Friday Mar 20, 2009

First Olio Release

We have just released the first binary version of Apache Olio for both the PHP and Rails implementation. Both implementations have been tested quite thoroughly now and we think they are robust enough for serious use - especially for performance testing the workloads.

I introduced Olio in a previous post. It is a toolkit that includes a sample web2.0 application implemented in both PHP and Rails that includes a load generator to drive load against the application.

Please visit the Olio site and download the kits. If you find it interesting, I invite you to come join the project.

Saturday Apr 26, 2008

Microformats go mainstream

I talked about Microformats in a post last year on web20expo. It appears that the technology is now going main stream. I attended a workshop on Web2.0 Best Practices
at the Web20 Expo this week in which the speaker, Niall Kennedy
expounded on th advantages of using microformats. He said he's seen a
significant growth in traffic on his site since he started doing so since search engine results show direct links to pages on his site.
 Yahoo is adding microformats to many of their properties. The yahoo event site
already has them. This is exciting since microformats are a bridge to
the semantic web, which we've been talking about for several years now.
However, the talk has never seemed to materialize into anything
concrete. Meanwhile, the web2.0 world has decided to do things their
own way.

A classic example is tagging. While the semantic
folks talk about taxonomies and ontologies, the web guys invented
folksonomies (aka tagging). Tagging has allowed users and sites to
group stuff together, attaching semantic meaning to their data. Tag
clouds have worked fairly well and sites like flickr are extending the
concept by automatically creating even more tags ! The problem with
tags of course is that a word can have several meanings and it's not
easy to figure out which exact interpretation should be used. This
problem is what RDF solves nicely, but more on that later.

are better than tags in the sense that they have a more rigid format
and as such provide better semantics, although not perfect. Let's look
at an example:

<div class="vevent"><br>  <span class="summary">JavaOne Conference</span>: <br>  <span class="description">The premier java conference</span><br>  <p><a class="url"><a href=""></a><br>  <p><abbr class="dtstart" title="2008-05-06">May 6</abbr>-<br>  <abbr class="dtend" title="2008-05-09">9</abbr>,<br> at the <span class="location">Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA</span><br> </div>
which will display as :

JavaOne Conference:
The premier java conference

May 6-
at the Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA

advantage of such a format is that it clearly specifies various
properties associated with the event: summary, description, url, start
and end dates, location etc. However, it can still be ambiguous since
it uses literals for many properites e.g. the location. If someone
specified the location simply as "San Francisco", it could mean any of
27 different San Francisco's.

If we take this formalizing a step further, we reach the world of RDF.
Here every entry is specified as a tuple of the form:
<subject><predicate><object> using URIs to represent
the objects in an unambiguous manner. Without going into the syntactic
details, we could specify a location to be defined in the standard
format of: number, street, city, state, country, zip. This provides an
object with identity, the property that uniquely identifies it.

I'll talk more about RDF and semantic web in another post.

Wednesday Apr 18, 2007

Web2.0 Expo

I attended the Web 2.0 Expo held in San Francisco between April 15-18. Here are some thoughts on some of the things that caught my attention.

 Rich Internet Applications

There was a lot of talk about RIAs, many products ranging from full-blown development environments to languages, language environments etc. Some examples include Apollo (new announcement from Adobe), Django, curl (no - this is not the OSS libcurl), Silverlight (Microsoft's response to Adobe !)
So it seems that the applications are once again moving onto the desktop - after moving from fat client to the web, we have now realized that the web environment really is not rich enough for many applications.

I can't help wondering why no one ever mentions Java applets in this context.  The technology was probably 10 years too early. Perhaps, if Sun had announced Java applets today at the Web 2.0 Expo, it would have passed muster as a RIA development technology. Think about it - Apollo has no threading support and is re-inventing the wheel of the "sandbox" that applets defined. Of course, we would have to tweak applets for today's multi-media apps, but I'll take programming in Java over Javascript any day. But alas, the day of the applet has passed. So let's move on.

RDF vs Microformats

There were several sessions talking about Microformats, the simple data formats that are more human readable. (It's funny how XML was touted as being both human readable and machine readable - today, it seems that microformats have that distinction).  This does seem like cool stuff - Mozilla is working on microformats support in Firefox, which means for example, that you can drag and drop contacts, appointments etc. to your desktop address box and calendar.

There wasn't a whisper about RDF . From the description of microformats, it appears that it is solving the same kinds of problems we expected RDF to solve. Microformats have a leg up on RDF because they work on any browser where as older browsers will barf at RDF. If developers start using microformats (some already have), I suspect RDF will be dead as far as its use in typical web pages (foaf:person vs hCard) and it will remain exclusively in the domain of the semantic web - which may be fine I guess. 


Who can forget the browser wars ? If any ex-Netscape engineer out there reads this, please rejoice.  Everywhere I looked, every demo I saw (including screen-shots in presentations) used Firefox, not IE. With the exploding number of extensions and plug-ins, I really think this time around Firefox will win. It's just a matter of time !


I'm a Senior Staff Engineer in the Performance & Applications Engineering Group (PAE). This blog focuses on tips to build, configure, tune and measure performance of popular open source web applications on Solaris.


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