high-lights from my point of view (and in the order they were mentioned):
Pardon (and correct) me if I don't have all the details right. I don't have time to write up Graham Hamilton's presentation on Java SE, EE and ME. Maybe later. Gotta run...
Microsoft made a series of RSS related announcements this week. They, like many others, have realized that RSS is not just for blogs anymore. It's for everything from package tracking, monitoring network events, distributing files, synchronizing calendars, DTrace, monitoring your motor fleet, sharing playlists, exchanging photos -- anything that you might want to subscribe to. RSS support should be built right-into the computing platform and that's what Microsoft is doing.
Note that they use the term RSS as a blanket term that refers to the "general concept of feeds of syndicated content." So, in the eyes of Microsoft, the term RSS also includes the new IETF standard Atom Publishing Format.
From what I've read so far, there are three announcements:
1. IE7 will include feed autodiscovery
Well, duh. Just like Safari RSS and Firefox do now, IE7 will recognize when a web page has a feed and will make it easy for you to subscribe to that feed.
2. Longhorn will include a built-in newsfeed datastore
Microsoft's new "Longhorn" OS will keep track of your feeds for you. You can organize them into folders will download them as needed (including an Podcasts or other enclosures they contain) and make them available for all of your applications. This is great for Windows-only application developers, because they no longer have to worry about parsing feeds, caching feeds and annoying things like ETags and HTTP conditional GET -- Longhorn will do that for you.
It's not clear what kind of user-interface will be provided with the Longhorn aggregator. Will it include a feed reader interface like FeedDemon or NetNewsWire or will Microsoft leave that for 3rd party developers?
In Java-land, ROME provides almost all the pieces you need to build such a feed datastore. It's got a parser that can handle any format and extensions. It's got a "fetcher" that fetches and caches feeds and plays nice with ETags, HTTP conditional GET, and FeedDiff. It's got an abstract data model that can represent any type of feed. That's why I say Microsoft is on the road to ROME too.
3. Longhorn will extend RSS to give it better list-handling capabilities
Microsoft's new Simple List Extensions Specification makes it easier to use a newsfeed as a sortable list of items. The extension looks pretty simple, but I believe it will break a lot of parsers because of the way it wraps existing elements (see Phil Ringnalda's post for example). Most feed extensions add new elements, but don't wrap existing elements in this way. ROME's extension handle might need to be redesigned to accommodate this type of extension.
This is all cool stuff and if you want to be able to do it in Java, then join up with the ROME project. Java can get there first.
Something odd just happened in my aggregator and I'm not sure how to explain it. I was reading through my Java related subscriptions and I noticed that The Server Side feed had just one entry, an "AD" for a service called Pheedo. It looked like this:
So I went to theserverside.com and checked their newsfeed. It looked just fine and did not contain even one reference to Pheedo. Hmmm. What happened? So, I went back to NetNewsWire and choose "View XML Source" for The Server Side feed. I saw a feed with a The Server Side header and an atom:link element pointing to Pheedo with rel="start". See the screenshot below:
So, what happened here? Just a glitch when The Server Side installed the Pheedo stuff or something more sinister. One thing's for sure, we're gonna need Adblock for feed-readers real soon now.
I'm attending JavaOne 2005 next week and speaking on Thursday at noon. The talk is titled Beyond Blogging: Feed Syndication and Publishing With Javaâ¢ Technology (TS-7318) and there are four speakers Alejandro Abdelnur (not attending), Pat Chanezon, Kevin Burton and myself.
I missed the fortnightly Raleigh bloggers meetup last night. We were out celebrating Leo's third birthday, Andi's birthday and the sale of our old house in Charlotte. I'm going to try to make it to the Chapel Hill meetup tonight, but it looks like work might run a little late today.
I convinced Andi that Alex(8) and Linus(7) are old enough for the Star Wars films. So, this past weekend we watched episides I, II and III. We started with Episode 1.1: The Phantom Edit, a fan-edited version of the film that includes much less Jar Jar than before. They boys thought they could have cut more; I kid you not. I thought the Phantom Edit was a little too fuzzy to enjoy. I guess that's because it was created from a VHS copy of the film.
I think the boys enjoyed Episode II: Attack of the Clones more than Episode I, but there was a little too much kissing. It's funny to see the kids cringe when Anakin and Padme get all mushy.
It was Andi's birthday on Sunday, so she took Alex and Linus to Episode III and I stayed home with the little Leo. They enjoyed it the most of the three, but Linus was a little disturbed when he saw what happened to Anakin. I don't think he was really traumatized, at least not as bad as he was on The Mummy (whatever you do, do NOT mention The Mummy to Linus).
I wonder what they're going to think of the original films. Will they see IV and V as the awesome classics that I know them to be, or dated and dull after the orgy of special effects they've just gone through in the prequels.