Wednesday Jul 22, 2009

Nebeans 6.7 and Kenai Integration

I have been following Project Kenai for some time now. Although it a long while since I have written code in anger (or for a living unless you count the occasional hacking and scripting) my constituency with my customer consists largely of developers, technologists and solutions architects and I want to keep abreast of emerging technologies that may interest or affect them. Kenai provides an interesting set of services to support open communities and open development. Hopefully in the future they will extend this functionality to offer private communities to major enterprises. While I am a huge support of Open Source and Open Development I remain unconvinced that all enterprises are ready for open source development or that it is right for them. Given that these development teams share many requirements with open source development projects having large loosely coupled development teams distributed around the planet that need to collaborate closely around a development project.

Anyway I digress from the main purpose of this post.

At JavaOne they demonstrated a then late beta version of Netbeans 6.7 that has since become the production version. One of the new features of this release was integration between NetBeans and Project Kenai. Allowing developers to be able to open their open source projects within the IDE and develop code, track and fix bugs, collaborate and even in the future deploy applications to the cloud. Once again a great example of "the network is the computer".

Again I think that this kind of working methodology applied to distributed (but closed) enterprise development teams could be a very powerful tool. Also consider the current threat from H1N1. Even if your entire development team is co-located in the same office if there is a pandemic and people are stopped from coming into the office with this development model then development can continue without interruption with the team distributed. Worth consideration at least.

Monday Jul 20, 2009

Zembly.com

At JavaOne I attended an interesting session around a new service called Zembly. It is a developer service build on the Sun Cloud and as a beta is available free to developers. They described Zembly as:

  • A browser based, social IDE
  • REST service mashup platform
  • Massively scalable app hosting cloud

Or put another way Development as a Service and Platform as a Service. The development tools themselves are delivered entirely within the browser (I think using AJAX and HTML but they did talk about using JavaFX in the future) and provide click and include access to a large number of REST based web services that are available today on the next. The tools support a number of scripting languages (PHP, Python, JavaScript and Ruby). From the demonstration it looked pretty easy to quickly mash up some quite compelling web applications and then deploy them to the cloud. This means as a developer you can experiment with new web services (development and deployment) without the need to make any investment over and above the laptop and browser that you have today to access the net. At the moment (at least while the service is in beta) it is free to use.

By deploying to the cloud you can start your deployment as small as you want and scale as quickly or as slowly as you want. If your service does not take off you can just turn it off and try another one. This seems to me like the perfect way to stimulate the next wave of web based innovation.


Thursday Jul 09, 2009

Google Notebook

Arrrhhhhh.

Google have decided to discontinue development for google notebook. I first started to realise something was wrong when I upgraded to firefox 3.5 and the plugin for google notebook was disabled (incompatible with this version of firefox). I waited a few days for the update to appear before going to the google notepad page to manually load the update where I found the following and a link to this. To be fair they are continuing to provide the web facing services to all existing users (no new users) but development seems to have stopped on the plugin which was the ONLY way that I ever accessed the service!

Imagine my disappointment. I have always found this an invaluable tool. When researching a particular topic you can grab URLs, add notes to it and arrange them in books around the topics that you are researching. Also since I work across multiple machines at multiple locations (Mecbook Air on the road, Mac Mini at home and Solaris Sun Ray at work) I can install the firefox plugin on all machines and access the same information without the need for remembering to do fiddly syncronisations - after all "the network is the computer".

Anyway unable to face the current and immediate future without the browser plugin access to notebook I decided to take matters into my own hands and fix the problem. Using a method well documented elsewhere on the web I managed to make a version of the plugin that claimed to be compatible with firefox 3.5 in the hope that it would work and so far it has, with no issues. The solution requires some command line skills but should be NO issue for even the most basic UNIX/linux user and easy enough for any windows or mac user that has ever used the command line. The instructions below are for using a bash shell on MAC OS X but will work fine on any UNIX based system (Solaris, Linux or MAC OS X). If you are using windows you will need to find the equivalent windows commands or UPGRADE your OS to Solaris, MAC OS X or Linux.

Take the google-notebook.xpi file and copy it to a clean empty directory then at command line type.

seanh$ unzip google-notebook.xpi

This extracts the various files that make up the plugin. The file that you need to edit is initially read only so you need to make it read/write.

seanh$ chmod u+w install.rdf

Now use your favorite text editor to edit the file install.rdf.

seanh$ vi install.rdf

Locate the following line:-

   <em:maxVersion>3.0.\*</em:maxVersion>

and edit it to read.


   <em:maxVersion>3.\*.\*</em:maxVersion>

Now change the file back to read only.

seanh$ chmod u-w install.rdf

Then delete the original google-notebook.xpi file and create a new one.

seanh$ rm google-notebook.xpi

seanh$ zip -r google-notebook.xpi ./??\*

Now go to firefox addons and uninstall google notepad, restart firefox and install the xpi file that you have created and bingo you are back in business.

I should add at this point that this is NOT supported by google and certainly NOT supported by me. I have tried it and it works on my environment let me know if it works on yours (via the comments). I guess that at some time in the future it will break but I am hopeful that I can get al least as far as version 4 of firefox and beyond before it breaks. Then it will be a case of looking at the code itself (assuming that google have made or make the source available).

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seanharris

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