Home means the Beginning; End means the End

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

While Mac programs usually have very consistent user interfaces, and most programmers religiously adhere to Apple’s human interface guidelines, there is one persistent glitch that continues to annoy us: the behavior of the Home and End keys. On a Mac, these keys should always, always, always move the cursor to the beginning and end of the document respectively.

OpenLaszlo vs. GWT

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Last night I went to the New York City Java User’s Group to hear about AJAX toolkits, more specifically OpenLaszlo and GWT, both presented by their respective developers. It was an excellent idea to do these two talks on the same night since it made it really easy to compare and contrast the two approaches.

I came away with a definite preference for GWT, though it’s hard to tell if that’s because of the toolkits themselves or just because of my preference for the speakers. The OpenLaszlo presentation was classic PowerPoint bullets read off the screen, along with some reasonably cool demos. The GWT presentation was done completely in Eclipse with smaller, less impressive demos. The first GWT sample code was Hello World, as it should be, so I really felt like I could see how to get this working and understand how to use it. The OpenLaszlo sample code was too complex to follow just by glancing at the screen, though likely it did something more.

Why VRML Failed and What That Means for OpenOffice

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Why was VRML an also-ran in the flood of new technologies introduced in the 1990s? It wasn’t fundamentally broken or a bad idea. It wasn’t worse than other technologies of the day like Java 1.0 and Shockwave. It certainly didn’t suffer from a lack of hype, investment, or development resources compared to the winners. VRML fail for one reason and one reason only: it didn’t run on the Mac; and OpenOffice is failing now for the same reason.

JavaOne Hotels

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Recently I asked for advice about hotels for JavaOne, or really any conference held at the Moscone Center. Surprisingly although over the last ten years I’ve become intimately familiar with Silicon Valley and can tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the San Jose or Santa Clara convention centers and surrounding areas, I haven’t been to any shows at the Moscone Center for almost ten years. In fact, I think the last one would have been Software Development 99 West just before that show moved south to San Jose. For that trip I stayed at the Phoenix Inn, which is a reasonably cheap, clean, and funky hotel in the Tenderloin district. It was nice enough, if you didn’t mind a bit of a hike or a bus ride to the convention center in the morning. However, I thought JavaOne might be a little more intense so I decided I’d like to stay somewhere closer, and asked for advice. Here’s what I found out.

Type Inference: Another Bad Idea for Java 7

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Peter von der Ahé and a few others are pushing type inference in Java 7. The goal is to not have to explicitly declare local variable types. Remi Forax offers this example:

  // print a frequency table of words
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    map := new HashMap<String, Integer>();
    for(word : args) {
      freq := map.get(word);
      map.put(word, (freq==null) ? 1 : freq+1);