I just wrote an xslt replace-text function that replaces multiple words in one go. Looking on the internet, this is something that people seem to be searching for but not finding, so maybe this page will become popular.
So, the first part is a Jeni Tennison snippet for replace-text:
Call this with something like:
This is fine until you want to do a number of replaces on the same text, for example 'Jez' for 'Jeremy, 'Bob' for 'Robert', etc. I have this in real-life because I want to replace the name of a month in Dutch for the English spelling. My solution is to tokenise the 'replace' and 'by' strings then descend into the input string recursively:
Call this by providing a list of 'replaces' and 'bys'. For example, I have a date field in Dutch that I want to replace any month for a month in English:
A word of warning, remember that those 'replaces' and 'bys' parameters are strings so they will need apostrophes around them. I got stuck on that one for a short while.
( Jul 28 2009, 03:27:04 PM BST ) Permalink Comments 
BlinkList del.icio.us digg Fark Furl Newsvine reddit Simpy Spurl Yahoo! MyWeb 20090720 Monday July 20, 2009 we (openplaques.org) now have an official Flickr machinetag It's amazing what you can get if you show a bit of interest. Simon Harriyott had spoken with the guys at Flickr about machinetags in connection with our http://openplaques.org/ project and now we have an official Flickr machinetag. Read about it on the Flickr Dev blog.
What this means is that if any photos of plaques are tagged with openplaques:id=243 then we can pull metadata like the geographical position (if it's been placed on a Flickr map) and now a little link back to the openplaques.org site will be displayed.
Here's an example Flickr photo….
Here's a closeup of the machinetag link…
( Jul 20 2009, 12:29:34 PM BST ) Permalink Comments 
BlinkList del.icio.us digg Fark Furl Newsvine reddit Simpy Spurl Yahoo! MyWeb "Communication Technology and Structures in Scrum Driven Projects" thesis I am very proud to have been one of the subjects for Christoph Johann Szczecina's Masters thesis entitled "Communication Technology and Structures in Scrum Driven Projects" which has now been published. Available at http://www.szczecina.org/resources the study looks at the usage of communication and collaborative software in Scrum-driven software development teams. Christoph has a good writing style making his thesis easy to read, so I recommend that you go and have a peruse. A certain other Brighton-based company is also featured, but I won't give away their name unless they want to do it themselves.
Christoph is from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology based in Trondheim. He found me through my various Scrum/Agile photos on Flickr and some blog posts here. Another great example of how the interwebs has brought people closer together.
I agree with the conclusions of the study in that the best Scrum software aids area currently source control, IM, Skype, and Outlook Calendar; also that the usage requirements are dependent on team size and physical (co)location; and that not quite enough documentation and planning is created.
My personal comment to Scrum teams would be that if anything appears to be missing from your output (e.g. doing enough testing, writing enough documentation, publicising your work widely enough) then adapt the process so that it is a natural outcome of your work. In this way it will not feel like a chore. E.g. we found that proper testing was being left until the end of the sprint, risking overrun if something bad was discovered. So, we changed the process so that a Developer marks a story with a square to indicate 'finished coding and written an automated test' in order for another Developer to check that it does indeed work, at which point it can be marked as 'done' and the affect the burndown chart. The results were:
testing was checked as soon as possible because otherwise the burndown chart looked bad mistakes were caught early and could be remedied without adversely affecting the sprint knowledge of new features was shared between Devs tests were written better as Devs knew that one of their peers would be running it testing became a natural part of the process and not a chore to be performed in retrospect ( Jul 20 2009, 09:28:53 AM BST ) Permalink Comments 
BlinkList del.icio.us digg Fark Furl Newsvine reddit Simpy Spurl Yahoo! MyWeb 20090313 Friday March 13, 2009 MSc gps games…and Universities working with business Yesterday afternoon I went up to Sussex University to assist in reviewing Msc students' game design projects. I accompanied Richard Vahrman from Locomatrix as the University had partnered with his company for the project, which was heartening in itself.
Universities Partnering with Local Business I believe that the Universities in Brighton and Hove have so far done a poor job of working with local New Media companies. They have the classic 'science park' approach where low-cost offices are offered as an incubator. However, Sussex Uni is a bit too far out of town for this action to make this a bridge between business (town) and University (campus). Some of the companies there seem to have been round for quite a while (which in itself does indicate some success), so it's 'incubator' credentials may be questionable.
An Example of Where It Works This project was a great example of how it can work and work well. The students were tasked with designing a game based around the Locomatrix, a gps game platform built by Future Platforms for a Brighton-based business. They could build simple prototypes, but the focus was on designing a game rather than building it. I was very impressed by the projects and a large number of them had thought of an original angle. Hilights for me were:
A Pokemon-style trading game - which introduced an offline element and collectability to gameplay A map-based territory capture game The presentation video for the territory capture game which synched with a physical handset to demonstrate the UI The cattle stampede game Global Pong (the game, not the smell) Next Steps Some of the games are being developed further and I may be involved with prototyping them on the Locomatrix Platform. Also, we have 'Bogfest', a Real-Life Gaming event coming up as part of the Brighton Festival Fringe, where we could play some of the games as a simulation to see how they play out.
( Mar 13 2009, 12:02:58 PM GMT ) Permalink Comments 
BlinkList del.icio.us digg Fark Furl Newsvine reddit Simpy Spurl Yahoo! MyWeb "The Best Software Writing 1 - Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky" I've finished reading "The Best Software Writing 1 - Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky" and firmly believe that it should be on every Developer's bookshelf. Hilights for me were:
An end to the 'style wars' Google Search UI as designed by Micrsoft An EA Widow's exposure of dodgy working practices What makes a 'Great Hacker' How Starbucks serves coffee in an asynchronous manner Agile team compensation Clay Shirky's writings on why 'A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy' About Edward R. Tufte's essay "The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint" and how it forces linear/hierarchical thinking The cartoon foxes from the Poignant Guide to Ruby It also made me think about…
Unlimited Book Budget Something that I have believed in for a long time is that companies should encourage Developers to buy and read as many textbooks as they like. Compared to sending someone on a training course the cost is minimal, but the benefits are huge. Most Devs that I know are bored by courses which regurgitate a manual at them, don't like the structure of taught courses (run or attend an All Day Coding Dojos instead!), and feel that it is a waste of money. I might attend a course about something really new, like grails, if it were provided by someone very well connected with the project.
Also, don't limit yourself to books from the Computing section. There are loads of books about how people think, react to the outside world, can be influenced, and got to be here, that could give vital insight into the human condition.
The Computing Section in Brighton and Hove Library I love the new library, but the Computing Section suxxors. There are loads of old books on Powerpoint v1, Access 2, etc. which make it look like they've raided a second-hand book store or a jumble sale. I realise that language textbooks go out of date fairly quickly, but there a lots of books that don't…like "The Best Software Writing 1 - Selected and Introduced by Joel Spolsky". I think that i'm going to put an Amazon list together and ask the BNM list for their recommendations too. I'd love to be able to approach the library and give them a list of relevant titles to buy, or maybe the Brighton New Media industry could sponsor a title each?
I was thinking about how I might show the booklist on this blog and thought about an interactive bookshelf…which looking back in time was actually my very first web page back in 1992 for an Intranet that I built…now, i'm sure that i've got a CD of it somewhere…
How about you dear reader? Do you have any recommendations for books that any proud Dev should have access to?
( Mar 13 2009, 11:47:20 AM GMT ) Permalink Comments 
BlinkList del.icio.us digg Fark Furl Newsvine reddit Simpy Spurl Yahoo! MyWeb 20090306 Friday March 06, 2009 What is Semiotics? and why do I care? I've just read 'Introducing Semiotics', a rather nicely formatted book in the 'Introducing…' philosophy series. Now, that might strike you as a strange thing for a Developer to be reading, but far from it. A Developer's job is all (often?) about Human Computer Interaction so I feel that it is vitally important to understand as much about what makes people tick, and about communication. Semiotics is about both of those things
So, first off, i'm not telling you to go out and buy a philosophy textbook. I found this book in the library, so it was 'free'. It is also styled in a graphical novel style that makes it all a lot easier to digest.
What I learnt was:
Semiotics is about how ideas are communicated from one person's head to anothers in the form of language or symbols How this language is interpreted is based on the habits and assumptions that you have learnt over the years What you interpret as the world around you is not the world itself, only your interpretation. You might be wrong, or it might not even exist (Baudrillard, The Matrix, et al) An interpretation could lead to another symbol, which leads to another interpretation, and so on forever…or until a final meaning is ascertained. There is a lot of this going on in advertising and the cinema (Barthes) I am a hack. A lot of the subject went right over my head Two schools of thought grew up almost seperately in the US and in Europe I had heard a lot of the names involved before, but had never actually read anything by or about them: Barthes, Baudrillard, Derrida, Eco, Lacan ( Mar 06 2009, 12:49:16 PM GMT ) Permalink Comments 
BlinkList del.icio.us digg Fark Furl Newsvine reddit Simpy Spurl Yahoo! MyWeb 20090225 Wednesday February 25, 2009 There is more to Tagging than meets the eye Today, I read "Tagging: People-Powered Metadata for the Social Web" by Gene Smith. I have to admit that before I read it I thought that I knew all that could be known about tags, which is not-a-lot, but I found that I was wrong. At 202 pages it might look to be a bit pricey, but it contains a detailed discussion of a single Social Web feature. If you really want to be advising people to use a particular feature or if you want to be adding it yourself then it is worth knowing the details.
My plan is to work on the Grails acts-as-taggable plugin to add particular features. These being:
Tag Service Retrieve more complicated data about tags via a Service rather than direct form domain objects
Personal tags To give users the opportunity to look at their own personal tags we need to store each users taggings and be able to return tags filtered by User
Public/Private tags The ability to mark specific tags as private so that nobody else can access them
Generating test data Tags will often follow a power-law curve (i.e. a very few tags will be used a large number of times and it will rapidly tail off so that a large number of tags are each used a few times). It would be great to use something like db-monster to pump in as much test data as we like.
Tags Dashboard A visual represention of various metrics such as tags per time period, unique tags created this period, popular tags today/yesterday/this week/month/period
Synonym Rings and Authority Files Define where words have an equivalent meaning, or in the case of Authority files define which is the preferred term.
Facets This is where tags are grouped into specific areas, which is probably a very thin line between being a tag and being a domain object attribute. It appears that the difference is that attributes are a fixed set of responses where tags are user variable, but i'm not 100% convinced that attributes have to come from a fixed set of responses. The main advantage I can see is that are treated as normal tags, e.g. they appear in tag clouds. Some thought needs to go into how to implement this one.
Clusters By seeing how many tags co-occur for a particular set of resources, then calculating the probability of tags occurring together we can group the high-probability terms together in clusters. This is implemented well in Flickr.
Tag Clouds The plugin could provide at minimum the data to construct a tag cloud, but maybe also output the appropriate html snippet.
Linear Scaled Tag Clouds As the distribution of tags is frequently a power-law curve the tag cloud produced won't be aesthetically pleasing as most words will be small and a few will be large. By scaling the counts returned logarithmically to produce a linear scaling the words will be more evenly distributed between sizes.
Time Periods By returning tags and counts for a time period it is possible to show hot topics. It also means that the favourite tags can be knocked off their perch. One thing about showing uses existing tags is that it may well encourage consensus. To me, this means neatness as well as the possibility of mediocrity.
Machine Tags The structure of namespace:key=value has been well used in Flickr, Upcoming and the like. It makes my happy and upset at the same time. whilst it displays emergent functionality, where users create their own features, I also see the major database antipattern "column stuffing" at work. It would be great to implement machine tags in a similar way to facets: they should appear to be tags, but are stored as attributes.
Bulk Updates Where bulk changes need to be applied they can be put into a queued operation.
Feeds For Everything One of the big wins from tagging is that of useful data feeds. Grails is great at this anyway, as generally a feed is just a view