Monthly Archives: October 2005

The Web Form Blues

My current job title is “Web Developer.” I develop web applications, and I generally enjoy it quite a bit. But the applications that I work with on a daily basis tend to include forms. Yuck. We have talked about it time and again in the office, and I have scoured the web for an elegent way to deal with them.

We’ve tried Pear’s QuickForm package, and it’s okay for simple forms, but having full control over each element just isn’t possible. QuickForm takes the approch of generating the markup and adding validation rules with php code. That is you never write html when creating such a form, it does it for you. Sometimes you really just need to write you own markup.

A while back I came across this article that outlined a pretty neat way to deal with it. I really like the idea of including the rules in the markup and have php use those rules to validate the form. This particular implemenation adds a bunch of tags and elements in the html, which just doesn’t sit right with me.

So what if we could use completely standard markup, yet still include these validation rules in it. If only there was a language that described forms this richly… Enter XForms. XForms has all that built in. What if we could write an XForm, have php (or your language of choice) parse it AND use the built in rules to validate it on submit? For now, we’d have to have php spit out old-style html forms that correspond to the structure in the XForm… but we’d be ready for the future, and someday we’d be able to take out that part and just send the XForm.

I think I’ll familiarize myself a bit more with the XForms recomendations and outline a library to do this. Thoughts?

Bloglines' new features

I use to read rss feeds. I periodically look around to see if there is something better, but I have yet to find one. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some things I would like to see in a reader. Just recently, I was wishing there were keyboard shortcuts to navigate my many folders of feeds. And, alas, this morning I noticed this at the bottom of the list of articles:

Hotkeys: j - next article k - previous article s - next sub f - next folder A - read all r - refresh left pane

It’s not huge news, but It makes my life a touch easier, and will help the batteries in my cordless optical mouse last longer :)

Autumn Sky

I was up (way too) late last night. Shortly after midnight, I stepped outside to let Ella in. It was a really beautiful and cool night, and the sky was very clear. So, I went inside, turned off all the lights (to let my eyes adjust), and fired up stellerium to see what interesting stuff I should look for.

Mars was high in the East and very vibrant. Right next to Mars was the The Pleiades that I’ve always thought were stunning. Both of these are in Taurus, which I’ve never really noticed because it’s not one of the easier ones to pick out. So I decided to find it. Upon doing so I noticed that on one side of his head, there are two stars (turned out to be 77 and 78 Tau) that are so close that I could barely tell it was two with my naked eye.

The summer triangle was just about to disappear below the western horizon, and Orion, the most famous winter constellation, had just risen in the East, and I think I could make out part of Gemini (but they had Vaught-Hemingway‘s lights on, so that part of the sky was flooded with light pollution) coming up. Cassiopeia was almost directly overhead.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken my telescope out, and this is the perfect time of year to hang out outside for long periods of time at night. I’m planning to do that tonight. If your skies are clear and unpolluted, step outside tonight and stand in awe of the universe