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Backpack, Google Accelerator, HTTP

6 maggio 2005

As often happens, Sam Ruby saved me from wasting too much time idly browsing the web (no energy to work on more important stuff on Friday night) with his latest post: This Stuff Matters. Sam links to a post by Robert Sayre on the Google Accelerator / Backpack mess (If you’re going to do RPC, have the courtesy to tunnel it through POST), which in turn links to Ajax Considered Harmful, which links to the “Just” use HTTP presentation Sam gave at ETCON 2005.

If you do web development (or any kind of development since you can’t escape HTTP nowadays) and have not seen it, take a half hour to do so. It’s full of great advice and interesting facts, a few of which you may be familiar with, while others will be a surprise. The four-sentence summary is:

  • Comparing characters and uris is surprisingly more difficult and important than you might otherwise imagine (think: security holes)
  • Layering is the problem, not the solution
  • You won’t find reality in any specification
  • Spec authors are responsible for the confusion that they create

There’s always a subtle and evil sense of satisfaction in watching the successful ones take a beating for programming or architectural errors you would not make. Of course, working harder and being in their place would be much more rewarding. :)

Sparklines, wow

29 aprile 2005

I only learned about sparklines today thanks to a post by Sam Ruby, where he mentions the Ruby (as in “ruby the programming language”) library RedHanded. Sparklines are a concept by Edward Tufte, which he describes as “wordlike graphics, with an intensity of visual distinctions comparable to words and letters”.

Sparklines are more easily understood by example, as this simple graph of daily page views for this site or this one visualizing the same data with a different notation . If you cannot see the two examples, you should get yourself a better browser as the preferred way of embedding sparklines in HTML is by using RFC 2397 “data: URIs”, which IE does not support.

If you’re interested in creating sparklines, there are quite a few tools already available: the Ruby library Sam wrote about, a PIL-based Python script (the one I used to create the above examples) or a matplotlib-based one, and a PHP library. If I ever find the time, I’d like to add sparklines to the “about” section of my posts.