Monday, November 27, 2006

Rails and Clean URLs

One cool feature about Ruby on Rails is that clean URLs is something that comes natural. Rails uses clean URLs by default. I love this. This is because I have suffered a lot with Drupal trying to make it use clean URLs. I also found it needed some work with PHP trying to make it use clean URLs too.

The W3C web site uses clean URLs in all its web pages. One interesting article in the W3C about clean URLs talks about this. The article though comes under the name Cool URIs.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Game Programming in Egypt!

A repeated dream of many Egyptian programmers, specially students, is to go into game programming. I am talking about 3D games, Doom style, that are action games or adventure games. A group of ambiguous and bright minded Egyptians are developing a 3D game engine and have started a software company in the Smart Village with the name of Khayal. In order to make a demo of their 3D game engine, which they call the physics engine, they have created a game that uses such engine. The game is called Boo7a.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Google AJAX Based Web Site Builder

Google Page Creator is not the first to offer do-it-yourself web site creation. Geocities, now part of Yahoo!, and many others have offered long ago 'easy' means for the pubic to create their own web sites without having to learn HTML or other web technologies. The spin Google has added is to use AJAX instead of low-usability forms or relatively heavy Java applets to enable users to develop their sites. Google again is pushing users towards the web, making the browser as powerful as desktop applications, and is doing so through AJAX.

Perhaps Yahoo! will respond with an AJAX web site builder. Who knows.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Google Boosts AJAX on Java

Google is maintaining its push for AJAX giving Java developers a convenient way to develop web applications with front ends that are almost on par with desktop applications. This move is driving Microsoft crazy because it is making the operating system less important. Take a look at the Google Web Toolkit.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Usability Study

When developing a web site, it's a good idea to keep usability in mind. One can make usability studies in order to find out how to improve the design of his web site, but good usability studies can be expensive. Another good alternative I often resort to is to follow the findings of large companies that have already invested in usability studies. Their findings can be safely assumed to be strong indicators to what a site with good usability should be like.

Have a look at how Google redesigned its Google Base homepage. Google is a big fan of usability.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Symfony is a PHP web framework. Time will show if it will gain the same popularity of the Python framework Django and the Ruby framework Rails.

Help Google Classify Images

You can help Google in classifying images. Your efforts will have a direct impact on the performance of Google Image Search.

The regular Google search indexes and classifies web pages based mainly on their text content. Text is relatively easy to process and 'understand' at least in comparison to images. Images on the other hand are extremely hard to understand automatically by a computer without the help of humans. Image processing and comprehension is still a branch of AI that is under heavy research in academic places and in practice needs a lot of resources. For an online search engine to do the same processing on a astronomical number of diverse images present online this requires an unrealistic amount of resources which is not practical, and even then the system will not be fail proof. The only an online search engine can effectively 'understand' images is through the help of humans. By introducing Google Image Labeler, Google is allowing humans to help it classify images found on the Internet. An interesting thing I just noticed today is that Google asks the permission of webmasters to use images in their web sites as content for the Image Labeler. This feature is part of the Google's Webmaster Tools.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Yahoo! Follows Google

Looks like Yahoo! is starting its own Google Base alternative. Welcome to Yahoo! Time Capsule. Although at first sight they look as if they are completely different things, yet I get the feeling the time capsule is an initial test and seed by Yahoo to develop its own version of Google Base. Time will show us what it will turn up to be. Perhaps it is just some sort of experiment by Yahoo! and a way to let the user community help it categorize content.

The interesting thing is that Yahoo! is following Google in using far fetched mind expanding ideas, by saying the capsule will be opened in year 2020 same way as Google set a far date for reaching its goal of organizing the world's information. Yahoo! selection of topic also reminds us of Google's early lunar jobs ad.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Google Wiki

Google is adding wiki service to its arsenal of web applications. It looks like the wiki will be sooner or later integrated into Google Docs & Spreadsheets. This is really cool, I love wikis. It was my first time to hear about JotSpot which Google has just acquired. I really wish I had tried it before Google acquired it in order to experience the difference in service after Google's acquisition. Anyway, it seems the JotSpot service was not for free (I'm not sure if they had a free edition), so I wouldn't have tried it anyway if I had known about it earlier. I love using free stuff, perhaps that one of the strong reasons I love Google.