Tuesday, July 31, 2007

freemarker vs velocity

There is a feature comparison sheet on Freemarker site, listing why Freemarker is a superior templating engine to Velocity. Not very objective you may say, but there are certain features, like the use of JSP tags and XML transformation capabilities that Velocity lacks. Freemarker more closely follows the MVC pattern, in that Velocity allows you to change the model from the view (e.g. request.session.removeAttribute(attrName) will remove the attribute) while Freemarker does not let you do so. I do not think that any of the two engines is a serious contender for a full blown web engine to be honest, but I would be interested to see some speed statistics, especially for uses in high volume messaging applications where every single message would need to go through the engine. Furthermore, the quest for separation of the model from the view reminds me of that other quest for over-validation. I don't want templates that change my model, sure, but I don't want to have to recompile my classes just because an email wants person.surname in addition to person.name in it, either.

Friday, July 13, 2007


There's been an interesting development in the area of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) space during the last couple of years, that goes by the name Alfresco. I've been meaning to write about it for quite some time when I got tickled again by one recent email of theirs, announcing the release of Alfresco Community 2.1. For those of you not familiar with it who still think that ECM is all about boring apps organizing boring docs made by boring cos, think again. Alfresco is open source based on best-of-breed technologies, including Spring, Hibernate, Lucene, jBPM, MyFaces, Rhino etc and providing a rich set of interfaces like CIFS/SMB, FTP, WebDAV, Web Services, REST. It was started in 2005 by John Newton co-founder of Documentum and John Powell, former COO of Business Objects and has since been downloaded some 600,000 times and installed at more than 12,000 sites and going strong. I wonder what the implications will be on the likes of IBM (FileNet), Interwoven and Oracle.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

life is beautiful

Here's an idea: after the usual spam checks, pass every incoming email automatically through Snopes, as a last resort to spam prevention. These emails are hard to detect as the senders have usually added their very own personal comment, and most of the time they are among your trusted friends. Therefore, you not only stumble upon the email in your inbox instead of it being automatically thrown to your trash can, you are fooled by the sender into actually opening and reading the email before you realise it is yet another hoax. Worse still, you have to go manually through Snopes, just in case it is real. Life is beautiful is one of these hoaxes that was first circulated on the Internet back in 2002 and got sent to me again... today.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Vista has surely spiced up things a bit, as far as user interfaces go, and Mac's new Leopard is really beautiful. But how about rethinking the whole desktop and the ways one can interact with it? Anand Agarawala has done exactly that, with BumpTop, a physically-based, casual user interface that pushes the desktop metaphor with physics, piles and the pen. For the more inclined, Anand's Masters Thesis (Enriching the Desktop Metaphor with Physics, Piles and the Pen) and a paper co-authored with Ravin Balakrishnan say it all.