Tag Archives: Computer Society

It’s a busy week in Ann Arbor!

I’m still trying to finish up my blog from my visit to Microsoft last week (and from the Michigan Celebration of Women in Computing over the weekend), but I wanted to make sure that I mentioned the busy week that we’re having in Ann Arbor this week.

James Ward, Flex evangelist from Adobe, is coming in from Oklahoma City to present Flex both Tuesday night at the Ann Arbor Java User Group (www.aajug.org), at 7:00 (note the earlier time!), and on Wednesday night at the Ann Arbor Computer Society (www.computersociety.org) at 6:00 pm. While James has sent me the same abstract for both nights, he’s said that the Tuesday night event will be more Java-focused and the Wednesday night event will be more about the technology. There’s not much overlap in attendance at the groups but since I’m planning to attend both nights, it will be great to hear something different the second night.

Here’s the abstract:

Sexy Web Apps with Java, Mozilla Tamarin, and Flex

In this session James Ward will do live demonstrations and write code to show how easy it is to build sexy web apps with Java, Mozilla Tamarin, and Flex. The session will cover the programming model, Java Remoting, Pub/Sub messaging & JMS integration, Data Synchronization, Hibernate integration, charting, cinematic experiences, and media integration.

I’ve seen James demo some incredible stuff with Flex. He built a TurboGears widget with Flex at CodeMash. He demo’ed a nice bookshelf photo application there as well (using photos from CodeMash!). And, he showed a demo at the Java Posse Roundup that used transparent pages from an old medical textbook … wow! To be able see the transparent pages turn, and to be able to see through them to the previous page is REALLY cool, and really does give you a flavor for the compelling interfaces that can be built with modern technologies.

We’re really making the best of James’ time while he’s here. In addition to the evening events, Adobe, Microsoft, and SRT Solutions are presenting, “UI Smackdown 2007: Using GWT, Flex, and WPF”. This is a one-day workshop to learn more about all of these toolkits in an open spaces type of environment. We’re going to start off by presenting a quick overview of each, and then the participants will be breaking out into groups of their choosing to work with the various toolkits. The $90 registration fee includes continental breakfast and lunch. There are still a few slots available, so if you still want to sign up, do so right away so that we can make sure that we order enough food!

AACS Meeting Summary

October 4, 2006

Mark Ramm discussed TurboGears at the Ann Arbor Computer Society meeting this week. The crowd was mostly unfamiliar with TurboGears, and most were unaware that it was conjured up and written here in Ann Arbor (well, at least originally … it’s open source, so it’s now getting contributions from all over the world).

Most people know about Ruby on Rails, so he contrasted the frameworks a bit. Basically, Rails is a highly integrated, single piece of software. It uses some naming conventions, and if you follow them, things will just line up and work. But the magic can be a bit disconcerting for some. Features are either provided via Rails, or not available within the framework. That’s the beauty and cost of a single piece of software.

TurboGears doesn’t follow naming conventions. It’s a mega web framework. It combines best of breed tools in Python to support web development. This allows for components to be traded out and replaced with newer, better components, if they become available.

The heart of TurboGears centers around the following components:

SQLObject – an Object Relational Mapper

CherryPy – web server: manages request/response cycle

Kid – templating system, xml-based, guarantees well-formed output

MochiKit (pronounced Mo-chee-kit) – library for Javascript/AJAX, making it easier to write clean javascript

Templates can be made to look really simple by using and extending the master.kid file. Actually, you can have several master.kid files, and use appropriately in different parts of the application.

For deployment, the easiest path is in using CherryPy, proxying with IIS or Apache (using mod_proxy or mod_rewrite). You can also use mod_python, but Mark sees the other options as simpler.

Webfaction has good shared hosting for TurboGears apps. Currently, their control panel only creates 0.8.9 TurboGears apps, but if you ask the webfaction staff will send instructions about installing the newly released 1.0b1 for use with webfaction. They also help to support the TurboGears project.

From a commercial licensing standpoint, there are no hindrances to using TurboGears. It uses the very liberal BSD-style license, which allows you to write applications using TurboGears for commercial use.

Widgets are provided, to reduce work for the developer. Kid produces designer-friendly templates, that can be edited in programs like Dreamweaver without perturbing the python constructs (since Dreamweaver ignores them), but allowing the designer to see placeholders when testing layout without running a web server.

A question from the audience asked Mark to compare with ASP.NET. Basically, he said that you can do anything in ASP.Net that you can do in TurboGears but that you will have to write more code in ASP.NET. Maybe we will see some head-to-head comparisons at CodeMash in January.

Future Directions in TurboGears:

1.SQLAlchemy will replace SQLObject as the default object relational mapper in the future. It does everything that SQLObject does, and more. Needs a bit more work to simplify the definition to match that of SQLObject
2.Genshi will replace Kid as the default templating system. It uses pretty much the same syntax but is about 40% faster.

Documentation options:

1.Mark’s book (Rapid Web Applications with TurboGears) is going to be published in November. Half of the book is now available, on Safari Rough Cuts.
2.The latest issue of Linux Magazine has an article on TurboGears, written by Mark Ramm. It doesn’t appear that it’s available online. Here’s a summary of that article: http://compoundthinking.com/blog/index.php/2006/09/22/turbogears-in-linux-magazine/
3.TurboGears DVD contains screencasts and can be purchased on the TurboGears website.
4.Docs are available on the TurboGears website.

Examples of high traffic sites that run TurboGears:

www.diggdot.us: Combines Digg, slashdot, and de.licio.us into a unified format

www.rpath.com : Linux software appliance company

Next month at AACS: Scott Collins, from the Mozilla project, talking about the design and application of programming languages.