January 02, 2005

New years aspirations: technology

Resolutions sounds a bit to much like commitment for my liking. So here's my (WIP) list of things I shall be trying to learn a bit more about this year:

  • Javascript; I think that GMail may turn out to raise the expectation bar for browser clients to the point where users no longer accept plain HTML web forms. It may not happen until later this year or next, but I probably need to find out how that shit actually works

  • XSLT; One day someone's going to come up with an external XML feed that we need to transform, and that we can't just write a new front-end for. I really ought to know enough XSLT to fix that, when the time arrives.

  • perl; More and more of the functionality I write is just tying together a couple of web interfaces. Java is a sledgehammer to crack a nut in that situation. I could go for something cooler like python or groovy, but perl has the benefit of a bazillion programmer-hours of experience backing it up. I used to be quite good at it, and I think there's probably a case for re-learning it.

No doubt I'll be adding to this list as I go along; and of course there are the non-tech lists to consider (of which more later). But this is probably enough to be getting on with.


- 5 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. I rather like Javascript for somethings. It has a nice clear syntax and the exposure of all objects in a page through the DOM is very handy for modifying stuff without requiring a page submit.

    02 Jan 2005, 21:53

  2. XLST rocks as well. I've used it in a .NET web application I worked on over the summer and for some of the Warwick Boar publishing system I helped to develop (I don't know if my code ever made it into the final incarnation of the software). It does make it so much easier to change XML output without going to the trouble of creating some bespoke application/script to do the job.

    I've done a fair amount of perl and cgi web app development during summer placements so I'd agree it is great for that sort of stuff. Regular expressions rule :–)

    02 Jan 2005, 22:02

  3. Chris May

    That ("modifying stuff without requring a page submit") is the kind of thing I'm interested in.

    I particularly like google's trick of using javascript HTTP requests in a page to load new javascript functions (rather than the data–only approach of XMLHTTPRequest), which then execute within the page, requesting their own new functions as needed – it appeals to the part of me that used to write self–modifying code on the C=64 :–)

    It seems to me that we might just about have reached ( or be about the reach) the stage in the university when we can assume that the number of people unable to run a decent, standards–compliant browser, is small enough to ignore. That would be a good starting point (recalling that, until last year, the default browser on the managed desktop was Netscape 4!!)

    02 Jan 2005, 22:08

  4. I'm sure you'll get a couple of hardcore computer scientists who will moan because they cannot view a page because they insist on using Lynx :–)

    02 Jan 2005, 22:42

  5. Aw, this means I've got to go and recompile links with Javascript support… sigh. You will make things difficult for us hardcore computer scientists, won't you? Oh wait, I'm a mathematician… oh, and I use Firefox really… but the principle is the same, dammit!

    03 Jan 2005, 12:15


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