Justin James presents news about HTML 5, Google Android, analysis of more than 2,500+ open source projects, WebGUI 7.6, parallelism in .NET, research about Web usability on mobile phones, and much more.
When I started this column a few weeks ago, I thought it would be hard to find newsworthy content on an ongoing basis. Now I find myself drowning in great stuff to pack in here. (I hope I'm not overwhelming you!) I also realized a tendency to focus mostly upon the Microsoft ecosystem of stuff here; this is most likely because I subscribe to a bunch of Microsoft RSS feeds. I'm working to get some good sources so I can feature more content variety.
HTML 5 gets a Working Draft release
The HTML 5 spec was released as a Working Draft on February 12, 2009. This doesn't mean the spec is finished, but it does mean the spec is at the point where authors and implementers can start using it. Oops, too late! The last round of Web browsers already included many of the HTML 5 features, and a number of Web sites use HTML 5 code. A very important auxiliary document is the one that shows the differences between HTML 5 and HTML 4.
Android developers, start your engines!
If you're looking to make money in the mobile market but don't want to bother with the already crowded iTunes market (there are more than 20,000 apps to date), I've got good news for you: Google's Android platform just opened its Android Market. While the Google Android market penetration is significantly smaller than the iPhone's or the iPod Touch's (I don't think I've ever seen a G1 "in the wild" but that could be because T-Mobile is not popular where I live), it's nice not to have to compete with tens of thousands of other applications for attention and "shelf placement."
It's getting harder to make a buck on Apple's App Store
On that note, ZDNet's Andrew Nusca discusses how it is getting harder to make money in the Apple App Store. Over the last week or two, I have heard similar stories all over the place from different angles. A month ago, making money by selling iPhone apps seemed quite possible. Now, a lot of information has come to light that makes me think twice. To put it another way, basing a business plan around selling iPhone apps is looking more and more like playing roulette; a great payoff if you strike, but the odds are stacked against you.
2,500+ open source projects analyzed for code quality and architectural design
Coverity, Inc. published some very cool information: static analysis information on more than 2,500 open source projects. Even cooler are the architectural diagrams showing the exact breakdown of these applications. Coverity also has some rankings (based on defect density) and interesting reports regarding the results. Coverity is working under contract with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to help harden open source software, and this scan is part of that. I find this slightly ironic, since as far as I know, most of the government (if not the entire government) runs on Microsoft Windows. Regardless, the information is very interesting, even if you are not working on the code itself. Heck, it's neat just to see how other people architect their stuff.
Microsoft Research + INRIA = programming geek heaven
Microsoft Research (MSR) has had a joint partnership with INRIA (the MIT of France, more or less) for about two years now. I had no clue. Well, I stumbled across a nice piece that summarizes the results of this partnership. To be frank, the titles alone of most of the articles confuse the heck out of me.
Taking a page from my fellow TechRepublic contributor Jay Garmon, here's a Geek Trivia question for you: What else do MSR and INRIA have in common besides this joint partnership? Give up? The answer is the OCaml language. INRIA develops and maintains OCaml. Okay, but where does MSR fit into this? Glad you asked. MSR's F# is its implementation of OCaml on the .NET platform. In fact, the only reason why I made the connection here is, when I first learned about F# via MSR, I read up on the history of OCaml, and I just happened to remember the INRIA name when I read this article. Knowing all of this, I am wondering just how much pure CS research is secretly influencing the people developing .NET. I see more and more of F# and similar things slipping into C# in particular and .NET in general; I bet that this partnership is a huge driver behind it. Remember, you heard it here first.
Microsoft is working on different ways to express parallelism in .NET
There is a nice post over on MSDN that gives some useful, foundation level information about writing parallelized code; it also provides insight into Microsoft's efforts in .NET 4.0 around it. I've known for a while that message passing architectures were much more efficient than shared memory architectures (as well as being much less prone to data integrity errors), but I had never really seen a decent, simple explanation that didn't confuse me more. This post does a nice job with it, and it helps me to understand why the Parallel Extensions Library has thread safe stack and queue objects but not dictionary and list. Also, Daniel Moth at Microsoft has some nice videos of a presentation on the Parallel Extensions Library that cover a lot of the same ground that I do in my presentation on the topic.
No surprise here: using the Web on phones stinks
Jakob Nielsen offers a scathing evaluation of the usability of the Web from mobile devices. If you're working on a site that you hope folks will look at from their mobile devices, you are probably doing it wrong (he shows a less than 50% success rate). He also reports some upside, not the least of which is that this is "the year that mobile exploded" (hey, I predicted that 2008 would be it) and that in a rapidly changing environment, it is likely that a ton of improvements will be made.
Plainblack releases WebGUI 7.6
A while back, I was hunting for a really good, free CMS. The two best that I found were WebGUI and MODx CMS. At the time, WebGUI was a real headache to maintain on FreeBSD, so I went with MODx CMS, which was much less feature rich, but much easier to live with. Over time, Plainblack has continued to make updates to WebGUI. Looking at the feature list that it sports today, I sort of wish I had stuck with WebGUI. Even better than its feature list is the WRE (which has been around for a while), which removes the issues with installation and maintenance that I experienced. If you're looking for a quality CMS that is easy for the end user to use once you pass the project control to them, WebGUI rocks. It is also a solid platform to build on. You will definitely want to check out version 7.6.
J.JaDisclosure of Justin's industry affiliations: Justin James has a working arrangement with Microsoft to write an article for MSDN Magazine. He also has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Get weekly development tips in your inbox Keep your developer skills sharp by signing up for TechRepublic's free Web Developer newsletter, delivered each Tuesday. Automatically subscribe today!