Archive for October, 2007


Security Education Conference – Toronto, Nov 2007

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Security expert Eldon Sprickerhoff of eSentire whispers to me from the shadows that Toronto will be the scene for a major conference on security in November.

SecTor has a stunning lineup of speakers from the cream of the security community – representing hackers, law enforcement, vendors, organizations and corporations – looks like the hats will be a mixture of white, black and all shades of gray.

[Addendum: Woohoo! If you use the discount code: “ESENTIRE” you will receive a 10% discount when signing up for SecTor – thanks, Eldon]


Ajax Experience: Wrapup

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Ajax Experience 2007 East is done. Another great show with really great content and really engaged attendees.

The final day started out with a keynote from Aza Raskin of Humanized fame, who among other things highlighted the Endless Pageless pattern that fellow Canadian Pete Forde talked about in an article last year.

I gave my Ajax Transport Layers talk to a modest yet receptive audience.

Doug Crockford‘s JSON talk was up to his usual standard.

In the afternoon there was an animated panel discussion on Ajax Futures, with John Resig from Mozilla, Andre Charland of Nitobi, Douglas Crockford and Aza Raskin.

Kris Zyp followed with a great talk on Advanced JSON. Some of the JSON-RPC stuff he talked about was very similar in concept to the Jester stuff covered by Pete and Eric yesterday. I have to say that Kris strikes me as the one guy who deserves the “smartest-guy-of-the-conference” award.

Here is a pic of the Ajax Experience Canadian speaker contingent – left to right: Andre Charland and Dave Johnson of Nitobi, and Pete Forde of Unspace.

Andre Charland, Dave Johnson, Pete Forde

And here’s a picture of yours truly, with my new t-shirt from The Dreaming. No relation, honest.

Brent Ashley, but not the one in The Dreaming


Ajax Experience: Stuart Halloway – Javascript Refactotum

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Stuart Halloway speaks again, and it’s entertaining as usual. Get the presentation slides on his blog.

Stuart’s Refactotum presentation encourages the audience to take the leap to make a contribution to an open source project.

How to be a Refactotum

  1. Set aside 4 hours
  2. Choose an open source project
  3. Get edge (the latest source from the repository)
  4. Get metrics
  5. Analyze
  6. Contribute
  7. Submit

Stuart walks us through a Refactotum project in which he made a small change to YUI’s DomCollapse. Along the way, we learn how to use TheFrontSide’s CrossCheck for Javascript unit testing, and get a great refactoring tutorial.


Ajax Experience: Ryan Breen – Ajax Performance Analysis

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

See Ryan’s presentation slides in PDF form.

Ryan Breen is VP Technology at Gomez. He blogs at his own site at

Ryan divides performance monitoring tools into two categories:

Network Visualization

  • Firebug
  • Webkit Web Inspector
  • IBM Page Detailer

Client Side Profiling

  • JSLex
  • Firebug and Firebug lite
  • Dojo.Profile

“The largest opportunity for optimization exists at the network layer”

Latency is the target for best optimization ROI. Techniques include:

  • fewer requests
  • pack more info into each request
  • reuse connections
  • increase connection parallelism
  • minimize bandwidth use
  • respect caching but don’t rely on it

Fewer Requests
A great way to make fewer requests is with image concatenation, whereby a bunch of images are bundled into a single larger image, and lay out the sub-images via css viewports into the large image.

Another way is to bundle multiple Javascript and CSS files together.

Connection Persistence
usually broken by firewall configs – test from outside your environment.

Connection Parallelism
HTTP spec allows two concurrent browser connections to each server.
Using multiple hostnames per server, you can get two connections per hostname and increase the number of parallel connections allowed.


HTTP Compression (gzip, deflate)
JS Obfuscation

Don’t overlook the simple things
when linking to a directory, remember the trailing slash so the server doesn’t have to redirect the browser

There’s a bit more as you will see when you look at the presentation PDF, and he gives some demos of code profiling in action – I imagine you can tell already that Ryan is extremely knowledgeable about and experienced with browser application performance analysis.


Ajax Experience: Stuart Halloway – Advanced Prototype

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Stuart Halloway is one of the most engaging speakers you are ever to likely to see. He knows his topics well and he presents in a very entertaining and often tangential style.

I won’t bother to comment on the Advanced Prototype part of his talk – you can find prototype discussed in many places. I’ll try instead to follow some of the tangents.

Stuart expresses a strong opinion about Javascript 2.0 – to wit that it is an abomination up with which he will not put. He says that it seems to consist of a bunch features added by people who don’t “get” how Javascript 1.x should have taught them to program, all imposed from on high by the ActionScript camp (a charge I’ve heard from others in the ECMAScript observer community).

Recommended tools:
Javascript Shell

Random rant: “a Domain Specific Language is a way of dressing up your crappy IDE so it looks nice”

I look forward to his “Refactotum” talk tomorrow, which will be about how to contribute to an open-source project.


Ajax Experience: Chris Schalk – Google Gears

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Chris Schalk is a Developer Advocate at Google. His talk is called Beyond XHR: Taking Ajax Offline With Google Gears.

Google Gears is a browser plugin that provides offline storage and other supporting functionality. It is supported in most popular browsers.

With Gears you can completely decouple communication from UI actions. The communication happens periodically when connectivity is available.

The three APIs that Gears provides are:

  • LocalServer – to access the application offline
  • Database – a powerful relational db (SQLite) for storage
  • WorkerPool – a way to dispatch chunks of code to run in separate thread-like pools that don’t impact your app


  • ResourceStore – capture individual online resources for offline use
  • ManagedResourceStore – capture entire applications for offline use (using a manifest file)

Chris’s presentation is itself an offline app created with Gears (no link, I’m afraid although a variant of it comes with the gears download). It works equally well online or offline.


  • SQLite – Open source, mature, small, fast full featured relational db
  • Gigabtes of storage


  • thread-like functionality
  • no more blocking the browser UI
  • communications via IPC – no shared state

Chris is showing us some Full Text Search code samples that leverage the FTS3 features of SQLite

What’s Next

  • Support Google Apps going offline
  • Support External app developers
  • FTS3 in languages other than English
  • Cross-domain API and other WorkerPool enhancements

Chris encourages us to visit to discover the cool things google is working on and learn how to use them.

I’m going to subscribe to the Google Code Blog RSS feed right now.

If you have Gears loaded up and want to try an example app, have a look at the blog.gears sample app.


Ajax Experience: John Resig – The Future Of Javascript

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

John Resig, the creator of JQuery who works at Mozilla, is helping us to understand all of the new features in Javascript 2 / ECMAScript 4.

You can download the ECMAScript 4 final draft to see the details.

My initial take is that while there are lots of neat things, many seem to me to be new ways to make your code more complex and confusing. I think Douglas Crockford, who’s sitting beside me, feels similarly.

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Live blogging from Ajax Experience East

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

I’m in Boston this week for the Ajax Experience conference.

As usual, it’s got a stunning array of speakers and keynotes. I’ll be blogging as I go, so stay tuned.