December 20, 2006

Debian developers delay over funding

Link: Debian developers delay over funding

Filed under: Technology, Open Source, Programming, Linux, Software by Brian Turner

Computers & Internet

The latest Debian release has reportedly been delayed because volunteer developers are being snubbed over funding.

Debian versions 4 - named Etch - was due to be launched on December 4th. Although already delayed, the Debian files are apparently ready for release - but with no set launch date.

According to Debian release manager, Andreas Barth, a recent experimental funding move has rankled volunteer coders.

Under the funding experiment, called Dunc Tank, key coders would be paid for their time, while other vounteers would receive nothing.

Seventeen coders, led by Joerg Jaspert, previously issued a statement of dissatisfaction, indicating that a the funding had introduced a two-tier system.

This had led to a demoralisation of Debian developers, with the result that many have either already, or are in the process, of moving to other projects.

While Debian has a long history of delayed releases, the loss of key developers raises questions about Debian’s future as a Linux distro.

December 5, 2006

XML developers reject W3C Schemas for Relax NG

Link: XML developers reject W3C Schemas for Relax NG

Filed under: Webmaster, Programming, Software by Brian Turner

Computers & Internet

An argument among XML developers has seen a splinter group reject W3C Schemas for the Relax NG standard.

Main criticisms raised of the W3C schema focus on coding difficulties, and potential interoperability problems.

Proponents of RELAX NG - which stands for REgular LAnguage for XML Next Generation - point out that it is already a recognised ISO Standard: ISO/IEC 19757, Part 2.

Already some developers have already been coding XML in Relax NG, before compiling to W3C Schemas.

Overall, while this may seem like distant debate, the actual coding platform for XML is an important issue.

XML formats - especially RSS and Atom - are becoming an increasingly common part of computing, especially for communications between websites.

And with Microsoft and linux providing increasing support for XML between computing platforms, the debate as to which XML standard is followed could have widespread repurcussions far into the future of modern computing.

However, as pointed out elsewhere, the core issue deciding the matter isn’t which set of schemas developers are happy with - as much as which standard business is going to support.

Open XML support grates on Linux critics

Link: Open XML support grates on Linux critics

Filed under: Microsoft, Open Source, Programming, Linux, Software by Brian Turner

Computers & Internet

Linux users have voiced concerns about Novell’s planned support for Open XML in Open Office.

Since Novell signed an agreement with Microsoft, there has been a general perception that Novell have sold out.

The main accusation from vocal critics is that the agreement simply turns Novell - and their Linux Suse products - into a way in which to funnel open source users into Microsoft’s proprietary systems.

The recent announcement by Novell that they will be releasing a new edition of Open Office - and provide support for Microsoft’s Open XML - has helped amplify these criticisms. This is especially as Microsoft apparently have no plans to support ODF and OOXML in Microsoft Office - even though both are used in Open Office.

However, despite this, other Linux users simply ask what’s so wrong with supporting OpenXML. After all, isn’t cross-platform compatibility to be embraced?

Overall, it shows the high degree of distrust of Microsoft Corp, but it remains to be seen what the advantages of the Novell-Microsoft relationship are by its fruits, rather than disadvantages through speculation.

October 6, 2006

Swear words in program code revealed

Link: Swear words in program code revealed

Filed under: Open Source, Programming, Software by Brian Turner

Computers & Internet

A study using Google Code Search has shown how many times programmers insert expletives into the code of key open source software platforms.

A search was conducted in Python, Perl, PHP, C++, C and C# for common expletives. These are not in the code itself, but instead in comments made around the code for reference purposes.

The results showed that although there were more swear words inserted into the code of the C programming language, when compared to the number of files available per programming language, PHP was found to be top with a 0.6% ratio.

This means that in every PHP program, 0.6% of the source code is likely to be expletives.

The study also found that expletives were much less common in open licenced software, as opposed to licence restricted programming platforms.

The use of the expletives should be of no threat or concern to users of these software platforms.

However, it does make for an interesting Friday afternoon oddity story. :)

March 20, 2005

Giants stand behind open source

Link: Giants stand behind open source

Filed under: Webmaster, Google, Open Source, Programming, Linux, IBM by brian_turner

IBM and Novell are pushing on the development of SUSE linux applications to run on IBM’s eServer platforms.

The companies are seeking closer working ties, in terms of “consulting support and technical expertise” to help them develop applications for SUSE Linux on IBM platforms.

The move is part of a wider push by IBM to move Linux into the forefront of business technology, and has already spent years developing Linux for wider mainstream use.

Linux is an open source operating systemm developed from Unix, and comes in a number of “flavours”, with SUSE Linux being a particular flavour developed by Novell.

Also this week, Google announced the opening of Google Code, which seeks to use programming languages such as C++ visual basic, and Python, for development of internet applications that could benefit the company.

This follows the earlier unveiling by Yahoo! of the Yahoo! Developer Network, which is intended to focus on development of products that utlise Yahoo! Search technology.

March 14, 2005

Microsoft MVP’s call for stay on Visual Basic

Link: Microsoft MVP’s call for stay on Visual Basic

Filed under: Programming by brian_turner

Over 100 Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) developers have signed a petition calling for the company to continue support for Visual Basic.

Microsoft have already announced that after this month, it will no longer offer free incident support and critical updates for Visual Basic 6. Fee-based support will run for another 3 years before VB6 is finally abandoned by the company.

Microsoft has already spend years moving from its BASIC platform to developing its .NET programming platform, and refers to Visual as VB7.

However, critics say that the similarity is only in name, and that the languages are fundamentally incompatible, with program code written in the language of VB6 and earlier versions unable to run on the .NET platform.

Rich Levin of PC Talk Radio has been particularly vociferous in support of the MVA petition, and he explain his position in Microsoft MVPs revolt:

Learning Microsoft BASIC (Atari BASIC, BASICA, GW-BASIC, and later, QuickBasic, Professional Basic, and Visual Basic) made it possible for me to earn a living as a professional programmer and, ultimately, as a technology writer. With a little tweaking, programs written in earlier versions of BASIC seamlessly migrated to newer versions. Nobody did BASIC better than Microsoft.

Now millions of VB developers are language refugees, looking for a new language to call home. This will be to the benefit of language vendors other than Microsoft, which squandered a golden lock on the hearts, minds, and souls of BASIC programmers worldwide–all in the name of something new and allegedly better (read: we need an answer to Java).

It’s not too late or technically difficult for Microsoft to admit its mistake, and resurrect support and advancement of classic Visual Basic. There’s no reason, technical or otherwise, why Visual Basic 6 can’t coexist with Visual Basic .NET, just as Microsoft Visual FoxPro coexists with Access, just as Microsoft Visual C++ coexists with Visual C#, and just as Microsoft’s Macintosh division coexists with the company’s overarching Windows focus.

David Berlind at ZDnet also expresses his disappointment in First VB gets the axe. What’s next COBOL?, by pointing out that COBOL suffers similar criticisms as Microsoft have levelled at VB6, but points out that VB7, with its better web functionality, is the superior platform to focus on:

Perhaps the moral of this story is that you can’t teach a dog new tricks. Particularly these old dogs, who, like my old dog, bite back if you don’t handle them just right.

A summary is also provided in the CNET article Developers slam Microsoft’s Visual Basic plan

One of the main issues keeping VB6 and earlier developers from making the migration to VB.Net is the steepness of the learning curve,” said Albion Butters, Evans Data’s international analyst, in a statement. “The difficulty in moving existing VB6 apps to VB.Net is, in some cases, insurmountable.”

The original petition can be found here: A Petition for the development of unmanaged visual basic and visual basic for applications

March 12, 2005

ABAP: SAP’s programming language enters popularity arena

Link: ABAP: SAP’s programming language enters popularity arena

Filed under: Programming by brian_turner

SPECIAL REPORT: ABAP programming language coming of age with SAP

ABAP originally started out in the 1980’s as a programming language, developed by SAP for its SAP/2 reporting application.

With a syntax resembling COBOL, ABAP was originally called Allgemeiner BerichtsAufbereitungsProzessor, German for “generic report preparation processor”.

However, over the past two decades ABAP has grown into a larger entity. In the 1990s, SAP started to convert all the key functional code in SAP R/3 to ABAP, so that by the year 2001, the SAP project relied on ABAP for all but the most basic of functions.

Now named Advanced Business Application Programming, ABAP has begun to hit the wider programming radar.

According to the TIOBE Programming Community Index - which is based on the world-wide availability of skilled engineers, courses and third party vendors, and intended for making a strategic decisions about what programming language should be adopted when starting to build a new software systems - ABAD is currently one of only 15 programming languages to be currently awarded “A” status.

The high Niobe scoring means that over the following year you can expect to start seeing ABAP become increasingly developed for industrial and mission-critical software systems. Even though it is not yet regarded as a major programming language, ADAP is finally hitting the mainstream radar.

Even though ABAD still has a relatively small development community, as reported in Biggest Jump in the Ranks of the Most Popular Programming Languages, it is the fastest growing programming language of the past year.

And with a focus on production of high-level reports in materials management and financial and management accounting, ABAD has a real niche it can develop in.

Additionally, its development has recently focussed on object orientation to the degree that it is now developing in parallel with the development of Sun Microsystem’s Java, which it now uses as one of its production pillars.

For the time being, ABAD is may seem like just another quirky acronym. However, in the dynamic pistons of IT development, ABAD may yet become a more familiar name over the coming years.

February 25, 2005

IBM powers PHP

Link: IBM powers PHP

Filed under: Webmaster, Open Source, Programming by brian_turner

In a move expected to accelerate the development of PHP, IBM will now be putting its corporate wight behind the open source programming language.

In an statement expected later today, IBM will announce that they’ve teamed up with Zend Technologies to create a bundle called ZendCore, which will support IBM’s Cloudscape database as wel as Zend’s PHP development tools.

PHP - originally short for “Personal Home Page” - has become a favourate web development language because its varying degrees of simplicity mean that even the least-technically savvy people can use PHP features for developing websites - as described in An Introduction to building pages with php include statements.

January 26, 2005

W3C issue XML & SOAP standards guidelines

Link: W3C issue XML & SOAP standards guidelines

Filed under: Web Development, Programming by brian_turner

The W3C consortium, a body that develops internet accessibility standards, has released a new set of standards guidelines for use with XML and SOAP applications.

XML-binary Optimized Packaging (XOP), SOAP Message Transmission Optimization Mechanism (MTOM) and Resource Representation SOAP Header Block (RRSHB) are all designed to help bridge the use and development of binary data with XML.

This is important for addressing issues such as sending a video clip from a mobile device to a desktop PC, as lack of co-ordination between different software packages can make even this apparently simple act slow and difficult to manage.

Although intended as a work around, rather than a full fix, the W3C XML Binary Characterization Working Group is already looking into fully comprehensive ways in which XML and binary data can be better brought together.

January 19, 2005

Critical PHP bug slows dynamic applications

Link: Critical PHP bug slows dynamic applications

Filed under: Web Development, Programming by brian_turner

After the recent security concerns with PHP, upgrades from PHP 4.3.9 to PHP 4.3.10 have left some dynamic applications with serious problems with slowed performance.

In a report at the PHP development community, Bug #31332 unserialize() works terribly slow on huge strings compared to 4.3.9, it is pointed out that this error is critical for many php based systems, such as vBulletin and Drupal.

The issue centers around use of the unserialize() function, which when used on serialized multidimensional arrays, can result in a a slowdown in the application of stored data by as much as a factor of 20.

In layman’s terms: if the software you run is like a pub, and the database the software runs from is like the beer cellar, then the barman now has lead boots.

A workaround is already in beta format, and a public release of the patch is expected soon.

December 20, 2004

W3C: XML Inclusions (XInclude) Version 1.0

Link: W3C: XML Inclusions (XInclude) Version 1.0

Filed under: Web Development, Programming by brian_turner

Today the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published new standards for merging XML documents, with XML Inclusions (XInclude) Version 1.0.

This is intended to deliver a final death blow to Document Type Definition (DTD), a server-based set of instructionsfor interpreting XML documents how their elements interact.

According to the CNet report: XML documents–merge ahead:

[W3C has] since 2001 has recommended the use of XML Schema instead. It has mandated the use of XML Schema in other recommendations such as SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) 1.2 and WSDL (Web Services Description Language).

“XML Schema will ultimately replace DTDs,” Le Hegaret said. “By adding this inclusion mechanism, we will rely less and less on it.”

December 18, 2004

PHP group patches major flaws

Link: PHP group patches major flaws

Filed under: Security, Programming by brian_turner

The PHP group have released two critical updates of PHP, to prevent third-parties taking control of servers running the server programming language.

Version 4.3.10 and 5.0.3 of PHP were released by the software webdevelopers group, and according to CNet in Patches slapped on serious PHP flaws:

Arguably the most critical vulnerability is in a function used to compact data for storage. By exploiting the flaw, an attacker could take control of the Web server that runs a vulnerable version of the PHP: Hypertext Preprocessing (PHP), according to the Hardened-PHP group, which found the flaw.

Apparently, six other less critical security flaws were also identified and are listed here: Hardened-PHP Project - Multiple vulnerabilities within PHP 4/5.