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about two weeks after it was mentioned at oscon, microsoft has submitted 2 licenses to the OSI for approval.  you can read more about it here.

i've previously mentioned i think this is a good thing and the OSI process of license approvals is a public one, allowing for comments and seeing the process vetted in the community, not just behind closed doors.  this will be interesting to follow.

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what is windmill?  it is described as:

Project Windmill was created with the intention of reaching 100% automated testing of heavy Ajax web applications after trying desperately to make existing solutions work.

i'm eager to listen to this one.  i've used selenium as a web testing UI platform in the past and like a lot of what it offers...i'm expecting to see what windmill provides better/different and if it is more simplistic...here we go.

the guys behind this are mikeal rogers and adam christian of the cosmos web project(?) which is now the chandler server project.

so adam first is showing the demonstration of windmill testing the calendar feature of the chandler server -- showing automated testing of ajaxy drag/drop features, etc.  he points to a window that is open, calling it the 'windmill ide' which looks like.

requirements for the project:

    • run single test on all target browsers
    • easily debug tests
    • easily fit into continuous integration

why windmill?

    • needed to test heavy ajax application which changed dramatically
    • existing solutions (selenium) didn't fill all reqs
    • debugging/test authoring was difficult
    • CI integration was a pain
    • extending libraries wasn't easy

architecture... the service is completely written in python, ide is javascript and the test authoring library is anything.

what can be automated?

    • OOTB support for: open, click, check, radio, wait, type, doubleClick, select, dragDrop
    • all controller actions support a unified 'locator' to reference UI elements supporting xpath, link, name, id, and jsid (calls a javascript function which returns an element id).

the ide features:

    • multi-browser test recorder
    • multiple layers of support for perf info and metrics
    • DOM explorer (much like firebug, but multibrowser)
    • javascript shell (thank you mochikit)

service features:

    • extensible logging
    • 3 run modes: headless command line; shell mode; wx GUI
    • browsing launching and configuration
    • server level pre and post hooks for result parsing

these guys are working diligently on end-user docs and getting information out.  they know there may be bugs, and are hoping people use it and find them -- they are quick to respond right now.

adam is demonstrating this in action right now...recorder looks cool, ide looks good, they did a good job here, you should check it out!

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forget it, i'm not calling it a keynote ;-)

the morning session (which started out being a very, very thin crowd -- parties must have been good) started with a data visualization talk by ben fry.  honestly, i wish you could have been here for that.  the demonstrations were awesome.  the visualizations weren't pie charts, etc.  they weren't mashups.  think data meets industrial light and magic, pixar, or your favorite animation/special effect/interactive big-dog.  ben showed a cool visualisation of apache log files that looked like a flower blooming and you could create new 'stems' on it (best i can describe it).  he also showed a cool one demonstrating a correlation between baseball salaries and performance...with the ability to change the point in time in the season -- so you can see who is worth the money...as a baseball fan this was cool (note: yankees don't appear to be getting a good ROI).  he did some other ones with music and images that was just unreal...it was very cool and i hope there are videos online you can search for.

next up is robin hanson on a discussion on 'overcoming bias' which i'm not really jiving this early in the morning -- especially after ben's demonstrations.  maybe it's me, but i want geek stuff.  i think his information is probably interesting, but let's be real, i just woke up -- and half these guys are probably hung over from hanging out with the mozilla party all night.  or maybe i'm just not on the same intellectual plane -- which is a fair assumption.  i'll probably go back to his site later, but for a 15 minute slot it is perhaps too much 'heavy stuff' for such a short discussion.

next up is bill hilf from microsoft.  see here for announcements.  even in the setup there are jabs at the mother ship, etc.

now is rick falkvinge (of the pirate party) with copyright regime vs. civil liberties.  irony that microsoft is wedged between 'overcoming bias' and a discussion on copyrights? ;-)  rick showed that during their last election in sweden, the pirate party yielded 0.63% of the vote...which got their party in the top 10, the youth vote putting them at 4th position.  "poor lady justice has a problem."  rick talks about the threat of losing postal secret as a result of ensuring copyright infringement doesn't exist.  what is the platform?:

    • free file sharing and sampling
    • shorten copyright time
    • ban drm
    • abolish patents
    • strengthen privacy, due process
    • transparent government

i like listening about copyright.  i initially became intrigued at different thought process at a previous presentation at oscon actually by lawrence lessig who has some opinions on the matter.  rick is very passionate about this topic and very well spoken.  i'm enjoying this dialogue.  rick ends by saying that no politicians presentation would be complete without talking about campaign donations -- and notes that donations in sweden are not regulated ;-).

final discussion is entitled 'how to ignore marketing and become irrelevant in two days' with steve yegge.  you may know the name as he is from google and ported the rails framework to javascript.  steve's here talking about branding and does it matter.  i love these conversations as well.  he talks about new coke vs. coke classic, turboc vs. quickc, etc.  great conversation, steve was entertaining and engaging...invite him back for longer times.

overall a good/better mix of opening session content.

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at oscon this morning, microsoft unveiled a new web site outlining positions on open source strategy.  the goal is to provide transparency into microsoft's perspective on OSS and a place where evidence and information can be shared.

you can visit the new site here: Open Source at Microsoft.

you might ask, 'what about , isn't that what it was supposed to be?' and you'd have a valid question.  port25 is the site for the open source software lab at microsoft.  it will continue to be a source for technical information with the oss technical community versus anything outlining an oss strategy.

so what else is microsoft doing in oss land?

microsoft partnered with SpikeSource in an agreement to certify all the SpikeIgnited solutions on the Windows platform.

what else?  how about microsoft's intention to submit the microsoft shared source licenses to the OSI for approval?  more details will come as the licenses are submitted to the process.  personally i think this is great.  the OSI process is a very open and public process where the licenses are vetted/commented on in open forum with the OSI.  you can read about the shared source licenses here.  this is a good thing for microsoft and the open source community.  i love the microsoft permissive license (Ms-PL) and what it provides for developers as well as certain protection it provides...it's been described as BSD-like, and is pretty good and simple, easy to understand.

so that's what is going on in microsoft open source land...we're looking forward for more to come!  today john lam will be demonstrating and talking about ironruby and the dynamic language runtime at oscon...looking forward to that one!

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what?! a session at oscon about generating microsoft office document formats?  has he gone mad?  that is what i wanted to know so i sat in on michael koziarski's session on this topic.

recognize the name?  you should if you are a rails developer...koz is part of the rails core team.  great guy, smart dude.  fun to listen to -- very dynamic.

anyhow, i went to this session as the description read that microsoft developers had been able to generate well formatted office documents for a long time, so why not bring some love to the open source world.  i hopped in about five minutes late to the session and didn't hear the setup, but the gist of it was the problem statement i gathered of needing to generate document formats (word, pdf, odf, xls, etc.) based on data and in the format the user chooses.  oh yeah, and through rails.

michael walked us through the research he did, citing various aspects of choices:

    • ms office apis: only on windows, com, they aren't .net developers, complicated api's, no pdf support, design changes may be challenged
    • pdf-writer: expensive design experience, no .doc conversion support
    • rich text format: archaic meta information, no .doc support, expensive design changes
    • LaTeX: see rich text format, oh an no pdf support
    • HTML: conversion utilities were horrible
    • ODF: open standard, x-plat tools, simplified design lifecycle.

guess which one won -- odf.

michael discussed the two primary problems needing to be resolved with using ODF: creation and conversion.  the creation was the simpler and required understanding of the structure of an ODF document (which is a zip file with manifests and content much like openxml docs from office 2007).  he notes that there is one folder called "Configurations2" that he has no idea what it does, but deleting it did not affect the doc :-).  although the ODF format is xml, it involves over 24 namespaces which presented some challenges in creation (i.e., why didn't they just use Builder in Ruby?) for simple elements (an image requires 4 different namespaces alone). 

after they perfected the creation mechanism, they needed conversion -- on the fly.  this proved to be surprisingly difficult.  why?  well there is no command line output in openoffice (the design tool) for creating the converted documents.  so thus, introduce UNO.  it is a bridge to openoffice for various languages -- essentially a COM interface.  but then came michael's other problem...no ruby bindings.  argh.  but there was a python one.

michael pointed out that he could have taken the time to create/finish a ruby binding, but why.  he merely had to understand the implementation of the python one and make it work.  there were issues with the python one, namely that it required X11...to be running...with a logged in user.  yikes.  because of this they had to do some re-architecting of the solution.  it sounds quite slick and echoed software/services messaging.  basically the odf docs were initially stored in amazon s3 storage.  then using amazon sqs (queuing service) another server would pull them out and do the conversion and put them back in the desired format.  michael articulated one issue with this as the amazon s3 servers are replicated across multiple servers...so when they uploaded an object from new zealand to s3, the server in northern california might request something that isn't replicated yet -- so they had to build in a retry mechanism as well.

at the end of the day their system works.  admittedly michael has some reservations of scale, but it works for the business problem at hand.  i emailed michael afterwards and asked if he considered using the odf converter for openxml that is open sourced to provide interop...not sure if that would help or not.  apparently openoffice is producing an odftoolkit as well that has "conversion" in their diagram that might be beneficial for odf development in the future.

that wrapped up day 1 for me today.  there are a few parties tonight, maybe i'll go, likely not.  stay tuned tomorrow for microsoft news at oscon as bill hilf is a part of the keynote...er i mean general session.