Why haven’t we got a html page bundle format ?

It suddenly struck me as odd that we haven’t got a html page bundle format ages ago. So what do I mean by that? Well, I was creating this documentation in a text based format (APT). And I was supposed to send this documentation to an outsider of the company. The only way I could send him the documentation, and still preserving the formatting, was by creating a PDF.
But it turned out that this documentation really didn’t fit into the paper format. Tables were cut, images to large, and so on. And what I really wanted was to let the customer read it, not concerning about wether he was going to print it or not. I should also say that the system I used didn’t allow me to adjust the paper format of the PDF.

So I started to think about alternatives. I could zip down the html, css and images. But then the customer would have to unzip it before reading it. And a lot of people wouldn’t understand how to do that. Then I could convert it into a document format not having limitations on the page format. But again the software I used didn’t support anything else but exporting to html and pdf.

What would have really helped me out was if we’ve had a unified way to bundle one or many html files (including resource files like images/css/js/movies) into one compressed file with a predetermined file extension. This would be pretty much the same thing as OpenOffice have done with their document files for years (It’s really just a zip-file). This way my customers email client would know how to handle the file by unpacking it and opening it in the default browser.

This could be really easy to implement:

1) Define an internal structure for the compressed bundle
2) Consider if it would need a meta file defining what to be found inside the bundle.
3) Find a file extension for this bundle format (eg: bwp)
4) Decide what compression format to be used.

And then the hard part:

Getting the different mail clients / browsers / operating systems to implement support for the format. *Gah!*

Please let me know it such a thing already exists, or if there have been any attempt to standardize on a solution concerning this.

Ok, I’ve got it Twitter

At least I have the balls to admit that I was wrong about Twitter (http://www.jakobnielsen.net/?p=25). But I still stick to a lot of what I said in the post referred.

I still think that some people are spamming their Twitter account a lot. But I have found the “unfollow” button. So now I follow people that tend to tweed funny stuff or things that I am interested in.

I still dislike the reply system. It is extremely hard to understand that people are finding this useful. I also stick to everything I said about tiny urls. They waste my time.

I have found software that makes it easier to follow communication on all the different services like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, ++. So it really doesn’t bother me being on yet another channel anymore.

So my new view on Twitter is: It is a nice little tool keeping me updated on things that interests me at work. But it has really no value for my private life. There Facebook is the right tool.

Where JSTL comes to short (Part 1 : I speak to you in klingon)

JSTL (JavaServer Pages Standard Tag Library / JSR-52) has been around for quite some time now. It was certainly a breath of fresh air when it was introduced as an alternative to inline java in JSP files. Unfortunately I still find it lacking. I will try to describe these problems as best I can in a number of posts here on my blog. Please comment if you think I have misunderstood some of the concepts along the way.

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Write gif-files with “standard java” in java 5

Java 5 supports reading GIF files. Java 6 also supports writing GIF files. I needed a nice way to write gif images from Java 5. A lot of GIF packages exists for Java 5. But most of them does not give the same nice result as the implementation by Sun. Since I couldn’t upgrade to Java 6 in my project, I backported parts of the javax.imageio package from openjdk-6-src-b09-11_apr_2008 (Can be downloaded from http://openjdk.java.net), so that it can run on Java 5. I’ve introduced new package names, so that this package will not mess with the standard javax.imageio package. Feel free to use it. But remember that it comes with no guarantees! If you find any problems you can mail me at java6-gif-backport/at/jakobielsen_dot_net.

Read more at http://www.jakobnielsen.net/java6-gif-backport

Logging with log4j in jetty-maven-plugin

The jetty-maven-plugin is a great way to run a webapp during development. But the main problem is that it doesn’t print debug messages when you are using commons-logging. The reason is that it by default uses org.apache.commons.logging.impl.SimpleLog. This logger can’t print debug messages. Here is the solution on how to change this default behaviour so that it use Log4J instead.

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