Mmmm Code Snippets

Code Snippets is an online resource, providing a central user-writable repository for chunks of reusable code. A stroll through the language-agnostic site provides a plethora of tasty bits and bytes from many programming languages and frameworks. Each snippet can be tagged and each tag can be followed via RSS. Users can comment on snippets as well, which is invaluable for anyone deciding whether or not they want to try out a piece of code.

Screenscraping the Senate

XML.com has a great series about a guy who plans to “collect as much data on the U.S. government” so he can build “a site and a web service that make it possible to explore that data”. The first installment is available: Screenscraping the Senate. This is extremely exciting, as it has the potential to re-introduce public oversight, or at the least involvement in the dealings of our elected representatives, much like the project They Work for You does in the UK.

This is a very detailed article, dealing with advanced Web development techniques, so it may not be of interest to most people, but its results should be of interest to a wide population. Then again, perhaps I have unreal expectations that people do/will care about the direction of their government. Oh well, I’m excited.

Document Organization

Rebuilding this front page in XML requires much more planning than I had expected (and I’m still in the early chapters of the book). At this point my brain is coping with this new way of thinking about pages, and more importantly the way they are built. As I define the tags to be used and the actual structure of the information (as opposed to the visual layout) I feel a small rush of freedom.

Sams Teach Yourself XML in 21 Days

I’ve had this book for more than a year. Shortly after purchasing it my work-life got slammed (one of two company rebranding efforts) and I had to set the book aside. As noted in a previous post, I have decided t solidify my knowledge of XML, and as this is the only book (of the five) I have which starts from the beginning, I picked it up once more.

So far it has been easy going, I completed the first three “days” yesterday and feel that I have a decent grasp on the fundamentals covered. The Sams “Teach yourself…” series seems to be pretty reliable and easy to stick with for the most part, thus encouraging me to follow the lesson plan instead of skipping ahead, which I have a tendency to do.

The author relies a little too much on future learning for my tastes, (often stating “in future chapters you will learn…”) which is fine in small doses, but it crops up a bit too often.

All in all I’m happy with the book and I’m looking forward to the in-depth lessons to come.

XML & XSL

Well, as I have a pretty solid hold of XHTML, I think it’s time to focus once more on XML and it’s companion XSL. In addition to learning the language itself, I have a couple of projects which I will be creating to reinforce the lessons.

An alternate version of this site (and perhaps my other ones as well) should be challenging as I will have to wrangle with layout issues, markup issues and information architecture. It will also encourage me to learn more about the interactions of PHP and XML.

A Flash app which pulls XML docs as a new interface for Apocalyptic Dreaming. This should turn up some interesting challenges as well.

I have a number of books about XML, most of which were given to me; I’ll post info about each in the next few days as time allows.