Archive for the ‘Web’ Category

npm Hell

A few years back I blogged about the RPM Hell (TreeTops, Jan 2012) that came about because of ineffective dependency checking. Needless to say, this reminded a lot of people about the infamous DLL Hell from many years prior. DLL and RPM dependency issues have generally been overcome with a variety of approaches and improvements in the tools and operating environments. Pushing functionality onto the Web or into the Cloud can help move the problem away from your local machine. After all, if the functionality is now just some JavaScript on a Web page then this shouldn’t be affected by whatever mess of libraries are installed on your local machine.

That worked for a while. Eventually the JavaScript workload grew [click title to read more…]

Stacking Up – part 2

In the first Stacking Up I looked at the bedrock of Internet/Web technology and showed that far from being stable it is more like flowing lava. Now I’m taking a quick journey through the frameworks that are layered on top of this lava, where naturally things are on fire.

Part 2 : Frameworks

First let me clarify what I mean by “framework”, as this is often a source of confusion. This definition is only in the context of Web-related technologies:

A framework is a set of generic software elements whose behaviour or characteristics are intended to be customized through extension, configuration and/or combination in order to assist the typical developer in the production of application-specific solutions. Through such customization, the [click title to read more…]

Stacking Up

Part 1 : Bedrock

Having been in the network/software business for a long time, it is tempting to assume that certain familiar technologies are essentially stable and don’t need so much as a second glance. Of course, thinking that something is stable is probably the first warning sign. I’m reminded of how character sets had stabilized (mainly US-ASCII) by the mid-80s only to have the boat rocked by this new upstart of the late 80s known as Unicode. Today, ASCII, ANSI and its variants are mere throwbacks.

With this in mind, I cast an eye over the technology stack that has been the mainstay of the Internet and Web for many years to see if there are some new upstarts [click title to read more…]

Blue

Many years ago, at one of the W3C meetings in a Boston hotel, Tim and I were waiting for an elevator to arrive and I chanced to ask him a question one of my sons had asked me some weeks before: “why are hyperlinks blue?” It wasn’t the amazing answer I expected. He just shrugged and said (paraphrasing): “I only had a few colours on the palette and needed one that looked OK amongst the black text and the window’s grey background, and so I picked the blue. No real reason, I suppose.” He smiled in a way that was almost apologetic for such a meek answer, but the truth is the truth. He just picked it because it looked [click title to read more…]

Bleeding hearts

It’s the first weekend after the announcement of CVE-2014-0160, aka “Heartbleed” and if you were to believe even a small fraction of what’s been written about it you’d think the world had come to an end. There’s a lot of nonsense. A lot of dumbed-down explanations seem to add more confusion (Randall Munroe’s angle is a notable exception). The detailed investigations will be read by many, but only understood properly by those who already understand.

As a consequence of this bug I’ve been particularly busy with many of the systems around the world in which I have a role (always behind the scenes). All is a bit quieter now, so I’ve had a chance to peruse what has been written, [click title to read more…]