Developer Insights

Braga Geek Nights

Posted in Uncategorized by Ricardo Alves on April 5, 2010

Last year, at Braga, with the help of friends, colleagues and also some teachers from University of Minho’s Department of Informatics, I’ve started Braga Geek Nights, a project that aims to bring together geeks from the Minho region (Portugal), to share their views and experiences about technologies, science and other geek stuff.

The concept is based on the Oxford Geek Nights, but with a broader range in regard to the session subjects (not necessarily focused on web related technologies). Each monthly session is made of two or three talks, which may be related to a common subject or completely independent.

Braga Geek Nights

Braga Geek Nights

From June 2009 till now, we had eight sessions, on a regular monthly basis (each first tuesday in the month). Exceptions were August and September mainly because, due to our proximity to the university’s campus, student speakers and attendees play a major role, and so we missed this period, filled with vacations and exams. So far, the reception to each session has been great and I hope the event keeps growing.

Tomorrow, April 6th, we’ll have the ninth session (April 2010). If you think you’re a geek and live near Braga, don’t miss it.

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iCal invitations with Plone

Posted in ical, Plone, Python, Zope by Ricardo Alves on May 31, 2009

I recently released the first beta of collective.eventinviter — sorry for the name, but couldn’t come up with a better one. It’s a simple add-on package that enables Plone to send an iCal invitation (email with an attached .ics file) to each event attendee. Something that may be desirable in collaboration/intranet environments.

The emails are sent based on the content of the attendees field. So it checks each value at the attendees field, and sends email messages if:

  • The value is the username of a registered user, and if that user has a valid email address.
  • The value is a valid email address.

Values that match none of the these conditions are simply ignored.

Although it is intended to work out-of-the-box for the most common use cases, it is also possible to adapt collective.eventinviter to other event content types, i.e. other than ATEvent. For example, if we have a custom content type ‘MyEvent’, to enable iCal invitations it just needs to implement the marker interface IInvitationAware:

from collective.eventinviter.interfaces import IInvitationAware
class MyEvent(...):

If, for some reason, MyEvent holds information about attendees at different field(s), an adapter implementing IAttendeeEnumerator must retrieve such list of recipients properly, which should be pretty simple to implement:

from collective.eventinviter.interfaces import IInvitationAware
from collective.eventinviter.interfaces import IAttendeeEnumerator
class AttendeeEnumerator(object):

    def attendees(self):
        # return list of valid email recipients

Currently there are some changes that I would like to include, maybe after some discussion, before a final release:

  • Make it optional to invite attendees, using a global configuration (property) or a checkbox for each event edition.
  • Include more information at the email message sent. Currently, the message includes only the event title and an attached .ics file.
  • Should this feature be available as a content rule?

Feedback, suggestions and testing results would be very much appreciated.

State of the Web Survey by Web Directions

Posted in Accessibility, Browsers, web development, Web Standards by Ricardo Alves on January 10, 2009

Web Directions published the results of the State of the Web Survey, which tries to “(…) get a sense of the philosophies and techniques as well as the technologies, that web designers and developers are using today.”

Although the results are not surprising, there are some interesting data that’s worth note:

  • Mac OS X 10.5 is the primary operating system, followed by Windows XP.
  • Firefox 3 is the primary browser used by developers to surf the web.
  • Most tested browsers in web development are Firefox 3, IE 7, IE 6 and Safari.
  • Most used HTML style tags attributes are width, height, cellspacing and cellpadding.
  • A developers majority follows a development approach that considers consistency across browsers important, and so providing features not supported on all browsers, but making sure it works on the non-supported ones.
  • A large majority leaves IE problems to the end, developing according to W3C standards and only then working around IE.
  • JQuery is the most used javascript library.
  • In respect to the software used on servers, Apache stands as the primary web server, Linux as the choice for the OS, MySQL is the preferred DBMS and PHP the most used programming language.

Of course, we must also keep in mind that the Web Directions’ audience is not an accurate sample of the whole web development world. It’s composed of web developers and designers that are mostly well informed about web standards and accessibility, which explains some of the trends.

New release cycle is good

Posted in Plone by Ricardo Alves on April 15, 2008

The new release cycle is, without a doubt, a big step forward for Plone. More regular and predictable releases will attract more attention for new features, and more visibility means new potential users. Making a major release last for a while, complemented with periodic upgrade releases, also contributes, ultimately, to a more robust code base.

Now we don’t have to wait for a year, or even more, for a new feature-rich release. There is, obviously, a lot to improve, but Plone-3.1, which includes a set of handy features like new portlets, dependency handling in GenericSetup and more, is already a clear evidence of the new release cycle success.

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Universities choices for content management

Posted in content management, education, Plone by Ricardo Alves on December 11, 2007

The University of California at Davis released the preliminary results of a survey on web CMS adoption by universities. It was released October 22, 2007, but it’s worth the reading. This survey may be of little significance, since the sample includes a total of 129 respondents, but, as Kas Thomas states in CMSWatch Trends, we can confirm the idea that “even the best minds in the world can’t agree on how to do content management”.

It’s also interesting to see that for universities using a web CMS, a large number uses a custom built solution. For the ones using solutions available on the market, Plone is the most adopted. The comments page also includes some interesting opinions about the issues raised in this particular context of content management.

Another important information is that a large majority of universities don’t consider mandatory the usage of the adopted web CMS. This means that each department, faculty or institute will make its own choices. But that’s the nature of universities, and maybe that’s the way it should be.

First Post

Posted in Uncategorized by Ricardo Alves on November 25, 2007

This blog is intended to include my opinions and thoughts about software development for the web and its specific issues, like browser support, accessibility, usability and web standards compliance. Having developed web applications with Python/Zope/Plone for a few years, I’ll also give some extra attention to the reality of the Plone world.

More will be posted soon. Stay tuned!