I'm sure the bloggers will be chattering about this one this morning, especially the Ajax-centric blogs. Hats off to Google for another well done Ajax application. Google launched their Powerpoint equivalent in their Docs suite, which is getting closer and closer to providing a viable online replacement, or at least a supplement, to Microsoft Office.
Within a few minutes I was able to create a presentation and view it full screen with no visible difference to running a Powerpoint presentation, other than the nice collaboration feature built into the sidebar. I was then able to publish the presentation to be publicly available on the web - My first Google Presentation Their application seems to have the same type of theme as the rest of their Docs Applications, you're able to upload or email in an existing Powerpoint presentation, you're able to share with other Google docs users and collaborate on the creation of the presentation, you're also able to play the presentation in a collaborative environment. The application seems to be well built and extremely performant.
In addition to the new application, there's word of additional features, the UI for google's docs applications has consistently gotten better and better. I think Google provides a good example to the world of Ajax and Web 2.0 websites, progressive enhancement is definitely the way to go, get a good working and performing application in place first and then move on to enhancing the UI later. I've been very impressed with the quality of the applications Google has developed. I can't wait till Firefox 3 and offline applications, I'd love to see these application converted over to work offline, maybe they'll do something early with Google Gears, watch out Microsoft, it won't take Google 4 years to come out with a new version.
In Boston last week for the Endeca Discovery Conference. Endeca is a fast-growing Boston-based company that produces a search and navigation engine that's being used by several major websites around the world, they're growing by leaps and bounds every year. They have a different spin when it comes to search, they call it "Guided Navigation," it's basically the concept of allowing the user to decide how they find information and guiding them along with attributes of that information displayed at relevant points in time and enabling a user multiple paths to that information while allowing a business to also provide contextual information and merchandising tied to that navigation.
Endeca is in their 5th year and has just released version 5.1.1 of their product, with 64-bit support, key enhancements to their WebStudio suite for business users, many-to-many relationships, and a slew of other improvements to their platform. At the conference Endeca also launched a user-community site for developers called Eden, http://eden.endeca.com. The developer site is just a shell at this point, with paragraphs describing solutions, but no real solutions. The site has potential and probably just needs time to grow, at this point it's a little frustrating, offering the hope of information with a lot of dead ends. Endeca also hinted at the conference at the future release of an Ajax framework called UICL, providing a Web 2.0 integration point with their navigation engine.
All in all it was great to be in Boston for a few days, the weather was beautiful and the sites were fantastic, however the content of the conference could have been compressed into a day, since the same concepts and features were repeated over and over.
We're still here, just been too busy to blog, it's been a month, but we've done a lot.
First and foremost we found a new host and at a great price. We opted for a VPS at JTLNet, for $19.95/mo. we get 15GB of disk space, 256MB of guaranteed memory, 200GB of bandwidth and the ability to install any software we want. We wouldn't recommend this setup to anyone that doesn't know what they're doing, but it's a great alternative to a dedicated server. The guys at JTLNet are top notch, many a night we've opened support tickets at 1 a.m. because we hit one roadblock or another and they're there and on top of the issue within an hour.
Having the freedom to pick your own software and not be bound to what your host is running is a beautiful, yet time consuming, thing. I've swapped out the Apache web server for Lighttpd (Lighty) 1.5, the mod_decompress module in Lighty has reduced our page sizes by 85%. For those that don't know, Lighty is a lightweight web server that serves up PHP via FastCGI faster than Apache using mod_php, it's still in Beta but so far it seems stable enough and pretty quick. We upgraded our PHP version to 5.1.2 and MySQL to 5.27 to gain any performance improvements the newer versions are bound to have. Last but not least we migrated to WordPress 2.2 and added some Ajax goodness to the site, notice as you click around we're no longer refreshing the entire page, but just the post content.
All in all things are running smoothly now, not to say we didn't hit several hurdles upgrading and migrating to a new server and platform. We'll be sharing the details of the upgrades and our troubles in our upcoming posts.
I came across http://getahead.org and their AJAX framework, DWR, and found they had exactly what I needed and at the right price again, free.
Now down to the business of the article. The purpose here is to give some sample source that I worked through in following the directions on GetAhead's website. I had some issues following their directions and figured others might too, some things didn't seem to be working in their examples.
Source for this article is available here: testDWRContactForm.war
Step 1 - Download DWR and add it to your project lib directory
- Download dwr.jar
Step 2 - Add the configuration to load DWR to your web.xml
dwr-invoker DWR Servlet org.directwebremoting.servlet.DwrServlet debug true dwr-invoker /dwr/*