Mappr Beta!

I found this neat little wapp on the makemagazine rss feed, it’s called Mappr, and it superimposes pictures tagged with a keyword of choice on top of a map of the united states.

It uses other tags to place the images.

For example, i’ve tagged some of my images on flickr, which happen to be tagged with pug, ALSO with the keyword of neworleans. Mappr can then associate ‘neworleans’ with a location on the map. In essence, it’s inferring location from tags, which is neat.

To see it in action, check out this link

Ajax Timeline

  • Late 1998 / Early 1999 – Microsoft releases IE 5.0 with support for XMLHttpRequest
  • Sometime In Between – Oddpost uses XMLHttpRequest to produce a highly functional webmail client
  • February 2005 – Google releases Google Maps to the world demonstrating cross-platform use of XMLHttpRequest (Google also released Google Groups, Google Suggest, and GMail using the technology around this time)
  • February 18, 2005 – Jesse James Garrett writes, “Ajax: A New Approach to Web Applications” on the Adaptive Path website.
  • The world jumps on the bandwagon, seeing how cool Google Maps is, and that it’s not just “google magic” — the name “AJAX” and some simple descriptions of the technology allow lots of people to really grasp what it’s about.
  • Everyone who is doing something like this already starts calling it AJAX, too. (except the google engineers, who apparently just call it “javascript” — how modest, and everyone who still called it “XMLHTTP”)
  • Profit

I’d like to point out that many of the “rich application frameworks” that are out there (many of which are described in my rich application frameworks page) have been at this for a while, working on their technology out of the limelight.

It’s just that several powerful trends have collided, and the naming of the beast has, well, given everyone a focusing point. Naming something like this gives everyone a common frame of reference. Not that “XMLHTTP” wasn’t a good name for the idea, it’s just that, well, it’s not as sexy as AJAX. The naming of the technology, the very prominent use of it in Google Maps, the already-breeding realm of rich application frameworks, well, all of them collided and produced this idea in everyone’s head that Javascript isn’t as bad as we had all thought, and that using “modern” javascript could really produce some highly functional, powerful web applications.

Part of it is that javascript left such a nasty taste in people’s mouths that it was relegated to the, “only use if it you have to” realm. I know that’s where I was, having beat myself over the head with the javascript stick back in the day when Netscape still had >50% marketshare. I think a lot of people are seeing this technology and are realizing that we’ve come a long way since then. Really, for the most part, now you *CAN* have one codepath (for most things), and you don’t have to hack, hack, and more hack your way to getting things working on various browsers. Part of it is that we don’t have to test on Netscape 3.0 anymore, and part of it is that the technology has matured enough to not give everyone headaches.

There’s more to this, for sure, but I think i’m hitting the key points.

Some of this was ‘researched’ at various places around the web, but i found the Wikipedia AJAX article very helpful

Me and Zeldman!

So I was browsing through flickr, and noticed that I had a new contact. Usually, whenever i get a new contact, i check ’em out to see what’s up. Usually, i’ll see that they have some other pug people there. Here’s what I found:

Sure enough, right below me is laserone, from Everybody Loves Riley. What i thought was even cooler was that Jeffrey Zeldman was right next to me. Now, he has nothing to do with this, anyone can just up and add him as a contact, and we’re only next to each other because our flickr id’s start with the letter J.

I still thought it was cool, seeing how I think “Designing with Web Standards” was the last good book i’ve read (although that *WAS* a while ago now. I should read more paper)

Rico and more

Ok, I understand that Sabre used the word ‘Rico’ to mean that they’ve got a framework for ‘rich applications.’ However, whenever i read or hear about rico, i can’t help but think of one of two things.

  1. Tony Soprano — How many times do you hear the mobsters mention the ‘RICO’ laws?
  2. Rico….. Suave!

Now, I think Rico is exactly what the “Rich Web Application” community needs. Not because of what it is, but because of who is behind it. Sabre is a fairly large company, and they’ve been sponsoring Rico, finally releasing it into the wild. It’s nice that toolkits exist, but you really need an all-encompassing package that supports lots of functionality.

It’s hard to develop an application with lots of little pieces. Prototype is nice, but it doesn’t have all the pieces there. Backbase is great, but it’s not open source, and costs some real money. Dojo will be nice, when/if it gets here. I’m not criticizing, they’re new — they just need time to get everything put together.

For something as complicated as a rich web app framework, you really need some financial backing to put enough people on the project to make it worthwhile. Lone developers go so far, but we need more. I think that’s what we’ve got with Rico. Dojo might have it, i’m not sure how many people from Jot work on Dojo, and how much money Jot has / will have to develop with.

Anyway, I think Sabre’s shown some “enlightened self interest” with releasing Rico, and I think that it’s going to take the web app framework community to new, very good, places.

Oh yes — i’ve added Rico, Drag and Drop w/ Prototype, the Javascript Gamelib, and CPAINT to the ajax toolkits list.

Web 3.0? — Rich Web Applications

I’ve added qooxdoo to the list of toolkits, and it got me thinking. With dojo, qooxdoo, all the ajax frameworks out there, etc., we’re really in the infancy of a new breed of web applications.

Yes, google’s got em already, but the average joe doesn’t have the manpower to put all the pieces together himself. These toolkits are still very rough around the edges, and it’s going to take some time and some painful development of applications, some aborted projects, some cross-flow of ideas between projects, but we’ll see the browser be what microsoft feared it would be from the beginning — the browser is going to become the platform.

Why is this happening? We’re at a point now where the tools for web development, your databases and your server side scripting languages / application servers are already written, and they’re pretty good. me, as a developer, I can’t go out and hack together a PHP/FI version 1.0 and have it be of any use to anyone. What I’m saying is that because the tools are there, we’re now able to build tools on top of our tools, to make what we build even better.

I’ll give the Ajax toolkits another 6-9 months before they’re really mature, and the javascript widget-based toolkits, well, my guess is they’ll need at least another 12-18 months before there’s anything that’s highly polished and usable to a wide array of people.

Now, i haven’t actually played with the likes of Backbase, and they might be closer than anyone, I just don’t know. I think a project for tomorrow is to go download the backbase community edition and see what i can do.