Archive for February, 2006

Prototype.js Cheat Sheets

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

If you use the Prototype.js framework, or would like to learn more about it, Jonathan Snooks has created some very attractive "Cheat Sheets" that will definitely be of some help to you. Check them out here.

Update to Visual.SpellCheck 0.95

Tuesday, February 7th, 2006

I have posted an update to Visual.SpellCheck that resolves the conflict Firefox was having with the QuickTags in the WordPress editor. A big thanks to Garrison from for his help in locating the problem, and for updating the source code at his end so that there are no issues with future compatibility.

Look for more updates to this plugin later this week…

WordPress Plugin: Visual.SpellCheck

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

Current Version: 0.95

I don't use the WYSIWYG Editor that comes with WordPress 2.0, and as a result have been getting extremely frustrated with the lack of a spell-checker. So I decided to try and get one working, preferably using AJAX to make it as fast and user-friendly as possible.

I am now proud to present Visual.SpellCheck – an AJAX-based Spell Checker for WordPress. It includes the ability to:

  • Highlight incorrectly spelled words
  • List suggested words from the aspell dictionary
  • List suggested words from your custom dictionary
  • Allow new words to be added to your Custom Dictionary

The Spell Checker works in Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari.


Here is a demo of Visual.SpellCheck. It should work fine in Mozilla browsers (including Firefox) and Internet Explorer. It will also function in Opera, although there are some small issues. Follow the instructions in the textarea itself, and feel free to edit it's contents and then test.


Follow these basic steps:

  • Download this file: (37Kb)
  • Unzip the file on your computer.
  • Upload the complete folder "Visual.SpellCheck" to your WordPress plugins directory (found in "/wp-content/plugins")
  • Login to WordPress and go to the Plugins module
  • Find the line that says "Visual.SpellCheck" and click "Activate"
  • Change the permissions on the file Visual.Syntax/personal_dictionary/dict.txt" to "757" so that the server can write to the file

Note: Pspell must be installed on the server for this to work. Also this plugin is not compatible with the WYSIWYG HTML Editor that comes with WordPress (TinyMCE comes with its own spellchecker anyway). You will have to disable the WYSIWYG and be using the old-style editor (textarea).


This project is based on code from Broken-Notebook. Thanks to Garrison who has modified his original code to allow the plugin to integrate with WordPress and minimise issues with future compatibility.

Known Minor Bugs

This is the only bug I am aware of – and it is pretty minor:

  1. In Opera the popup menu that shows the suggested words always sits top-left of the textarea

If you are able to help with this that would be great. :)


2006-02-04 - Firefox QuickTags conflict fixed. Now version 0.95
2006-02-04 - Public release of version 0.90

If you liked this plugin you can digg it here or please leave a comment.

IBM in the News: AJAX, DB2, LAMP

Friday, February 3rd, 2006

IBMThere have been some very exciting developments from IBM over the last few weeks. Here are four areas of major interest to me:

AJAX Toolkit Framework (ATF) Project

In January 2006 IBM announced the ATF Project. The goal is to extend the Eclipse platform to allow for extensible frameworks and exemplary tools for building IDEs (integrated development environments) for the many different AJAX runtime offerings such as Dojo, OpenRico, and Zimbra. These tools will contain features for developing, deploying, debugging and testing AJAX applications, which is not so easy to do using development tools of today.

The tools built upon these frameworks will include some very exciting features:

  • Enhanced JavaScript editing such as edit-time syntax checking;
  • An embedded Mozilla web browser;
  • An embedded DOM (Document Object Model) browser;
  • An embedded JavaScript debugger.

Open Ajax Initiative

On February 1st IBM and other industry leaders announced the "Open AJAX" initiative to promote the adoption of AJAX technology. This project is going to see collaboration between BEA, Borland, the Dojo Foundation, Eclipse Foundation, IBM, Laszlo Systems, Mozilla Corporation, Novell, Openwave Systems, Oracle, Red Hat, Yahoo, Zend and Zimbra.

The goal? To promote Ajax's promise of universal compatibility with any computer device, application, desktop or operating system, and easy incorporation into new and existing software programs.

DB2 Express-C

On January 30th IBM introduced a free version of its DB2 database. DB2 Express-C is the same database as IBM's commercial offerings but the company places limits on what kind of hardware it can run on. It can be deployed on systems with two processor cores or up to two dual-core chips on AMD or Intel-based servers. The memory limit is 4GB but there are no limits on the size of database or number of users.

This move really follows the footsteps of Microsoft with SQL Server Express, and Oracle with Oracle 10g Express Edition.

Already the LAMP-based community is showing interest in using DB2. For example ActiveGrid has just released an edition of its front-end development tool and server software to work with DB2 Express-C. DB2 offers some exciting functionality not found in PostGres or MySQL, such as the ability to combine PHP with DB2's native XML capabilities.

PHP Collaboration Project

This is now old news, but late last year IBM joined forces with Oracle, MySQL, Intel, Actuate, ADP, FileMaker, Schematic, StepUp Commerce, OmniTI,, SugarCRM,, and Marco Tabini (publisher of PHP Architect Magazine) in the PHP Collaboration Project. The initial objectives of the project are:

  • Zend PHP Framework: A Web application framework which will standardize the way PHP applications are built. The framework will accelerate and improve the development and deployment of mission-critical PHP Web applications
  • Engagement with the Eclipse Foundation: Zend is joining the IBM founded Eclipse Foundation as a Strategic Developer. Zend is now proposing to lead a project focused on PHP within Eclipse


I for one am enjoying seeing IBM partnering with other companies and projects to help formalise the future of AJAX and a PHP Framework / toolset. I haven't decided about DB2 yet for my everyday projects – but I will be taking a look for sure.

ReactOS: A Free Replacement of Windows XP?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

ReactOS Logo

While this is project is only in Alpha it is something to keep an eye on. Here is a quote from the ReactOS site as to the goal of the project:

The ReactOS® project is dedicated to making Free Software available to everyone by providing a ground-up implementation of a Microsoft Windows® XP compatible operating system. ReactOS aims to achieve complete binary compatibility with both applications and device drivers meant for NT and XP operating systems, by using a similar architecture and providing a complete and equivalent public interface.

You can check out some screenshots of the operating system in action.

Here are some interesting comments from Wikipedia:

ReactOS is primarily written in C, with some elements like ReactOS Explorer, written in C++. Various components of ReactOS are licensed under the GNU General Public License, the GNU Lesser General Public License and/or the BSD License. To ensure that no part of the OS is tainted with leaked Microsoft code, a total source code audit has been ordered by the head developers of ReactOS.
. . .
This is expected to set the project back by a lot as it could take years to complete the audit and rewriting of affected parts of the source code. This audit was done by creating a new repository and copying code from the old repository as it is audited.

It seems like the project has been aptly named – there should be plenty of "reaction" to this from all quarters…

AjaxTK: The Ajax Toolkit from Zimbra

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

Zimbra LogoZimbra released the AjaxTK JavaScript development library last year. Running under the Mozilla Public License (MPL) developers can use this toolkit in their browser-based applications. The toolkit is actively used by Zimbra in developing the Zimbra Collaboration Suite, one of the most full-featured AJAX applications I have ever seen. Because of it's development in conjunction with a real-world application, and because of the number of widgets and JavaScript utilities included, AjaxTK may well be one of the most advanced JavaScript toolkits available at the moment.

There is a problem however – there is basically no documentation for using AjaxTK, other than an extremely technical overview of the framework in PDF format. There are currrently no online examples of the widgets being used (other than the demo of the Zimbra Collaboration Suite itself). And while you can download the toolkit from Zimbra, their examples are heavily tied into JSP which is a major problem for me because I have no intention of using JSP.

So – here is a small step toward helping the community to get started. Full credit goes to Xiris, Chouser, Zuser and especially Smies for their posts on the Zimbra AjaxTK Forums.

AjaxTK Tree ExampleZimbra AjaxTK Tree Example

open example here

This is a standard DHTML tree, but it also demonstrates Drag 'n' Drop and custom Tooltips. Try dragging a contact from the top branch onto the label of the second branch.

AjaxTK Grid ExampleZimbra AjaxTK Grid Example

open example here

This is an extremely full-featured example. It demonstrates tabs and a grid that has resizable columns, movable columns and column sorting. You can filter the listings on the left (which is fully client-side). And the grid listings are paginated, allowing you to open 3 pages of listings in the grid.

Download Examples and AjaxTK Library

The above examples and the full source code are available for download in a ZIP file (466kb). Once again, thanks to Smies for getting this working.


So … what do you think? How does this compare to other AJAX libraries in your opinion? To be fair to Zimbra, they have only fairly recently released this toolkit to the community and it is yet early days (like most AJAX projects). They have some very positive thoughts on what AJAX libraries should be able to acheive in the future, so hopefully this is an indication of where they will take AjaxTK…

If you liked this post you can digg it here.

Optimise your JavaScript and CSS

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

The Zimbra team have posted an article with some very interesting tips on how to optimise your Javascript and CSS so that you can reduce the launch time of your website or application. There are detailed explanations of the methods used and a case scenario demonstrating a reduction in file-size of around 300-400%. You may pick up some good tips here

It’s here: Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2

Wednesday, February 1st, 2006

Internet Explorer 7 Logo

Microsoft has released Beta 2 of the next version of Internet Explorer. This release is really aimed at developers/designers who want to test their current websites and web applications with the new software. Microsoft has posted checklists that can be used when testing the browser:

The browser is available for download right now. There is a list of FAQ's for the new release on the IEBlog website that you may want to read. Oh yes … and you need to have SP2 installed on Windows XP if you want to use IE7.

Go and have a play if you dare…