Due to the recent hypes around Ajax and web development I’ve been thinking about a more effective method to write web applications running both on the server as on the client by writing code in just one environment and language instead of two: PHPavascript.

Having all kinds of fancy libraries to help you does help a lot; but you still got to manage transfering all data from the client and the server and back by hand; which espacially with javascript is quite tricky to do not only because it isn’t the easiest language to debug but also because every browser tends to do things a bit different with javascript.

It would be nice, I thought, to have a language for developing sererside and client side at the same time:

client TextBox mytextbox = TextBox.FromId("mytextbox");

int server function CalculateSum(first, second) {
  return first + second;

void client function ShowSum(first, second) {
  mytextbox.text = CalculateSum(first, second);


Basicly you mark a language entity to be either on the client or server side. The compiler would take care of the rest.

This would be really cool if it would be implemented but there would be quite a few issues:

  • All client side functions and variables can be forged by the user; a naive programmer could put too much trust in functions on the client side
  • Synchronizing variables on server and client side and executing functions on server and client side could with a suffisticated algorithm be managed pretty decently although it would still create a lot of overhead when the programmer doesn’t pay attention on the usage of his function/variable location. Having hundreds of variable transfers for one page would be a lot, although very possible when a programmer doesn’t take care or the compiler is too dumb.
  • Language features available on the server side and only available on the client side with dirty hacks could be a bottleneck if the programmer doesnt take enough care. How to implement a mySQL connection for instance (not considering the fact that it wouldn’t be very safe in the first place)
  • etc

Basicly it would be way easier to develop a web application but I don’t know what would be better: having a hard to handle situation as it is now where you are forced to think efficiently, or an easy to use environment as such a language could provide where everything works with the temptingness of not even thinking about what happens beneath the bonnet.

Although there still are these advantages:

  • Vastly reduced development time
  • Highly maintainable code; a compiler could even create seperate javascript files for each specific browser and compile to the desired server side language

Ajax, the hype

It’s new!

It’s cool!

And now it even got a name! Ajax.

(what’s ajax?)

The funny this is that it is quite old and it has been used for a long time already. It just wasn’t hyped before.

Also this phenomenon clearly illustrates the dissatisfaction with the current static Html document standard common to the world wide web. Don’t deny it: html sucks for user interfaces! Html is a format for documents notuser interfaces.

A child of Html could make a nice User Interface definition; main thing would getting rid of awquard javascript. Using a more dynamic Document Object Model, and espacially a consistant one, with some kind of Intermediate Language providing power but still security like Java, or .Net or maybe a new one, which should be hosted by the browser itself instead of a nasty plugin noone has, would be perfect.


Phalanger is a PHP-Compiler for the .net framework. It can be used to run existing PHP applications on webservers with far greater performance than using PHP itself:

In contrary with PHP itself the bottleneck isn’t the execution of the code itself but the underlying functions for executing the code: phalanger still uses the PHP library for the PHP functions which creates a lot of overhead due to interop and makes the PHP objects not as native to .net as it could. In contrary to PHP you would be best off not using the functions but trying to use the .net ones or your own written.

In my own little benchmark for basic differences between normal .net and PHP, PHP came out to be 5000 times slower. When phalanger finaly compiles into proper .net code by avoiding any PHP library and PHP interop it would be a -lot- faster. When people would start to like it and install mod_mono on their apache webservers to run it they would probably find that they’ll be better of with with c# or They after all got a way cleaner syntax than PHP and are happier working with the .net framework. (I don’t want to know what hacks they used at the phalanger compiler to get include and require working when compiling everything to one dll).

In the mean time microsoft is rubbing its hands

Copy protecting

From software, audio to video are being illegaly copied and everytime the major brands try to implement some kind of protection. They always claim their protection to be perfect, and yet it is always broken, for it is quite simple:

As long as the intended user has the platform on which he`ll run it in his own possession he can always adapt it in someway to extract the data. Even the best video protection can’t beat making a bypass in your monitor to acquire the image on your screen.

Even protecting something like a DVD is almost impossible. The dvd player hardware and software must be able to read what’s on the cd, and a protection must be able to be read to. Also there must be dvd writers to write a protection. Now all major brands can say they’ll put a protection in their DVD burners to protect from writing to the DVD protection section, but then another brand creates their DVD burners that can write to it and everyone will buy those which the big brands won’t let happen. And even if they got the disk itself truly protected someone can emulate the DVD using software or even hardware.

Also there are things that allow itself to be copied, but the original copier can be tracked; this by putting in every video/song/software a unique signature which can be tracked back to the store which then can track it back to the person who copied it. Sounds great, would be impossible to forge when they use strong RSA like cryptography, just one problem, when inserting random trash instead of the signature someone can know the piece is illegal but cannot track someone, hopeless.

The only, and only way, to stop illegal copying is making buying legaly less of an effort than acquiring illegaly. I hope they will relize this sooner or later for honoustly I`m becoming sick of all those ‘magic’ protections.

Enter The Unkown: Algorithm`s A programmer Has Got To Know

I don’t like to link to other blogs or articles for I am just a lame copier, but I’d like to point my select few readers to Enter The Unkown, the weblog of Kaja Fumei, where he will point out some Algorithms a Programmer should know. First one in the list are the Hash Tables.

You don’t need to know the stuff behind these kind of features a language library exposes; but it helps a lot if you know how it works and what the weak and strong points are.

Easy Crossbrowser JavaScript

The major problem when dealing with javascript for me was that javascript acts differently on each different browser. And there are a lot of browsers supporting javascript.
Usualy to get it working it would include having for each sensitive operation a big if block. And in the a bit nicer javascripts that would become a lot. Also it becomes hard to maintain.

So what to do about it?

Actually.. C(++) gave me a possible solution. Use macro`s. It ain’t possible to use macro`s in javascript itself feasable, so what you do is you compile your javascript with macro`s to a different javascript file for each browser. Then using a simple server side script you can let the browser get what it wants.

I’m not a javascript guru, so I hardly know all the problems of each browser.

If a javascript guru does read it, please contact me – it would be great to have such a goodie.

Introducing Paradox

Kaja Fumei and I are currently developing a light-weight rich jit-ed language called Paradox.

The main feature of Paradox will be that it will be very light weight in memory and startup time.

It will be great to use for scripting in other applications which demand high performance like for instance games. Also for normal scripting purposes or normal applications it will be way more suitable than normal interpreted languages.

Basicly it will feature a JIT Compiler, Generation GC, rich (modulair) base library and a being very extensible.

It will probably not perform as good as the .net framework but will rather come in the range of mono`s and java`s performance, which is very high compared to the performance of normal scripts.

When Kaja, who is currently working on the JITc and gGC finished the base I’ll start working on the core library and help optimizing and I will post a preview of its capabilities.

(for those wondering how long it will take:

The Unknown – 森の中に木がない。 says:
reeally long week


Beating Spam

Most mail clients now include spam filters, which are learning and improving themselves.

The problem though is that when spam keeps getting smarter your program has got too which still means reporting half of your spam mail as spam and checking your spam mail for your regular mail. Also when you start again after a reinstall and the spam filter has lost its experience you got to start over again.

Now, I guess it would be great to create a centralized independant organization specificly to regognize (and when it becomes successfull also extract the spammers for prosecution) spam.

The problem is how to organize such a centralized system, for when someone receives a spam email it has got to check with the centralized server whether the spam is spam. The amounts of spam are huge and doubling the enourmous bandwidth and cpu spam has costed already isn’t a very pleasant foresight.

It would be feasable however to create a spam regognition service to run on a clients computer which updates itself with the latest definitions once in a while. This would undoubtly be way more efficient.

The only problem that we are left with is how to get such a system to be intergrated with existing applications, if no one uses it it would be rather useless.

When you have some idea`s on this, please share them.

Trying Thunderbird

When I got my windows reinstalled I tought it was time to try something else than Office Outlook (espacially because a big mailbox makes Outlook slow), so I tried out Mozilla Thunderbird.

What I noticed about Thunderbird in comparison with Outlook:

Faster, slicker UI
Although Thunderbird doesn’t look as great as Outlook it certainly has got a nice interface which is customizable enough.
The Interface itself is also a lot faster than Outlook`s, which I find more important than grafical splender.
Also the collapsable headerview above emails and information bars above the email (eg. a bar showing that thunderbird thinks the email or spam or that thunderbird is blocking images) are a nice addition and are worked out better than in Outlook containing them in a limited way.
Also thunderbird seems to interface directly with firefox letting it show html emails a lot faster than Outlook does.

In the beginning the configuration was rather confusing. Although this also applied to the configuration with Outlook when I first tried it out. I still think that the account configuration interface could have been a lot more intuitive.

Outgoing mail
Thunderbird requires and actually uses only one smtp server for all your mail accounts. Although you can specify more it doesn’t seem to be able to specify which Smtp server to use to sent the actual mail. This is a shame for espacially when sending important emails it is more trustworthy if the email can be traced back to the smtp server of the original domain. Also some smtp servers don’t allow seemingly spoofed `from` fields.

Thunderbird seems to have a very similar extension system as Firefox which I can appreciate. There are some very usefull extensions like Enigmail which is a front end for GPG for Assymetric email encryption. It doesn’t only manage your encrypted emails, it also got a very good interface for all kinds of GPG operations like all kinds of key managment.

Everybody should give thunderbird a try, it’s a great toy :).

Plugins, the web and python

Plugins for web applications seems to be discussed a lot more recently by bloggers (Zef did for instance).

Plugins usualy come in 2 shapes: hacks and modules.

The key difference between a hack and a module is that a hack changes existing behaviour and a module adds behaviour or maybe extends some. In Zef`s example he is talking about possibly adding a calander to google`s gmail – that is definitely a module.

When changing the whole interface by for instance being able to plan appointments inside other module`s (like viewing email) that would require changing those modules and basicly make it a hack.

Modules are easy to make and maintain for they form seperate entitites which don’t often conflict. Most web applications already support module-based plugins like IPB. Some more functionality can be added to modules by letting modules hook onto certain events in the other application, but this has its limits.

Where hacks are also widely used, although these are very hard to maintain and usualy conflict which eachother.

So what is the best way to write a plugin based application?

I was thinking about that when I was working on a computer version of the popular card game Magic. There are already a lot of computer version which let players play the game but the players have to apply the rules themselves.. the computer doesn’t do that for them for there are for every card a lot of exceptions and new rules are added every month. To make such a game plugins would be required.

The way I solved this is by putting everything in the game in modules/plugins. The only thing the game does is saying ‘start’ to all plugins. One plugin responds to that and that may for instance be the UI plugin which shows the main UI form and then sais ‘postgui-start’, where another plugin may respond that extends the UI form for some new features in the game and then calls ‘postseries4gui-start’. A card itself is represented by a big hashtable containing all info of that card dynamicly, including functions. Letting one create-card attack another basicly is just a big dynamicly getting properties and calling functions which all are overloaded for new rules which seems to work pretty fine.

Guess what I used to develop this highly dynamic interaction which eachother?


Python is the perfect language for plugins.

Now.. why don’t we already got really nice web applications allowing this kind of highly dynamic plugins? Web applications are although using sessions, primarily stateless.. On every page view the whole script is loaded in the memory, and executed again and then unloaded. Nothing keeps persistant. Using plugins generates a lot of overhead on espacially loading stuff for every plugin must be able to hook onto and interact with everything. Doing this with the current model webservers just don’t work.

I already made some suggestions how to solve this at the server side, but changing this would take a lot of time.

So to get back to how to get this done -now- and not later is to keep working with a modulair way exposing the most used hooks and data access.

A suggestion for gmail:

Allow SOAP based access to gmail`s features. Exactly the same amount as access as the user has got.
Then allow adding new menu items and hooks on which a call is made to your specified url, which then can work with gmail on the client-access level using SOAP calls.

Best would be for google to just expose the api of gmail and give a limited functionality dev download so people can make modules in the source and send them to google back. If they like it they’ll use it.. I guess google will come up with something like that once. Or at least I hope it.

selfish driver control panels

A week ago my windows was agonizing slow. Starting up would take ages, and getting those ‘windows is out of virtual memory’ messages was common, so I decided to reinstall windows.
When reinstalled windows was using 120 mb without anything special installed.. so I started to install my usual application: apache, mysql, express, php.. etc..
At the point I got those installed windows was using 250 mb instead of 120mb! msSQL server uses 50mb`s (although that number isn’t displayed in the task manager properly (i guess due to modules). MySQL and Apache both 25mb`s…
So I put the apache/sql servers services off by default and made a little bat script to start those when I want and put that one on my desktop. I also made a backup of windows so I didn’t need that horribly slow reinstall..
I installed some basic drivers via the provided driver cd’s loading a lot of junk like tray icons on my computer. They did not appear to use a lot of memory in the taskmanager but when quiting them it saved 100 mb :-/. 100mb used by selfish driver control panels thinking they are the single-most-used application and the only one sucking that amount of memory…
So instead of using those horrible flashy flash autorun installers I let windows find the correct driver .inf files and install it.
This really saves a lot of performance.. (I’ve cut down my startup time by 4 times).

So, better let windows find the drivers you require on your driver cd’s instead of using those selfish flashy traybar spamming driver control panel installers.

Xr12 concept

I’ve been wanting to develop a massive online browser based game for a long time, for I have been addicted to those for quite some time and have been missing a lot of features and user input.

And here it is, I got myself already a few other people to help, and I just finished the server architecture for when it gets big:

Xr12 concept

I just hope I`ll be able to affort the system due to user activity, from experience I’ve seen that these online games tend to grow really fast.

Python Html Document Abstraction

Python is great!

>>> d = document()
>>> d.html.body.h1.value = "My Site!"
>>> d.html.body.p.value = "Welcome to this python generated site"
>>> str(d)
'<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML
 1.1//EN" "">
<html xmlns="" xml:lang="en">
<body><p>Welcome to this python generated site</p>
<h1>My site!</h1></body><head><title>

(Ignore the added slashes and the additional line breaks caused by wordpress)

By overloading the __get/set/delattr__ functions a html document can be represented like a real python object model.

I’ve just experimented a little bit with python code to ultimately go to write a framework to write nice dynamic python webbased applications in.

Although it appears that the names of the objects (html, body, p, etc) are the tag names, they aren’t. They are the identifiers of the tags.. in case the tag isn’t set by yourself but just created for it didn’t existed it uses as tag its alleged id.

The default created object when no object exists already with that id is a tag. This abstract document won’t be limited to tags. I’ve just made a styleTag class which allows:["font-family"] = 'verdana'

which is basicly the same as["body"].font-family = 'verdana'

In contrary to the normal tag class where an item is an attribute, this is different in the style tag for CSS got a lot of characters which python doesn’t like (like #).

Being able to manipulate a style sheet that easily allows every custom tag (maybe a datetimepickercontrol) to set its own style information by just using simple python code.

For the styletag isn’t bound to putting its emitted css in the emitted-html string itself in case it is emit-ed in a specific context like a webserver, it can even create a seperate css for this purpose.

Python allows much more dynamic features in a dynamic framework like this than any other language, I`m quite enthousiastic about it and am playing with new idea’s like a little child :-).

All kinds of idea’s would be welcome..

Just wondering whether such a thing has already been written for Python.. anyone knows?

Strange spam

The last few days this blog has been under heavy attack of comment spam. Although the excellent wordpress filters have put all of it in the moderation queue it still is quite some work so sift out any comments that actually are of a real person.

The odd thing I noticed out of curiousity is that the links don’t even seem to work on more than half of all the spam comments. They are basicly flooding you with for them hopefully tempting comments and if someone finaly has been tempted enough to click one it doesn’t work!