Sean McGrath, CTO, Propylon

Sean McGrath's Weblog.

Thursday, June 01, 2006
    Web 2.0 -> Web 2.71828 18284 59045 23536 -> Web E
The term "Web 2.0" appears to be somewhat encumbered from a "Use it whatever way you want, just like 'GUI' or 'Network' or 'Asynchronous Messaging'" perspective.

Adding a digit, say "Web 2.1" (or should that be "Web 2.1rc1?" is an amusing workaround that has been suggested.

Lying in bed last night (Sleepless in Sligo?) and alternative occured to me. Better to pick a rev number that is irrational (in the mathematical sense). In fact, while not go the whole hog and make it non-algebraic too?

The obvious candidates for such transcendental numbers are PI and E...

And E happens to start with "2.". So we have, "2.1", "2.17", "2.171" etc. to infinity and beyond.

This abbreviates nicely to Web E which is naturally pronounced "Webby" which has a nice ring to it.

TeX users will be familiar with the idea of a version number that asymptotically approaches e as this is what is used in METAFONT.

posted by Sean 11:21 PM
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    Jython website gets a facelift
Congrats to Frank Wierzbicki on the new website. Very nice!

posted by Sean 11:06 PM
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    Ubuntu 6.06 (Drake)
Ubuntu 6.06 (Drake) has been released.

Desktop Highlights (excerpted from

  • A new, very fast, graphical installer based on the Live CD
  • Faster system startup and login
  • Simplified menu organization
  • Graphical shutdown process
  • Easy access to power management settings with GNOME Power Manager (Ubuntu)
  • Improved support for video playback
  • Optional NetworkManager for convenient roaming between different wireless and wired networks
  • 2.0.2, 7.0
  • Support for ongoing translation updates throughout the life of this release, for all supported desktop environments

posted by Sean 5:47 AM
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Tuesday, May 30, 2006
    Ubuntu Dapper on the Sun Niagara
Mark Shuttleworth announces the (very dapper) Dapper release of Ubuntu will support the UltraSPARC T1 (aka Niagara) architecture.

If I have the Niagara box long enough, I will certainly give that a try.

Work overflows have limited our investigations of the Niagara box for the last two weeks but we hope to get back to it before the end of this week.

First up will be porting (I hope that will prove too strong a word) Propylon's Jython-based XML processing pipleline engine and component library known as Griddle to the box.

From there, I have hundreds of thousands (literally) of ODF documents I need to process with as low a make-time as I can manage.

posted by Sean 10:45 PM
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    A mini-rant about document XML formats
Question: How many XML formats does the world need for documents?

Answer: N+1 where N is the number of document processing applications with functional differences that require peristent storage.

Why is this?: Because opaque binary file formats for documents (excepting sane non-proprietary binary files like zips etc.) is plain silly these days. Binary file formats Just say 'NO' and all of that.

Because applications differ in their data models whenever they differ in functional differences in their feature sets. This is all good. May a thousand flowers bloom as long as they all can persist their data to disk in an XML notation that I can process without recourse to some vendor-specific API. APIs can be harmful.

So what is the N+1'th document format? The interchange format. A format rich enough to retain as much of a document-centric data model that the N major applications can sign up to but not so much that the N major applications have no room to differentiate themselves.

The N+1'th format must be completely open, vendor neutral and everybody should have a say in how it evolves.

Why bother with all of this? Because the alternative is that one of the N becomes the N+1'th model too. A single application that owns both its own application space and the universal interoperability space for documents.

Not good. That is the world we have come from and we should not go back there.

Does it matter if M (where M < N) of these document models have standards-body-ratified XML schemas? Yes, because standards bodies should be operating in interoperability space, not applicaton space.

If multiple "standards bodies" ratify multiple interop schemas for documents then you have yourself a confusing standards war. Not good. Unfortunately, I fear that is where we are headed :-(

posted by Sean 8:30 AM
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    The Asymmetric Web
    "...Then began an awful period -- which continues to this day, sadly -- of companies developing intranet applications and then concluding, erroneously, that the application can be deployed on the Web by just flicking the proverbial switch..." [The Asymmetric Web]

posted by Sean 3:33 AM
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Monday, May 29, 2006
    ODF In Denmark
From September 1st, Government pubs will be available in ODF.

Hats off to the Danes.

posted by Sean 2:08 AM
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