These are my links for November 19th through December 2nd:
It seems to be the wrong time to be reading such things, but over on InfoQ there’s a nice article introducing web development of RESTful services using Erlang and the Yaws high performance web server.
I say “the wrong time” as this week has kicked off the “Advancing with Rails” course by David A. Black of Ruby Power and Light fame. The course is fairly advanced in terms of required rails knowledge so it’s a bit of a baptism by fire for me and a few others having never written any Ruby before.
Rails is proving moderately easy to pick up but as I’ve remarked to a couple of people, it doesn’t seem any easier coding with Rails than with Perl. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never done it before but I reckon it’s a lot harder spending my time figuring out what the heck DHH meant something to do than it is doing it myself.
Even though it’s nowhere near as mature, I do reckon my ClearPress framework has a lot going for it – it’s pretty feature-complete in terms of ORM, views and templating ( TT2 ). It has similar convention over configuration features meaning it’s not designed for plugging in other alternative layers but it is absolutely possible to do (and I suspect without as much effort as is required in Rails). I still need to iron out some wrinkles in the autogenerated code from the application builder and provide some default authorisation and authentication mechanisms, some of which may come in the next release. But in the meantime it’s easy to add these features, which is exactly what we’ve done for the new sequencing run tracking app, NPG to tie it to the WTSI website single sign on (MySQL and LDAP under the hood).
Caught Matt’s talk this morning at the weekly informatics group meetings
There were general murmurings of agreement amongst the audience but nobody asking the probing questions I’d hope for as a measure of interestedness.
Matt touched upon microformats in all but name – I was really expecting a sell of http://bioformats.org/ , websites as APIs and RESTful web services in particular.
Whilst I’m inclined to agree that standardised, discoverable, reusable web services are largely the way forward (especially as it keeps me in work) I’m not wholly convinced they remove the problems associated with, for example, database connections, database-engine specific SQL, hostnames, ports, accounts etc.
My feeling is that all the problems associated with keeping track of your database credentials are replaced by a different set of problems, albeit more standardised in terms of network protocols in HTTP and REST/CRUD. We now run the risk that what’s fixed in terms of network protocols is pushed higher up the stack and manifests as myriad web services, all different. All these new websites and services use different XML structures and different URL schemes. The XML structures are analogous to database table schema and the URL schemes akin to table or object names.
At least these entities are now discoverable by the end user/developer simply by using the web application – and there’s the big win – transparency and discoverability. There’s also the whole microformat affair – once these really start to take off there’ll be all sorts of arguments about what goes into them, especially in domains like Bio and Chem, not covered by core formats like hCard. But that’s something for another day.
More over at Green Is Good