Online Video Strategy

November 25, 2007

Brightcove released a free whitepaper about internet TV. Five keys to success with Internet TV describes how web media properties can create an online video strategy and stay competitive. Pity its hidden deep inside the site as it makes great reading.

How Javascript won the war

November 6, 2007

Just in case you thought that real men don’t program in javascript, comes an interesting overview in the Journal of Object Technology from Dave Thomas – the creator of the Eclipse IDE Platform. His basic thesis – look out for the next OS to be a webOS, one which can be developed in java or C# and exported or compiled as JS.

There are numerous JS UI frameworks which enable developers to “target” JS in the browser for delivering applications including Google Web Toolkit (GWT), Yahoo Widgets and various Ajax frameworks. A more ambitious approach is used by Morfik’s JST, which compiles applications developed using their UI builder and Basic, C#, Java or Pascal into JS Ajax.

A similar project, JSC is an experimental project to compile C# to JS.

Unfortunately, JS is not without its problems, one of which is the security risk exposed in XMLHTTP and JS/DOM interactions. These problems are due more to the DOM and Browser however. The Browser in particular is larger than many operating systems!

But surely no one would seriously consider compiling real applications to a native JS Platform. You clearly can’t do that with JavaScript! Well, if you have not been watching your RSS feed you need to read about the bleeding edge research at Sun Labs and Microsoft Live Labs.

Microsoft Live Labs Volta research project led by Erik Meijer, the father of LINQ, compiles MSIL to JS. The main goal of the Microsoft Live Labs Volta experiment is to delay irreversible decisions when building Web 2.0 applications until the last possible responsible moment. Volta allows today’s MS tools such as Visual Studio, C# and Visual Basic and applications to leap into the browser and cross platforms with zero deployment cost, optimizing for whichever execution environment (JavaScript, Silverlight) is already available on the client. Volta explores simple ways to build applications which span the internet cloud from user to data source using declarative tier-splitting refactoring.

Sun Lively is billed as a WebOS in JS. Lively leverages the impressive Squeak Morphic graphic framework to deliver applications on a JS + SVG platform. Lively is inspired by Dan Ingall’s work on Smalltalk and Squeak and no doubt by Dave Ungar’s work on Self. It provides an open, live programming experience in which the running code can be edited on the fly. The use of vector graphics enables rich new UIs that go beyond classical widgets. This brings to mind Sun NeWs, which pioneered the use of programmable vector graphics based UIs using Display Postcript and was used heavily in NextStep.

Luke Wroblewski has been doing some research for his new book, Web Form Design Best Practices, through actual usage data. To that end, he has been working with Etre on several eye-tracking and usability studies focused on specific aspects of Web form design.

You can read more about here. What I did find interesting about the research was that form B (shown below) had the least fixations and the best visual distinction, while still giving equal weight to the primary and secondary actions.

Form B

As expected Form E did the worst of the lot.

“…Only Option E performed poorly during our testing. Six people mistakenly clicked on the “Cancel” button when attempting the task with this design, while many more lingered over it before realizing that they were about to make a mistake. People, as a whole, were around six seconds slower when using this design than they were when using Option B (a considerable gap when you consider that the placement of the buttons was the only thing that differed between the two). They also required a higher than average number of fixations to complete the task (with a higher than average total fixation length and average fixation length)…”

Form F

Which pretty much tells me that we should be forms the way we always have.

Getting Real

August 20, 2007

Not too many updates lately, I have been busy completing assignments for my MSc, a lot of it tedious reading through methodologies that should have been left in 2005 where they belong. Still its good to see where today’s methodologies come from or have arisen in opposition to.

I was reading through my system engineering coursework this weekend (has the waterfall life cycle ever worked for anyone?) and having just finished reading 37Signals‘ Getting Real, which should have been subtitled a smaller, faster, better way to build software, I got to thinking about how software itself, the kind of software that we actually build has changed. Ok, so I actually had this thought before and wrote The Six Laws of the New Software about it, and despite the fact that we are now building smaller software that integrates with existing software more than enterprise applications we are still propagating the waterfall life cycle methodology.

Anyway, Getting Real is now available online. All 16 chapters and 91 essays that make up the book available for free. It makes for easy reading and is essential if you’re going to be developing an online application. If you don’t know who 37Signals are, have a look at basecamp or highrise.

Convio has had Convio Widgets and Personal Outreach Pages for a while now, but today they announced their Convio Personal Events,

“… a comprehensive online application designed to help individual supporters or members of nonprofit organizations, associations, institutions of higher education or faith-based organizations host and market personal events around a cause, theme or campaign…”

When the big names start getting into widget fundraising and personal events we are starting to look at a massive movement towards decentralizing the organizational website. Instead of having a single ‘official’ landing page, Convio is driving the trend towards having hundreds of smaller widgets – a kind of the best people to raise money/awareness are your donors, so lets give them the tools to do it philosophy. I predict that this type of decentralization is going to be the trend that drives fundraising and philanthropy into the next stage.

By seeing each constituent as a node in a network rather than a part of an organization, group fundraising helps you tap the knowledge, enthusiasm, and the peer network of people already giving to your cause. Its the wisdom of individuals in a crowd, applied to outreach.

Hi – please vote for my manifesto on changethis.com. Its pretty much a guide on how to use crowds to help you raise funds online.

Those of you that have been following this blog, and its predecessor ikissnoise for a while, will know that I have been a big fan of LinkedIn as a social network for business people. They do seem to be lagging behind the rest of the social networking crowd in terms of features. A recent announcement that they will be releasing an API within the next 9 months has been met with some criticism that it is too little too late.

So what other strategies are open to someone who has seemingly missed the API bus? Jeremiah Owyang recently posted some interesting thoughts on his blog.

One key feature I see that LinkedIn from benefiting is to become the online source of the resume, not just the networks that are connected to the jobs. Help users to answer; “what skills have I learned, who else has them, where can I find others with these skills”. There’s an opportunity to expand the tool as the online resume.

If LinkedIn is to become the premiere social networking tool for businesses (as stated in this article) then they need to consider joining all the communities that existing in the context of business. If I were working at LinkedIn, I would be pushing an API to Facebook quickly and also universal login that web managers could integrate into their site. This identity systems could feed into recruiting systems, monster.com and even the ‘career’ pages on corporate websites –let me fill out my core information (or different versions of it) once and submit to many. It’s an API really, and would actually be a competitor to some identity management systems, almost like OpenID.

I believe that if LinkedIn doesn’t open an API sooner than 9 months, they may be falling back further than they think. Although the hResume move was interesting strategically as hResume has not been widely adopted yet.