Book recommendation for parents

Aug 17, 2007

Some of my fellow presenters at the XML Summer School were swapping tales of warring children as we chatted, and I mentioned the book “Siblings Without Rivalry” and promised to blog about it.

But first, you should get (and I really mean get, because you will re-read it again and again) “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and How To Listen So Kids Will Talk”, which is also by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. (Actually, get two copies because you’ll need one to lend to the other adults in your children’s lives.) “How To Talk…” provides the basic parenting skills that “Siblings Without Rivalry” then builds on.

Things that make me scream: RDF "QNames"

Aug 15, 2007

Having avoided RDF like the veritable plague for years, I have been forced to look at it properly for my latest “put RDFa on our web pages” project. So the other day I came across this weirdness surrounding “QNames” in Turtle, SPARQL and RDFa (and so on)…

As we all know, RDF is about making statements about resources, and resources are identified by URI. And the predicates/properties that you use to make statements about resources are also identified by URI. So I can say things like (in Turtle syntax):

     <>] .

and it means that the creator (as defined by Dublin Core) of the page <> is someone whose weblog (as defined by FOAF) is <>.

URL design for searches and queries

Aug 12, 2007

Another fascinating post from Bill de hÓra, this time on URL design for resources:

Let’s take editing some resource, like a document, and let’s look at browsers and HTML forms in particular, which don’t a do a good job of allowing you to cleanly affect resource state. What you would like to do in this suboptimal environment is provide an “edit-uri” of some kind. There are basically 5 options for this; here they are going from most to least desirable

  1. Uniform method. Alter the state by sending a PUT to the document’s URL. The edit-uri is the resource URL. URL format:
  2. Function passing. Allow the document resource to accept a function as an argument. URL format:
  3. Surrogate. Create another resource that will accept edits on behalf of the document. URL format:
  4. CGI/RPC explicit: send a POST to an “edit-document” script passing the id of the document as a argument. URL format:
  5. CGI/RPC stateful: send a POST to an “edit-document” script and fetch the id of the document from server state, or a cookie. URL format:

And she's back

Aug 11, 2007

So first there was the XML Summer School. This year was my sixth, and it was really great to hang out with chums old and new. I love that

  • you get to meet people from all corners of the XML community, even ones you haven’t got the slightest interest in, and learn that they’re human too (even the web services guys)
  • there’s always something to learn; I’ve seen some talks for six years on the trot, others were completely new this year, but they’re all worth attending because the audience, war stories and discussion are always different. Also, because each talk is aimed at newcomers, you get a great overview of topics that you’re not so familiar with, and you can always chat to the speaker later to find out more
  • there are social events laid on every evening that you’re expected to attend, so you’re practically forced to socialise, which is useful for an insecure introvert like me who’d otherwise be sitting in her hotel room getting miserable imagining everyone else having a good time
  • there’s a creche, so despite being inseparable from two small children over the last four years, I’ve still been able to attend without dragging an entourage with me (not that I object to the entourage, just the expense and the dependency)

I left feeling not only invigorated and inspired, but also a part of a fun and friendly community.


Jul 27, 2007

I don’t know anything about Struts 1, but Bill de hÓra’s recent post has got some interesting web-application-design tips. There were two particular bits that spoke to me:

struts-config.xml struts-config tries to capture primarily the flow of application state on the server, by being an awkward representation of a call graph. In doing it misses a key aspect of the web - hypertext. In web architecture, HTML hypertext on the client is the engine of application state, not an XML file on the server.

In other words (I think) in web applications your state in the page you’re on and taking action is about following the links (or submitting the forms) on the page. Your actions (and therefore the transitions between different states) are determined by what links and forms are on the page. But in fact, URLs should be hackable, and transitions unlimited. When you design the application what you really need to think about are the tasks the users want to achieve (and therefore the transitions that they might want to make) rather than the possible state transitions.