How NOT to do Web 2.0 – No Cork is not near Drogheda

Web 2.0 is great – it allows users to get involved on your website. shows not how to do it. Just be lazy and not bother to tell your website that Cork is not near Drogheda (for our non-Irish-based readers, they’re at opposite ends of the country, about a 4-5hr commute!).

Why should I bother to report to you that ‘Cork is not Drogheda’ if you haven’t done your basic research and looked at the map? Save your ‘wisdom of crowds’ stuff for items that you can’t find anywhere else.

How much did you pay for Radiohead In Rainbows?

Downloading the latest Radiohead (In Rainbows) Album now, not going to say (yet) if it any good or not. I’m more interested in how much did YOU pay for it when you were given the choice?

RadioHead In Rainbows

We paid Sterling 5.50 – Eur 7.95 according to Oanda Currency Convertor. Come on, tell us , how much did you pay for it?

Update: These are the numbers (see the comments below). I’ll update the graph as more people leave comments. I’m interested in this , not from the music point of view (it’s a good , but not great album). It’s more I’m looking to price my next mad-take-over-the-world idea. How do you put a value on something that (a) doesn’t physically exist and (b) will have wildly different values for different people?


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OpenLaszlo – Cool Flash for Clunky Java people

Flash is created by cool people who wear black and use Apple Macs. If you’re not sure as to what flash is, the chances are that if you’ve seen something on the web recently that made you go ‘wow’ for it’s coolness, then it was built using Adobe Flash.

To add substance to this froth Java people can use Flash (instead of normal web pages) to create cool pages that do useful stuff. For example Google Analytics uses Java and Flash to create a stunning User Interface. Even though Ajax and DHTML give you a lot of interactivity on your web pages, Flash goes one better at the small cost of not being as good for SEO and requiring a plugin (that most people already have installed).

So, what are you to do if you want to combine the coolness of Flash with the heavy lifting of Enterprise Java on the Server? The two main options are:

  1. Flex from Adobe is one way for Java people to create flash. The core toolkit is free, but the editor costs about $500 and that’s before you pay for using it on your servers. More details in the previous blogposts on Adobe Apollo and Adobe Flex.
  2. Open Laszlo Project is open source all the way, but does’t have a drag and drop editor (i.e. it’s more technical than graphical). Still , it allows you to create some cool effects , such as this Flash Clock.

Which framework will win out? I don’t know , and that’s before you even consider the Standard Java Web Frameworks such as Struts 2.

More (In progess) notes on Open Java and Flash are on the wiki. In an impulse buy , I bought the OpenLaszlo in Action yesterday. As an EBook , with rebate (coupon LZ35607 before the end of August) it costs about 10 Euro. Initial impressions are good (both for the book and Open Laszlo) , but I’m still working my way through it (so don’t quote me on it).

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Disclaimer: I get a rebate if you buy the book from Amazon, but not if you buy the (Cheaper) E-Book direct from Manning. I bought the E-Book this time, but have got free books from Manning in the past for having reviewed (as yet unpublished) JBoss items.

The last Rails For All mail you will ever get, maybe

Most websites do one thing : grab information from the user, and store it in a database.

For these simple websites , using Enterprise Java is like using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut – you’re much better off using a solution like Ruby on Rails. Off course, once you go off the usual path (e.g. to implement complex business rules and workflow) things become a lot more difficult. That’s how we make a living – a post for another day.

So, if you’re a business person looking for a web site ‘that has to be done by the end of the week‘ or a technologist looking to solve the pain of ‘I can’t believe building web sites is still so difficult‘, then it’s worth checking out Ruby on Rails.

Rails for all inon

A good place to start is Rails for All, which has recently moved home to Google Groups, and. The official announcement is below.

Rails For All – No more RFA email Hello everybody, This may be the last email you will get from Rails For All. You loved our email updates you say? Well, we have created two Google groups for your reading pleasure – one for discussions and one for announcements. Good stuff. Tell all your friends.

See you there!


Robert Dempsey

Founder Rails For All, Inc.


Promoting Ruby on Rails to the developer and business communities

More posts on Ruby

Barcamp Presentation Summary – Enterprise Web 2.0

A quick summary of the Barcamp talk on Enterprise Web 2

Until now, innovation has stopped at the corporate firewall, with most of the Web 2 activity taking place in the personal and consumer space. With blogs (slowly) coming to the attention of the business mainstream, what is next to be taken up? Why should large companies bother? How will they implement it, or is Enterprise Web 2 just a fancy name for stuff they are doing anyway? More importantly, will anybody make a living out of it?

Any thoughts / comments / suggestions on what people what like to see?

Barcamp Dublin Logo

Yahoo Pipes – could do better

I’ve been playing with Yahoo’s latest toy – see Yahoo Pipes in 10 easy steps.

It’s a very good example of a Web 2 tool. While it is still in beta it already allows you to combine / filter / clone and edit RSS streams. (RSS = a summary of a website, offered by many sites, including this one – just look for the orange logo). In the same way that SQL queries a database, Pipes allows you to query Websites (or to be more precise RSS streams) for the information that you want.

Yahoo Pipes is worth checking out for the following reasons:

  • The user interface (finally) puts Gmail to shame. Just how do they generate the dynamic / curvy pipes linking the boxes?
  • It’s completely graphic. Users with at a ‘power user of Excel’ level can generate streams that would previously have taken an experienced programmer a number of days.
  • It’s another piece on the Web2 infrastructure. All other desktop apps have migrated to the web. It was just a matter of time before developer tools did as well. Does it make sense for you? Your call.

Yahoo Pipes Logo
Pipes, for the reasons below, is not yet going to displace teams of Java people who do nothing but code RSS streams all day. Before, the choice on many IT projects was Build , Buy or use Open Source (or various combinations of those three). Online Web 2 apps and services (of which pipes is only one example) gives a fourth option to put into the mix. So what does Yahoo pipes need to overcome the ‘toy’ label and become a ‘serious’ option for IT projects?

  • The problem is, it’s free. How do Yahoo intend making money out of Pipes? More accurately , will they make enough money so that my project can still use it in 3 years time.
  • You’re stuck with Yahoo. If you build against pipes, you’re stuck with them. Even in the database world, it is possible, if expensive, to switch product supplier. I’d love Yahoo to open source pipes to solve this dilemma, and allow them to build a business around the ‘pipes hosting’ part.
  • It’s completely graphic. This is mainly a good thing but no doubt most developers would still like the option to see and edit the generated code.
  • It’s hard to extend. If there is a way of extending it with my own ‘widgets’ , then I missed it. I can host RSS-generating code on my own server, but this detracts from pipes overall ease of use.

What do you think – will Yahoo Pipes take off , or be quietly abandonded?

Yahoo Pipes in 10 Easy Steps – sample for Iona Dublin

Yahoo Pipes allows you to take RSS Feeds (Website summaries) and combine , filter, sort and otherwise manipulate them according to what you need. This sample shows you how to do this, based on several feeds from the Iona website. The feeds we are going to combine are:

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed IONA Information, News and Events
Keep on top of the latest IONA news, events, class schedules and more

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed Debbie Moynihan’s blog
Open thoughts about open source, open standards, and lots of other random stuff.

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed Eric Newcomer’s blog
SOA, Software Standardization, Web Services, and Transactions

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed Oisín Hurley’s Weblog
SOA, Eclipse Tools, Open Source and SCA

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed Publicly Speaking
Rob Morton’s Weblog

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed IP Babble
William Henry’s Weblog

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed SOS
Services in OpenSource

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed Essence is Real
Kiyoshi Egawa’s Weblog

If you want to see the end result (all the Iona Dublin Feeds in one place), click here.
Disclaimer: I have no connection to Iona, but I do want to read all their Bloggers feeds in one place.

Yahoo Pipes in 10 Easy Steps.

1. Open your web browser and Login to Yahoo Pipes at You can use a standard Yahoo ID (e.g. from Flickr, or Yahoo IM)

2. Click ‘My Pipes’ on the top left of the page . You should see the following screen
yahoo pipes picture 1

3. Click on ‘Create a New Pipe’. It should be in the middle of the screen towards the top. You should now see something like the following
yahoo pipes picture 2

4. At the top left of the screen is a blue menu option ‘Sources’ , with a couple of different places we can pull information from (e.g. The results of a Yahoo Seach, A Google Base Search, Flickr Photographs). The one we’re interested in is ‘Fetch’ , which can pull information from any Web Address (url).

Drag and drop the ‘Fetch’ box into the ‘grid’ area on the right. The main part of your screen should look something like the following:
yahoo pipes picture 3

5. Now we will add the Web Addresses (URL’s) that we want to pull the information from. We’ll get these from this page on Iona’s web site. Luckily, the blogs / web pages we want to combine also come in the RSS format (the orange buttons on this page). All blogs and many web pages have this ‘RSS’ option, and it makes it easier to combine the information in pipes.

To find the URl, we right-click on the orange button on the IONA site, and select ‘Copy Link Location’.

6. Back in Pipes Again , we paste this RSS link into the ‘url’ field on the Fetch box. We also click the ‘+’ sign at the top left of the box, so that pipe gives us the option to enter a 2nd URL. Our Fetch box now looks like this:

yahoo pipes picture 4.

7. We repeat step 6, and copy the 8 other RSS feeds into our fetch box.

8. At the bottom of the Fetch box there should be blue circle. Drag this blue circle and drop onto the ‘Pipe Output’ box. Your screen should now look something like this.
yahoo pipes picture 5.

9. Clicking on ‘Pipe Output’ (grey tab at bottom left of screen) fetches the information that we have just selected. The output from your newly created pipe should be at the bottom of the screen and look something like this :
yahoo pipes picture 6

10. That’s it! We’ve created a Pipe. To allow the world to see your new create, Select ‘Save’ then ‘Publish’ (both grey tabs on the top right of the screen). We’ve published a cleaned up version of the Iona Feed for you to view at:

And the winners of the Feedburner T-Shirts are..

And the winners of the Feedburner T-Shirts (as chosen by our completely automated selection process) are …. at the bottom of this post.

In another shock scandal, Bernie Goldbach got disqualified by following a link from his own blog. He did send the most (25) commenters our way, and since we’re making this up as we go along, if anybody doesn’t take up their prize , I’ll pass one onto him.

Thanks to everybody who took part , and to everybody who posted the message on their blogs! (Bernie , Damian, Phil, Billy Leo and Podcasting Ireland.

Drum Roll please …. The winners are ….

Feedburner logo

What happens next? I have the winners emails , so I will contact them directly to arrange posting the stuff out.

What is Adobe Apollo?

Update: Apollo has since been rename AIR – Adobe Integrated Runtime. Personally, I Preferred the ‘Flex’ name.
What is Adobe Apollo? You know, Adobe , the people that give us the PDF reader.
Is Apollo the new Java for this Decade? Will it replace Atlas and .Net? Is Apollo an answer to problems we have in building web sites that all users can see? Will Apollo replace Ajax , Flash and plain vanilla HTML? Does it play well with Ruby and JRuby?


I don’t know. And neither does the Financial Times Tech Blog. But it does say

Adobe (and incidentally eBay) looks like it has a winner – if only the company can find a better way to explain what Apollo does.

I do know that Apollo may fix the pain of cross-platform web development. So, I’m over to the Adobe Labs site to find out more. Ajaxian has the demo. Mike Chambers (Adobe product development) has the slides. According to Mike:

Apollo is a cross-operating system runtime that allows developers to leverage their existing web development skills (Flash, Flex, HTML, Ajax) to build and deploy desktop RIA’s.

Translation into plain English:Powerful web pages,easy to build , loads of pretty colours. If it’s delivered as promised

Dear Bruce Eckel : Hybrid Java, Google Web Toolkit and Adobe Flex

Dear Bruce,

First up, thanks for the book. Yes I’m saying thank-you about 8 years too late. ‘Thinking in Java‘ is what got me going in the language and in my mind is one of the best Java books written (sorry Tim). Giving it away free only cemented your reputation as the Bono of the Java world. OK, Bono without the Guitar, the Stetson and with a couple of overloaded constructors thrown in, but a man of stature nonetheless.

Thinking in Java Front Cover

Secondly, I’ll forgive your flirtations with Python, on the basis that I’ve been having an affair myself with JRuby. I now understand the pain that you’ve been having at home, the endless repetitive arguments to get simple things done, and the temptation of a newer, younger, more flexible model.

So , I think you’re onto something here in your blogpost. I can feel the pain, the need to deliver Rich clients to users over the web. I think that Ruby / Google Web Toolkit / Struts 2 / Name your web toolkit has further to go than you may think , but eventually these ‘heroic efforts‘ (nice quote) will run out of steam. On the basis of your recommendation alone I’m willing to look at Adobe Flex, but I’m not sure if this is going to solve all the problems.

Now , a lot of us Java guys don’t like change (and as if you needed proof, just look at the comments on this O’Reilly blogpost on the Google API’s). All the same , we have a problem that gets worse every passing year. 6 Years ago we could have been sure that 90% of web sites were running Internet Explorer 4. Now we’ve got IE, Firefox, Safari (in all their different versions) as well as an explosion of mobile devices. The Windows Vista launch is only going to fragment things further with yet another platform to support.

No one web solution is going to display the same in all of these browsers. We’re not going to get a single solution from Microsoft / Sun / Adobe that everybody from developer to my Granny is going to install. So we’re going to have to take the ‘least bad’ route – something that looks great, but degrades gracefully to standard HTML on less capable devices. Excuse my ignorance, but I don’t know (yet) if Flex does this.

Yes Hybridizing open source Java is the starting point for the solution. Unfortunately we’ve a long way to go yet, and Flex is perhaps only inspiration along the way.

Yours sincerely