Category Archives

9 Articles

Google OpenSocial API

by Mick 1 Comment

Rumours and chatter abound about a recent move by Google to release a system for developers called OpenSocial, a new, open, Web API.

There is an in-depth article by Marc Andreessen on his blog at

and further discussion on

In essence, Google appear to be presenting a set of common APIs for building social applications across the web. OpenSocial is aiming to provide the framework that will enable developers to develop social applications which can be used on any web-site or social network that supports the OpenSocial standard.

Although there has been no official Press Release to date you can view an article containing an unofficial notice at John Battelles Searchblog

Looks as though a formal announcement from Google will be made in the next day or so.

It may be worth noting mention of the web address (ready for when it becomes available - currently its not live)

On-Line Intelligent Image Resizing

by Mick 0 Comments

rsizr is a flash-based web application that allows you to resize images.

It is a free on-line service that uses seam carving to allow you to change the size of an image without distorting areas of interest.

Simply upload an image file (JPG, PNG or GIF) which must be less than 2880 pixels in width or height.

and you're good to go

When you're finished you can save a copy of your edited image on your computer.

Full documentation is available at

P.S. I wrote an earlier article about seam carving and you can read all about it at:

Windows Live ID - Web Authentication

by Mick 0 Comments

The Windows Live ID Service is the identity and authentication mechanism provided by Windows Live. Currently there are over 380,000,000 users that have Windows Live ID credentials.

Mentioned during a session at the recent MixUK, the Windows Live ID Web Authentication 1.0 SDK provides an easy-to-use authentication system that allows that allows the Windows Live ID service to verify the identity of visitors to a Web site. One advantage of this approach is that a user doesn't have to use separate login mechanisms for each site that they visit.

Windows Live ID provides you with a unique, site-specific identifier for each Windows Live user who signs in to your site. Web Authentication also enables you to incorporate Windows Live controls into your site.

Web Authentication works by sending your users to the Windows Live ID sign-in page by means of a specially formatted link. The service then directs them back to your Web site along with a unique, site-specific identifier that you can use to manage personalized content, assign user rights, and perform other tasks for the authenticated user.

Sign-in and account management is performed by Windows Live ID, so you don't have to worry about implementing these details. Windows Live ID profile data is not shared with your site.

Full details about the Windows Live ID SDK is available from the Microsoft MSDN web-site at:

In general, the tasks required when implementing Web Authentication include:

  • Register the application
  • Display the Sign In link on the web-page
  • Decrypt the token returned by Window Live ID to obtain the users unique identifier
  • Manage personalized content and settings for your user, based on the site's security policies
  • Sign the user out

The best place to start is by obtaining one of the sample applications which are provided in a number of different languages including:

  • ASP.NET (c#)
  • Java
  • Perl
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Ruby

These samples can be obtained from:

and here's the python sample in action

Python Sample

In addition to making sure I had the correct version of python (2.5) installed on my server !! I found it necessary to install the Python Cryptography Toolkit which I obtained from

To implement Windows Live ID, you must register your Web site with Microsoft® as an application and receive an application ID for use with the service.

This is straightforward to do from the Windows Live ID Application page at

Get an Application ID

You need to enter the following details

The application name is a unique and friendly name that you use to refer to your application.

The return URL is the URL of the page on your Web site to which the Windows Live ID authentication service redirects users (along with the authentication token) after they have successfully signed in, signed out, or cleared their cookies. You must create a page on your site corresponding to the return URL, to handle the response from the authentication service

The secret key is a shared secret between you and Windows Live ID. Windows Live ID uses this key to encrypt and sign all tokens that it sends to your site. You should choose a secret key that is difficult to guess and create security procedures to manage this key.

and you're all set - the application ID you get is a 16-character string that represents your application which you'll use later.

To test out the system, I simply extended the python sample to run from a web-site (which I specified when registering the application) and needed to change the Application-Key.xml file which was supplied as part of the python sample, with details of my registered application.

In summary, I found it quick and easy to set up a simple test application using the Window Live ID Web authentication process which I can use in the future across my collection of web-sites as a single mechanism for user authentication.

As mentioned earlier in-depth information is available directly from Microsoft at


by Mick 0 Comments

Apollo from Adobe Labs.

What is Apollo?

Apollo is a cross-OS runtime that allows developers to leverage their existing web development skills (Flash, Flex, HTML, Ajax) to build and deploy desktop Rich Internet Applications (RIA’s).


HERE is a document containing more detail - a presentation by Mike Chambers of Adobe Systems

You can also read the Apollo FAQ from Adobe Labs.

An article in PDFZone quotes PDF consultant and former Acrobat team member Leonard Rosenthol:

'I think there's a current class of applications that currently are Web-hosted—anything from Google Maps to Yahoo Finance to a totally Flash-based e-mail client I've seen, with all the functionality of Outlook—those are all hosted in your Web browser, and they are restricted by it,' Rosenthol said. 'But if you could take all those same capabilities and have it act just like the real Outlook and make it double-clickable on the desktop, it's a better end-user experience. But it [appeals] only to a certain class of developers.'

Apollo is targeted for a pre-release version on Adobe Labs in early 2007 and Adobe is aiming for the first half of 2007 for a full-release.

AJAX based CAD

by Mick 0 Comments

AfterCAD Software Inc recently claimed to have introduced the First True AJAX based CAD application.

AfterCAD InSite is a server application that organizes and serves CAD drawings to anyone with a web browser.

InSite serves up 2D and 3D CAD data in the same way that Google Map data is served to users.

The software reads the CAD data and converts it into raster tiles, viewing the drawing (in a Web browser) simply displays the tiles. The need for a multitude of plugins for viewing the CAD data (which could be in a variety of formats) is eliminated and the user can zoom and pan about the image from their Web browser.(I guess this is a good approach for viewing images on mobile phones and other small handheld devices)

The company have applied for a patent on the technology, which is not restricted to CAD data and could be applied to any raster image.


by Mick 0 Comments

View22's Web-based CAD

Can CAD software run in a Web browser? At last year's Autodesk University, the company's now-ceo Carl Bass thought not, because it's too 'heavy' — too much data. He thought there was a place for BOMs and markups, which don't transmit nearly as much information. If AutoCAD 2007 places a burden on 2GHz desktop computers, how could Web browsers cope?

View22 of Ontario, Canada, thinks they have the makings of just such a product, now three years in the making. Their approach was to work the problem backwards: instead of positing themselves at the CAD end (seen by all other CAD vendors at the starting point), they began at the customer end — the final resting point seen by 'normal' CAD companies. In this case, the customer is either B2C business-to-consumers or B2B business-to-business entities.

Think FloorPlan 3D running in a Web browser. Consumers dragging and dropping 3D symbols into floorplans. See HGTV's version of View22's software at

Companies like General Electric and Playworld Systems have replaced hundreds of seats of AutoCAD with View22.

The company's little known secret is DynaCADD. Or, as View22's Mark Zohar put it, DynaCADD's DNA runs through them. What this means is that these people have CAD experience from the past, and their product includes CAD concepts like object snaps.

by Mick 0 Comments

Check out - a bookmarks manager. It provides a web service for sharing bookmarks - everything posted is publicly viewable, so its not a tool for storing private collections. is a social bookmarks manager. It allows you to easily add web pages you like to your personal collection of links, to categorize those sites with keywords, and to share your collection not only among your own browsers and machines, but also with others.

Find out more

IE 7.0

by Mick 0 Comments

News is a little bit old but does this indicate a trend for trickling Longhorn functionality into XP ?

Some snippets from

After claiming for months it would not issue a new version of its Internet Explorer browser until it shipped Longhorn, Microsoft decides to deliver an IE 7.0.

In a complete about-face, Microsoft has decided to deliver a new, standalone version of its Internet Explorer browser in order to stem potential customer defections due to security and feature concerns.

Microsoft officials for months had been telling customers and partners that Microsoft had no plans to upgrade IE until the company rolled out its Longhorn client operating system in 2006. At the most, Microsoft might introduce some minor downloadable IE add-ons before then, officials said last year. In justifying its decision against upgrading, Microsoft had argued in antitrust cases in both the U.S. and Europe that IE was an inextricable part of the Windows operating system, and no longer a standalone product.

You can follow the trail at The IE Blog