Archive for December, 2004
Two useful new features in XSLT 2.0 are the unparsed-text() function, and regular expression support. In theory, the two together should mean itâ€™d be relatively easy to extended my citation stylesheets to handle, say, RTF or LaTeX. Just suck in the text document as unparsed-text, run a regular expression to extract the citation and transform them into XML, and then all else is the same as working with DocBook or OpenOffice documents.
Note: I have little interest in doing this myself given everything else I have to do, but it could provide a nice opportunity for others.
A new release of Berkeley DB XML. The big news is XQuery/XPath 2 support (a la eXist). Would be nice if someone got an SRU/CQL interface working for it.
The more I work with the Keynote file format, the more clear it becomes that whoever designed it did not really think much about people like me:
<div paragraph-spacing="2.32"><![CDATA[Here's one paragraph stuck in CDATA.
Here's another; separated by a newline.]]></div>
Sigh … this is just bad design, and it pisses me off when I see this (and a whole slew of other decisions that make it difficult to work with the data) in the file format. If this is the standard to which Apple developers are expected to rise, I guess itâ€™s not surprising that most of the Mac applications that work with XML show similarly poor design choices. In comparison, Microsoftâ€™s schemas are significantly better.
Moreover, I dislike that Apple still seems plagued by the not-invented-here syndrome. They have yet, for example, to join the OASIS OpenDocument effort.
Sorry Apple, but youâ€™re systematically driving me away from OS X applications. Keynote is the latest example; a sluggish, feature-poor application that has not seen a significant update in almost two years. Whereâ€™s the cutting edge web integration? Whereâ€™s SVG?
If you donâ€™t get serious about XML (in other words, XML done right) and about standards, at some point you may drive me away from the platform altogether.
The forthcoming version of Mac OS Xâ€”codednamed Tigerâ€”will have support a new GUI feature called Dashboard. This article from Apple explains it like so:
Widgets are perfect for working with small amounts of data or interacting with other applications, both on your desktop and across the web. And they provide an excellent way to add functionality to an existing application. This means there are many opportunities for developers, whether creating new products, or adding market-differentiating value to an existing one.
I just bought a license for the oXygen XML editor. Iâ€™ve periodically looked at the application over the past couple of years, but have always found one reason or another (performance, bugs, missing features) to look elsewhere.
However, the latest version has pretty much everything I need:
- XSLT 2.0 (and XQuery) editing, transformation and debugging
- rich editing capabilities
- good (and improving) RELAX NG support
The applicationâ€”which, while written in Java, runs nicely on Mac OS Xâ€”is also developed by people who seem committed to producing the best product they can. When I suggested nxml-mode-style block element completion, they whipped together code to implement it in a day or two (due in the next release I understand). You canâ€™t ask for much more than that.
Now, if they would just implement James Clarkâ€™s schema association mechanism, I wouldnâ€™t have anything more to complain about.
A few screenshots:
WebDAV interface to the eXist XML DB
XSLT debugger interface, here showing the values in a variable temporary tree (quite useful).
Here’s a clever idea from Chris Karr to use Ruby in conjunction with Rendezvous to share book lists over the web:
- A user starts up Books. Books starts the Ruby HTTP server and announces the presence of the server via Rendezvous.
- The Ruby HTTP server reads the user’s .books file and builds its internal data structures.
- A user sees that a new web server is present on the network and points their browser to the Ruby HTTP server. The server presents the user with a front-page that links to an index and search page …
Nice! I’m thinking Rendezvous + SRU/CQL could open up a world of possibilities for interoperability. Some of the OOoBib developers have recently been discussing the pros and cons of standardizing virtually all communication among bibliographic components on web services based on SRU/CQL. So, imagine databases accessible as a web service, and both formatting engines (XSLT, for example) and GUI’s taking advantage of that. So, desktop GUI application and standard web interface both access the database in the same way.
Wow, this paper from Wendell Piez on using SVG to go Way Beyond Powerpoint is very intriguing!
This is exactly the kind of thing Apple should have been doing years ago! I can’t tell you how perplexed I am to not see SVG support in Quartz. I should be able to export a Keynote presentation as SVG to the web, and have it perfectly recreated in a browser. No massive 5 MB PDF files or QT stuff; do it in XML.
Alas, I’ve pretty much given up on Keynote. It’s time to move my course content to a simple XML dialect that’s easy to transform to S5, or perhaps SVG.