Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Spell check for text inputs in Firefox

For those who always type but not write, typing text without spell checking is really painful. Most editors support spell checking. Some web applications like Gmail also support that. There are lots of text input areas on web pages needing this feature. For Firefox, you can use SpellBound. The old versions of SpellBound can be found at You can read this post at MozillaZine for the development version for Firefox 1.5.0. For IE, you may look at ieSpell.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More debates coming about REST and WS

In a talk between Mark Baker and Stefan Tilkov published on InfoQ titled "Give it a REST: Mark Baker on Web Services", Mark Baker says that

Web services build upon HTTP, but they don't build upon the Web. The Web uses HTTP as an application contract which enables the loosely coupled exchange of documents between applications, while Web services uses HTTP as a bit pipe - as a transport protocol. Doing the latter instead of former means that you're starting from scratch, and not taking advantage of the existing network effects in the Web.

This is new for me about the difference between the web and another "web" in web services. I consider the web to be a space of information, and the end applications of web so far are agents(web browsers) with humans behind them. So how about the space of services? I imagine most agents(services) in that space are autonomous, and they are not directly controlled by the human users. In the case that most current services, e.g.,, are targeting human customers, there is no big difference between the space of information and the space of services. However, I suspect that there will be in the future.

I agree with his point that SOAP is essentially a generic XML envelope. However, I cannot see what to replace the roles of WSDL and UDDI for service description and discovery. My opinions have a root in the study of agent-based software systems.

His suggestion about starting REST is

It's technically possible, but from what I've seen of Web services toolkits (even those that claim to "support REST"), there's a very good chance that it'll be more trouble than it's worth. My advice would be to start with mature client and server Web frameworks in your language of choice, and to read up on what others are doing with REST/POX/XML-HTTP style services as replacements for traditional "Web services". Then apply that to the simplest possible problem you have, and once you've conquered that, move on to more complex problems.

Again, the assumption of this method is that services are just part of the web.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The so-called "computer revolution" and "information revolution"

Alan Kay, the recipient of 2003 Turing Award for his contributions to object-oriented programming languages and personal computing, points out that "the computer revolution" has not happened yet :
The printing press was invented in the middle of the 15th century, yet it took 100 years before a book was considered dangerous enough to be banned. 150 years before science was invented, almost 200 years before a new kind of political essay was invented…The commercial computer is now about 50 years old and is still imitating the paper culture… we could claim that the computer revolution hasn’t even started.

Although it may not be a revolution from the current aspect, the computer is changing our life to what we cannot even imagine. Among all the computer-related technology development, the emergence of Internet is most significant. The use of Email and World Wide Web (WWW, or Web) boosts the popularity of Internet, though they are not the original design goals of Internet. The web has changed so many aspects of human life such as mass media, business, entertainment, science, and politics. It even introduces new elements to languages and cultures.

It is Nick's and Joe's articles that remind me to post part of my recent writing here.

You can watch Alan Kay's keynote at OOPSLA 1997 titled "The Computer Revolution hasn't happend yet."