Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Linux on the desktop

Recently I performed some upgrades on my laptop and the sound broke once again. Sound has been flaky for a while now and I've had to use windows to use skype. This was a pretty useful tutorial which helped me sort out the issues -

But it got me thinking more about experience on Linux once again. Applications like OpenOffice, Gimp are inferior in usability to MS Office and Photoshop. Its painful when I need a newer version of software but the distro is older and so only an older version is available in the repo. Maybe its time to move back to Windows...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

An Overview of Spring

Spring is a very popular framework in the Java space and quickly becoming an alternative to JEE. Spring started of as an implementation of the ideas in the book "Expert One-on-One J2EE Design and Development" in 2002 by Rob Johnson. Today the project has grown into to a large framework with multiple modules to assist with different areas of serverside programming. Spring provides a lightweight container and uses POJOs. This makes code much simpler to reason about and also test. No starting a mega EJB container anymore with remoting when you don't really need it.

Inversion Of Control (IoC)
At its core, Spring is an IoC container. Generally at some point in code you use 'new' instances. If you are coding against an interface you end up with code like:

class Bar {
Foo foo;
void Bar() {
foo = new FooImpl();

Now the class Bar has a dependency on Foo and its implementation FooImpl. Now you could remove this dependency by using the ServiceLocator pattern but then you end up with a dependency to the ServiceLocator class and your code is not that testable anymore.
In Spring you instead inject the actual implementations at runtime and rules about which instances are to be returned are written in an XML configuration file (or via Annotations). So code becomes like:

class Bar {
Foo foo;
void Bar(Foo foo) { = foo;

with an instance of FooImpl being returned where Foo is expected. Now Bar depends only on the interface Foo but not the implementation of Foo which is simply passed to it. Hence the name Inversion of Control as Bar does not depend on FooImpl but gets it.

More importantly the code can be tested very easily. If I wanted to test the Bar class I can very easily provide a mock implementation of the Foo instance. Writing testable code is difficult and a major part of the problem is breaking dependencies. You should probably never need to new objects again but just get them injected.

In the above example Foo is set in the constructor. This is an example of a Constructor based injection. Another way to inject dependencies is via setter methods. However I prefer Constructor based injection as it allows for final fields which should be the default to help with immutability.

Another important idea is how instances are created. This is known as scopes. By default instances are created only once and that reference will be passed everywhere similar to a Singleton. So one FooImpl instance is created and passed wherever a Foo is needed. A lot of code can be written in a style where there is no local state allowing for Singletons. Again since the Singleton pattern is not explicitly needed, code remains testable. Another scope is prototype in which a new instance of FooImpl will be created whenever a Foo needs to be injected. For web programming other scopes like Request, Session and Application also exist.

The complete lifetime of instances can be managed and there are many other features but thats another post. If you just need an IoC container then there are alternatives like Google Guice.

Aspect Oriented Programming

AOP allows for crosscutting code to be written external to the main business logic. This allows cleaner code in areas like logging. The implementation of AOP in Spring is based on Proxy based interceptors which happen at runtime. AspectJ integration is also provided in some form.
One of the major uses of AOP is defining transactions which will be covered soon.

Data Access and Transaction management

Most serverside code needs to talk to a database. Spring provides neat abstractions over JDBC and other frameworks to simplify code to a great extent.

A DataSource is usually configured and injected.
JDBC code is wrapped with classes like the SimpleJdbcTemplate. Queries become like:

String daString = getSimpleJdbcTemplate().queryForObject(
"SELECT daString FROM DaStringTable WHERE daStringId = ?",
String.class, daStringId);

Thats one line of code for what would have been multiple lines of JDBC like getting a connection, then statement, then query and result parsing. And there are no SQLExceptions. All of those are wrapped into a DataAccessException instance which is a RuntimeException. Create a generic handler in your code for exceptions because thats what you'll mostly be interested in. You can easily provide mapper classes to map from db values to object instances for custom types. Also variations exist for returning mutiple rows and other SQL CRUD operations.
And I almost forgot to mention that there are also named parameters for queries.

Using Hibernate is even easier. Use HibernateTemplate instead and get access to a hibernate API. Or JPATemplate if you want to use JPA. All of this code is obviously going to be tucked under a DAO tier!

Transaction management is also dead simple with usage of Java annotations. You declare the Transaction rules for a method invocation like Isolation level (Read uncommitted, Read committed, Repeatable Read, Serializable), Propagation (Required, New), timeout and exceptions for rollback. An AOP proxy is created over the method which enforces the Transaction rules over the underlying datastore.


Built on the core IoC functionality Spring has a Web MVC framework as well. Like Struts it is a request or action based framework. The DispatcherServlet class is a FrontController and acts as the entry point to the MVC framework. Typically request URIs are mapped to Controller classes. Controllers compute the Model and then render a View based on the Model for the request. A general multi tier architecture for applications is another topic.

Even more

There are quite a few other projects under the Spring banner. WebFlow extends Web MVC for richer work flows in webapps. Spring WebServices for WebService (duh). Spring IDE is a bunch of Eclipse plugins to help with Spring development.

Spring Framework 3 is going to be released. It adds better Java 5 support across various APIs. There is also a lot of annotation usage.

The company and future

Spring started off as a simple open source project and has now morphed into a complete stack framework backed by a company.
The core framework helps building applications. Further they added Groovy language and Grails. Mostly spring apps need a web container like Tomcat or Jetty to run. SpringSource also provides a custom Tomcat build known as tcServer with additional capabilities. Another environment is the dmServer which adds OSGi capabilities. For management and diagnostics they have additional tools. All of these play together to provide a really strong stack against the usual JEE standard running in an application container.

VMWare bought SpringSource which means that soon Cloud-deployed apps based on Spring are going to be dead simple to make. This means that VMWare will now compete with the likes of Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure as well by providing virtualized application frameworks.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

List of countries and timezones

I'm pasting a csv file containing a list of timezone data of some of the cities from I was unable to find such a list and eventually had to do a lot of manual work. Do comment if there are any errors.

Afghanistan - Kabul,Asia/Kabul,Afghanistan Time,UTC/GMT +4:30
Algeria - Algiers,Africa/Algiers,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Argentina - Buenos Aires,America/Argentina/Buenos_Aires,Argentine Time,UTC/GMT -3:00
Australia - Australian Capital Territory - Canberra,Australia/Canberra,Eastern Standard Time (New South Wales),UTC/GMT +10:00
Australia - New South Wales - Sydney,Australia/Sydney,Eastern Standard Time (New South Wales),UTC/GMT +10:00
Australia - Northern Territory - Darwin,Australia/Darwin,Central Standard Time (Northern Territory),UTC/GMT +9:30
Australia - Queensland - Brisbane,Australia/Brisbane,Eastern Standard Time (Queensland),UTC/GMT +10:00
Australia - South Australia - Adelaide,Australia/Adelaide,Central Standard Time (South Australia),UTC/GMT +9:30
Australia - Victoria - Melbourne,Australia/Melbourne,Eastern Standard Time (Victoria),UTC/GMT +10:00
Australia - Western Australia - Perth,Australia/Perth,Western Standard Time (Australia),UTC/GMT +8:00
Austria - Vienna,Europe/Vienna,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Bahamas - Nassau,America/Nassau,Eastern Standard Time,UTC/GMT -5:00
Bangladesh - Dhaka,Asia/Dhaka,Bangladesh Time,UTC/GMT +6:00
Belarus - Minsk,Europe/Minsk,Eastern European Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
Belgium - Brussels,Europe/Brussels,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Bolivia - La Paz,America/La_Paz,Bolivia Time,UTC/GMT -4:00
Brazil - São Paulo - Sao Paulo,America/Sao_Paulo,Brasilia Time,UTC/GMT -3:00
Bulgaria - Sofia,Europe/Sofia,Eastern European Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
Canada - Alberta - Edmonton,America/Edmonton,Mountain Standard Time,UTC/GMT -7:00
Canada - British Columbia - Vancouver,America/Vancouver,Pacific Standard Time,UTC/GMT -8:00
Canada - Manitoba - Winnipeg,America/Winnipeg,Central Standard Time,UTC/GMT -6:00
Canada - Newfoundland and Labrador - St. John's,America/St_Johns,Newfoundland Standard Time,UTC/GMT -3:30
Canada - Nova Scotia - Halifax,America/Halifax,Atlantic Standard Time,UTC/GMT -4:00
Canada - Ontario - Toronto,America/Toronto,Eastern Standard Time,UTC/GMT -5:00
Canada - Quebec - Montreal,America/Montreal,Eastern Standard Time,UTC/GMT -5:00
Chile - Santiago,America/Santiago,Chile Time,UTC/GMT -4:00
China - Shanghai,Asia/Shanghai,China Standard Time,UTC/GMT +8:00
Colombia - Bogota,America/Bogota,Colombia Time,UTC/GMT -5:00
Croatia - Zagreb,Europe/Zagreb,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Cuba - Havana,America/Havana,Cuba Standard Time,UTC/GMT -5:00
Czech Republic - Prague,Europe/Prague,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Denmark - Copenhagen,Europe/Copenhagen,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Dominican Republic - Santo Domingo,America/Santo_Domingo,Atlantic Standard Time,UTC/GMT -4:00
Egypt - Cairo,Africa/Cairo,Eastern European Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
El Salvador - San Salvador,America/El_Salvador,Central Standard Time,UTC/GMT -6:00
Estonia - Tallinn,Europe/Tallinn,Eastern European Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
Ethiopia - Addis Ababa,Africa/Addis_Ababa,Eastern African Time,UTC/GMT +3:00
Fiji - Suva,Pacific/Fiji,Fiji Time,UTC/GMT +12:00
Finland - Helsinki,Europe/Helsinki,Eastern European Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
France - Paris,Europe/Paris,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Germany - Berlin - Berlin,Europe/Berlin,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Greece - Athens,Europe/Athens,Eastern European Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
Guatemala - Guatemala,America/Guatemala,Central Standard Time,UTC/GMT -6:00
Honduras - Tegucigalpa,America/Tegucigalpa,Central Standard Time,UTC/GMT -6:00
Hong Kong - Hong Kong,Asia/Hong_Kong,Hong Kong Time,UTC/GMT +8:00
Hungary - Budapest,Europe/Budapest,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Iceland - Reykjavik,Atlantic/Reykjavik,Greenwich Mean Time,UTC/GMT +0:00
India - Delhi - New Delhi,Asia/Kolkata,India Standard Time,UTC/GMT +5:30
India - Maharashtra - Mumbai,Asia/Kolkata,India Standard Time,UTC/GMT +5:30
India - West Bengal - Kolkata,Asia/Kolkata,India Standard Time,UTC/GMT +5:30
Indonesia - Java - Jakarta,Asia/Jakarta,West Indonesia Time,UTC/GMT +7:00
Iran - Tehran,Asia/Tehran,Iran Standard Time,UTC/GMT +3:30
Iraq - Baghdad,Asia/Baghdad,Arabia Standard Time,UTC/GMT +3:00
Ireland - Dublin,Europe/Dublin,Greenwich Mean Time,UTC/GMT +0:00
Israel - Jerusalem,Asia/Jerusalem,Israel Standard Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
Italy - Rome,Europe/Rome,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Jamaica - Kingston,America/Jamaica,Eastern Standard Time,UTC/GMT -5:00
Japan - Tokyo,Asia/Tokyo,Japan Standard Time,UTC/GMT +9:00
Jordan - Amman,Asia/Amman,Eastern European Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
Kazakstan - Almaty,Asia/Almaty,Alma-Ata Time,UTC/GMT +6:00
Kenya - Nairobi,Africa/Nairobi,Eastern African Time,UTC/GMT +3:00
Kiribati - Christmas Island - Kiritimati,Pacific/Kiritimati,Line Is. Time,UTC/GMT +14:00
Kuwait - Kuwait City,Asia/Kuwait,Arabia Standard Time,UTC/GMT +3:00
Lebanon - Beirut,Asia/Beirut,Eastern European Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
Madagascar - Antananarivo,Indian/Antananarivo,Eastern African Time,UTC/GMT +3:00
Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur,Asia/Kuala_Lumpur,Malaysia Time,UTC/GMT +8:00
Mexico - Federal District - Mexico City,America/Mexico_City,Central Standard Time,UTC/GMT -6:00
Morocco - Casablanca,Africa/Casablanca,Western European Time,UTC/GMT +0:00
Myanmar - Yangon,Asia/Rangoon,Myanmar Time,UTC/GMT +6:30
Nepal - Kathmandu,Asia/Kathmandu,GMT+05:45,UTC/GMT +5:45
Netherlands - Amsterdam,Europe/Amsterdam,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
New Zealand - Auckland,Pacific/Auckland,New Zealand Standard Time,UTC/GMT +12:00
New Zealand - Chatham Islands,Pacific/Chatham,Chatham Standard Time,UTC/GMT +12:45
Nicaragua - Managua,America/Managua,Central Standard Time,UTC/GMT -6:00
Nigeria - Lagos,Africa/Lagos,Western African Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Norway - Oslo,Europe/Oslo,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Pakistan - Karachi,Asia/Karachi,Pakistan Time,UTC/GMT +5:00
Paraguay - Asuncion,America/Asuncion,Paraguay Time,UTC/GMT -4:00
Peru - Lima - Lima,America/Lima,Peru Time,UTC/GMT -5:00
Philippines - Manila,Asia/Manila,Philippines Time,UTC/GMT +8:00
Poland - Warsaw,Europe/Warsaw,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Portugal - Lisbon,Europe/Lisbon,Western European Time,UTC/GMT +0:00
Puerto Rico - San Juan,America/Argentina/San_Juan,Argentine Time,UTC/GMT -3:00
Romania - Bucharest,Europe/Bucharest,Eastern European Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
Russia - Anadyr,Asia/Anadyr,Anadyr Time,UTC/GMT +12:00
Russia - Kamchatka,Asia/Kamchatka,Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski Time,UTC/GMT +12:00
Russia - Moscow,Europe/Moscow,Moscow Standard Time,UTC/GMT +3:00
Russia - Vladivostok,Asia/Vladivostok,Vladivostok Time,UTC/GMT +10:00
Saudi Arabia - Riyadh,Asia/Riyadh,Arabia Standard Time,UTC/GMT +3:00
Serbia - Belgrade,Europe/Belgrade,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Singapore - Singapore,Asia/Singapore,Singapore Time,UTC/GMT +8:00
South Africa - Johannesburg,Africa/Johannesburg,South Africa Standard Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
South Korea - Seoul,Asia/Seoul,Korea Standard Time,UTC/GMT +9:00
Spain - Madrid,Europe/Madrid,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Sudan - Khartoum,Africa/Khartoum,Eastern African Time,UTC/GMT +3:00
Sweden - Stockholm,Europe/Stockholm,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Switzerland - Zurich,Europe/Zurich,Central European Time,UTC/GMT +1:00
Taiwan - Taipei,Asia/Taipei,China Standard Time,UTC/GMT +8:00
Thailand - Bangkok,Asia/Bangkok,Indochina Time,UTC/GMT +7:00
Turkey - Ankara,Turkey,Eastern European Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
Turkey - Istanbul,Turkey,Eastern European Time,UTC/GMT +2:00
U.K. - England - London,Europe/London,Greenwich Mean Time,UTC/GMT +0:00
United Arab Emirates - Dubai - Dubai,Asia/Dubai,Gulf Standard Time,UTC/GMT +4:00
Uruguay - Montevideo,America/Montevideo,Uruguay Time,UTC/GMT -3:00
U.S.A. - Alaska - Anchorage,America/Anchorage,Alaska Standard Time,UTC/GMT -9:00
U.S.A. - California - Los Angeles,America/Los_Angeles,Pacific Standard Time,UTC/GMT -8:00
U.S.A. - Colorado - Denver,America/Denver,Mountain Standard Time,UTC/GMT -7:00
U.S.A. - Hawaii - Honolulu,Pacific/Honolulu,Hawaii Standard Time,UTC/GMT -10:00
U.S.A. - Illinois - Chicago,America/Chicago,Central Standard Time,UTC/GMT -6:00
U.S.A. - Michigan - Detroit,America/Detroit,Eastern Standard Time,UTC/GMT -5:00
U.S.A. - New York - New York,America/New_York,Eastern Standard Time,UTC/GMT -5:00
Uzbekistan - Tashkent,Asia/Tashkent,Uzbekistan Time,UTC/GMT +5:00
Venezuela - Caracas,America/Caracas,Venezuela Time,UTC/GMT -4:30
Vietnam - Hanoi,Asia/Vientiane,Indochina Time,UTC/GMT +7:00
Yemen - Aden,Asia/Aden,Arabia Standard Time,UTC/GMT +3:00
Zimbabwe - Harare,Africa/Harare,Central African Time,UTC/GMT +2:00

Friday, August 07, 2009


I had an opportunity to look into Flex a few weeks back. I've been mostly focused on Swing last couple of years and before that was fairly involved with web development (pre-ajax). So it's been a nice exercise to investigate what it offers and compare and contrast.

Flex has a good out of the box widget set, similar to Swing. One of its major strengths is its UI designer - no real surprise there, given it grew out of flash. Actionscript, the ECMAScript compliant language, tries to be dynamic with optional static typing. This can be useful, especially during at development time with code completion. Debugging can be a challenge though, especially the mix between actionscript and mxml. End up falling back on Alerts which isn't the greatest thing (more so given that they don't block and you can end up with a flurry of alert boxes). I also found that there are multiple ways to do the same thing. This can be quite confusing especially when looking at samples on the web. You don't really know which is the best way or why. One other small thing - event names don't follow "on[event_name]" convention... it's very easy to confuse them with attributes in mxml. Overall, there's a big similarity with the html/js/css style of development - mxml/as/css.

Flex demos really well. For creating small simple apps involving fetching data from a remote data source and rendering it, it is probably unrivaled from a productivity perspective. Drag a datagrid onto the canvas, construct an http service and attach a result event handler to bind the result to the datagrid. Simple. Done. I think the 'Bindable' attribute is a big part of why Flex is so successful for these types of apps. It takes care of all that plumbing of syncing model with view. It's interesting to note that JavaFX has introduced the 'bind' keyword in JavaFX Script.

Most of what I've come across - articles/examples deal with small apps. I'm interested in how development in Flex would scale. It can be double edged sword. Given that it is so simple to just drag/drop and attach handlers, I would think it would require more discipline and good coding practices. It would be all too easy to keep doing this all over without really giving much thought to overall design and code hygiene. I don't particularly like the script tag in the MXML file. There should've been strict separation between the .mxml file and the .as file. I understand this was probably done to emulate the html/js model but why not force the separation as with separate .js files.

Running a fairly complicated app - like TourDeFlex which chronicles the wonders of the various flex widgets - sucks up a lot of resources. Usability suffers. The experience feels sluggish. A similarly "heavy" "ajaxy" app doesn't. What's worse is that on more than one occasion, the browser has crashed running that demo. It's no surprise I haven't seen full fledged flex apps out on the 'open web'. Enterprises can, and have, embraced it since they can dictate the environment.

There's a lot of revival in interest in web standards. Just as Adobe has AIR, Microsoft has Silverlight and Sun/Oracle has JavaFX, Google is embracing and evangelizing open web standards - HTML5/CSS/Javascript - as their RIA platform. GWT is the browser independent development platform with generated Javascript as the bytecode. I've started playing around with GWT recently and am quite impressed with its abilities - especially the development environment/cycle. Version 2.0 promises more useful features.

It'll be interesting to see where these platforms end up 3-4 years from now.

Friday, July 24, 2009

TurboStringMap for Gwt

In my previous post I did mention that Gwt has the basic Java collections emulated in Javascript. In the browser such rich interfaces may not be needed. There is a lightweight Map implementation where the keys are constrained to String types only called FastStringMap. It is directly backed by a Js array. Want to go even lighter then here is the derived TurboStringMap which even a thinner API over a Js array to act like a Map.

The rest of the this post is Gwt Java code-



class TurboStringMap {

* Accesses need to be prefixed with ':' to prevent conflict with built-in
* JavaScript properties.
private JavaScriptObject map;

public TurboStringMap() {

public void clear() {

private native void init() /*-{ = {};

// Prepend ':' to avoid conflicts with built-in Object properties.
public native T get(String key) /*-{
return[':' + key];

// Prepend ':' to avoid conflicts with built-in Object properties.
public native T put(String key, T value) /*-{
key = ':' + key;
var map =;
var previous = map[key];
map[key] = value;
return previous;

// Prepend ':' to avoid conflicts with built-in Object properties.
public native T remove(String key) /*-{
key = ':' + key;
var map =;
var previous = map[key];
delete map[key];
return previous;

// only count keys with ':' prefix
public native int size() /*-{
var value =;
var count = 0;
for(var key in value) {
if (key.charAt(0) == ':') ++count;
return count;

public boolean isEmpty() {
return size() == 0;

public native String[] keys() /*-{
var value =;
var keys = [];
for(var key in value) {
return keys;

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


I've been working with Gwt since a while and in this post will dump some of my learnings

What is Gwt
Gwt is a toolkit primarily to enable writing webapps in Java which will then be cross compiled into plain Javascript and Html. The core is based on this java to javascript compiler. Additionally they have libraries for purposes like web gui creation, dom manipulation, json and xml parsing, RPC calls with java server support and also unit testing. The Gwt guys are seem pretty obsessed with performance so a lot of the design choices are based on this.

To code in Gwt you use your standard Java tools. This is a great advantage as you get great tool/ide support and java's static checking for code. Java generics are also supported. To create UIs a SWT-like library has been created which can be used. The library contains both Widget classes for common controls as well as layout classes for positioning. There are some quirks which you have to be aware of but thats true for almost any new platform. The layout library is one of the first reasons which got me to Gwt as I was (and still am) simply too scared to use CSS for managing a layout. Using the UI libraries for building interfaces is a bit painful in Java just as it is in Swing and Swt. But more importantly it does not translate to the best Html/Css layout code. For example to place child elements horizontally next to each other you can use the HorizontalPanel and add elements to this. Now when this code is cross compiled the HorizontalPanel is converted to a Html table with a single tr and all the child elements will be placed in td elements. Which depending on your style may not look that good. In the next version of Gwt a new UI Binder feature is going to be added. This will allow declaring the UI in an XML format and then writing the actual event handlers in Java. I guess a lot of UI frameworks are moving to this style which really does make sense in this domain. Also the code generated may be closer to the layout code you would have written by hand (if you knew CSS). You can also create your own Widgets and Panels if you want to. I also almost forgot to mention that you have access to a subset of the Java library. The API can be read here. Basic java.lang and other important packages like some collections are supported.

Now that you have written some Java code you compile it by using the GwtCompiler which can be invoked by an ant task. You get a whole bunch of files into your dist folder. Now these are plain html, js and css files. You dont need any Java support in your webserver to run these. Gwt will generate separate optimized files for each browser supported. A client using IE7 will get a file separate from a FF client and each file will manage the quirks of that browser. So a client downloads almost only what is needed. I lied a bit in this process though. When the browser first hits the entry point html file special js code will decide what browser is running the code. After that the client code for that browser is then loaded in another Http request. Search for more on deferred binding to learn more. Importantly most of the code generated can be cached with long expiration headers.

The Gwt compiler essentially compiles Java (source code) to Js. But from where does it get the java.lang and other code of the standard library? The Gwt team has re-written supported Java libraries in a more Js friendly fashion. The String class is based on a normal Js string but the extended Java API for the string class is supported. Similarly the ArrayList class is not something that Bloch wrote but a simpler Js friendly version. Just like the layout code generated some of this is overkill for Js. You dont really need the whole Collections API most of the time. You dont need the whole class hierarchy. Like I just needed a lame Map implementation with put and get and nothing else. And since some part of the Gwt library may use the collections in some way you end up using them anyways. See my bug for an extended rant

Atleast one compiler optimization has to mentioned at this point - dead code elimination. For example if you dont use the substing method in the String class.. that method will not be compiled to Js. Additionally Js code is minified and obfuscated which greatly helps in reduction of download size.

Where should you use GWT
Gwt is great for Ajax apps like Gmail, Google calendar etc. As a Java developer I dont think I could do better/faster had I been coding Js/Html for Onyem. There are deficiencies right now but things are improving and are already optimized enough.
I would not still recommend Gwt in sites that have a lot content like news sites or sites where you just want a small widget in one corner. Use jquery or yui for that.
Also there can be no substitute for knowing CSS and also how to build websites. With a desktop mindset you will end up just bulding really slow apps.

More Features
These may come in some other post-
Hosted mode to OOPHM
Async pattern
Deferred binding
More Compiler optimizations

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Open Source is Magic

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Monday, June 01, 2009


In relation with normal human behaviour I am "anti-social". Personally I know I am just different-social which is great for me.

I've been emailing a few people of late whom I don't know that well. And shockingly those gmail contacts started popping up in my gtalk list. The reason was gmails default setting of over-friendly behaviour. If you want more privacy then you need to disable the "Auto-add suggested contacts" feature in chat as described in this help page

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ubuntu Remixed

I upgraded to Jaunty Jackalope (9.04) over the weekend. Technically it wasn't an upgrade, rather a clean install. My setup makes it convenient to do this... I have three partitions - Windows, Ubuntu and DATA which contains all my docs/pics/music/movies. I tend to skip every other release and when I do want to "upgrade", I just back up my home directory (which is on the Ubuntu partition) to DATA and do a clean install.

Way back in Oct 2006, I wrote about my first foray into the Ubuntu universe. Two and a half years and five releases later it's thrilling to see how far its come and how much better the experience has gotten on that same machine. All issues listed in that post are virtually non-existent. One of Jaunty's specific goals was improving startup time and they delivered superbly... < 25 seconds on my laptop. I like the consistent new notification system as well. With every new release, it gets more and more polished.

Anyway, I thought I'd list the steps I take to get my setup going after every clean install...
  • backup home directory: cp -R /home/mohnish /media/data/mohnish
  • clean install
  • install updates
  • restore home directory: cp -R /media/data/mohnish /home/mohnish
  • create sym links in home directory to media on DATA:
    - ln -s /media/data/Docs Docs
    - ln -s /media/data/Music Music
    - ln -s /media/data/Pics Pics
  • install apps
    - media codecs (audio/video playback, java, flash): apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
    - gnome do ('crazy delicious' once you're used to it): apt-get install gnome-do gnome-do-plugins
    - listen (music during setup is essential): apt-get install listen
    - opera (small, wicked fast and built-in mouse gestures... the best browser out there): grab .deb package from
    - skype (convenient, saves money for cheapies like me): grab .deb package from
    - vlc (the 'everything' media player): apt-get install vlc
    - picasa (organize pics with nice web album integration): grab .deb package from goog
    - googleearth (spy on your neighbourhood) - grab .bin file from goog
    - gnomad2 (organize music on creative nomads/zens): apt-get install gnomad2
    - sopcast-player (for those 5am Liverpool footy matches (with chinese commentary)): grab .deb package from goog code
    - miro (get some gyan): apt-get install miro
All this noise about "apps stores" lately... the linux distro repos are the orignial and ultimate app store aren't they? Moreover, all the app settings are in my restored home directory. So they start up like nothing's changed... firefox/opera with their last sessions, miro with the same feed list, skype with my account.

I happened to have access to an Asus Eee 700 netbook. It comes with Xandros linux with a weird Windows XP like look and limited functionality ("basic mode" with no access to the terminal/can't install any app (only certain pre-selected ones)/etc...). Ubuntu Remix targets these types of netbooks. It's a full ubuntu system with added packages for the UI specifically tuned for small screen sizes.

With no cd/dvd drive, the way to install it is via a bootable usb drive which can easily be created using usb-imagewriter. The installation process is the same good ol ubuntu wizard. It ended up sucking up ~2.5 gb of the 4gb harddisk. There are things to tune/optimize which should reclaim some of that space as well as speed things up. For now, I'm just happy to get a chance to play around with it :)