Thursday, June 27, 2002

Fruits of my efforts

Lookee, a screenshot. I thought a desktop blog aggregator would be a nice little project to play with when learning gnome2. It's not ready yet for public consumption, but it's getting there. ATM it handles RSS 0.9x – even that weird "0.94" stuff Dave is generating which most certainly is not documented where his docs tag claims it would be. RSS 1.0 isn't yet supported, polling is done manually for the moment, and the appearance of the document can't yet be customized. All this will be added, hopefully next week. And maybe I'll make the sources available soon too, I just want to polish them a bit before that (-;

Watch this space.

Language choice

I started looking into developing some desktop stuff with Gtk2/GNOME 2 stuff. I've used the libraries before, but only in the 1.x versions. My language of choice, in this case, is Python (I'll have to check the state of the Goo bindings some day now.) Given that, it's funny how much C source code I've ended up reading in the last two days.

Want to use GtkHTML2? Apparently the only documentation is in tests subdirectory of its source tree. GConf? examples/basic-gconf-app.c. The documentation examples for the new (pretty nice) tree/list widget were a bit lacking, too, but at least there was API documentation (which needs some reformatting even more than CLHS, dunno how hard it'll be but I'll probably have to try sooner or later.)

Someone announced a Python GTK+/GNOME Wiki just a few days ago – after this is done, I'm probably going to document some of the surprises and difficulties (with at least some kind of solutions) there.

Meta meta

Old as it appears to be, I only just today came across Metacrap: Putting the torch to seven straw-men of the meta-utopia (thanks to it being in the topic for #python) by Cory Doctorow, also of Boing Boing fame.[1]

Hearing a lot of talk about semantic web (and in in the blogging "community", too,) I agree with Doctorow. Some web people seem to think that getting rid of the font tag makes things suddenly somehow semantic (meaning sweeter, better, cuter and cooler). Other people believe that semantic heaven will come when we embrace customized DTDs, schemas, or whatever is the XMLish buzzword of the day. But inventing fancy tags does not things semantic make, really.

The word semantic implies meaning, and there has to be an agent who understands the meaning the person who inserted the metadata was trying to give to his (non-meta)data. And regardless of how descriptive the tags are and how much there is metadata between them, unless someone has made some pretty radical steps in machine understanding recently, the people hyping the semantic web are going to find themselves in a re-run of the AI Winter if cooler heads won't prevail.

Metadata is useful, but it's unlikely it'll save the world.

[1] Don't TLDs sometime just drive you crazy? This wasn't supposed to point to some design company, the way it did at first.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Veggie zope

So I am (wonder of wonders) starting to get the hang of Zope, even my first little product is almost finished. Zope's documentation isn't all it could be - there seems to be a lot of text written, but it's spread all over and often somewhat out of date (and it's not always easy to figure out how out of date it is.) Making things work isn't everything, though - I'm not quite sure if the stuff I'm doing is good style, which is also something I care about and is far harder to figure out, because it varies from context to context. And there's more to good style than aesthetics - bad style may also mean that it's cumbersome or non-consistent to use.

The next step is trying to understand CMF. The same complaint about documentation applies here, except that there seems to be far less of it. And I keep wondering should I use CMF 1.2 as packaged in Debian, or 1.3 beta. And there's Zope 3 coming soon-ish, too.

Stock phrase #9

As Dan pointed out, my archives were broken, as per Blogger usual. Of course, it was my own screw-up. They should be ok now (fingers crossed).