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Retooling the world wide web for its original purpose

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Presentation on web applications for research collaboration at osdc.au 2006.

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Retooling the world wide web for its original purpose

  1. 1. Retooling the World Wide Web for its Original Purpose Bringing Innovation in the Web back to the University
  2. 2. Pre History
  3. 3. • e.g. AARNET, Bitnet, JANET (UK) • Low bandwith networks • High technical barrier to entry
  4. 4. The Bronze Age
  5. 5. • Usenet • Wais • Gopher • Archie and Veronica • and Anonymous FTP
  6. 6. Limitations • Still all text mode based • Still high technical barrier to entry • Didn’t build critiacal mass
  7. 7. The Iron Age
  8. 8. The Iron Age
  9. 9. AKA The birth of the WWW • (coincided with the first “user friendly” Unix (NeXt) • Reminder - the WWW links documents and media together
  10. 10. The Age of Steel
  11. 11. This is where I came in
  12. 12. • Developed a web site for a hospital research unit • Used the tools that I knew how • (Notepad)
  13. 13. But they broke computers! • Realised how crippled windows was • Separating design from content • How do I do this? • perl -p -i -e ‘s{<font.*</font>}{}g; {(<head>)}{$1<style>$blah</style>’ • Absence useful tools :-(
  14. 14. My Replacement Broke It -----Original Message----- From: Kieren Diment Sent: Friday, 20 September 2002 11:46 To: IDENTITY PROTECTED Subject: Website problem The new java applets for the website only work with java enabled web browsers, It is unfriendly for people with disabilities. I suggest that you should revert to a text based navigation system for the website as currently it will not work well with screen readers, or will not work well if at all with older computers, [ Comments on IE only features snipped ] ---- Reply ---- Thats true about your comments, but I think Microsoft has monopolised the IT market and everyone besides you is using IE. I dont think diabled people will be going to the computer shop asking for UNIX systems of NETscape browsers.
  15. 15. 3 Years Later...
  16. 16. The Age of Silicon
  17. 17. Another Project • I learned Perl and began using Linux • I was asked to do another website • Scoop (http://kuro5hin.org) seemed to be a candidate for a web based research hub
  18. 18. But ... Problems • mod_perl • Dedicated server required • Very hard to debug • Mixture of content and presentation • Too many features • Spent too much time customising by feature removal
  19. 19. But it must have been a little successful • Because I was asked to do it again!
  20. 20. This time we’ll do it from scratch • Enter Maypole. • Develop a databased backed web application in ~ 10 lines of code.
  21. 21. But... • Spending 90% of the time dealing with Maypole and Class::DBI problems.
  22. 22. Fighting the problems • By Doing Evil • Stuffing controller logic into templates • Particularly authentication/authorization logic
  23. 23. Same problems again • mod_perl == mod_no_debugger
  24. 24. Positive Outcomes • I have a prototype • And a happy client who wants to pay me again • (at the next funding round :-/ )
  25. 25. Two Tier System • Public Website • Private research source and output (publications) repository • Private area has option to push out to public site
  26. 26. Enter Catalyst • Extendable • Model Agnostic • Supports Test driven development • And we’ll come to why this is important
  27. 27. The Public Site is Solved • Evaluating options for the private repository
  28. 28. Social Bookmarking for Scientists • GPL • Backed by a reputable publisher (NPG) • But...
  29. 29. Community Problems • GPL in name only • Limited Community • Don’t accept patches • Their production code != the GPL code • NO TEST SUITE
  30. 30. Technical Problems • mod_perl == mod_no_debugger • Class::DBI • (Sub::WrapPackages + Smart::Comments) • 20MB of error log per request • Class::DBI causes deep recursion errors!
  31. 31. And... • The data model is wrong by being too right
  32. 32. Zotero • Standalone XUL + sqlite application for Firefox 2 • But Removes collaboration features • Particularly incidental collaboration features
  33. 33. Zotero cont. • Better (less correct) data model • But would better be implemented as a server based collaborative application.
  34. 34. Wrap up: Evaluating the Community
  35. 35. Look at your OSS community and ask: • Do the same questions come up again and again? • Are there critical show stoppers? • How big is the community? • Can you get free support? • From what routes? IRC, ML?
  36. 36. http://www.totaldatasolution.com/colabr8

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