Creole

Creole is a fusion of Shrimp (a hierarchical visualzation technique) with Java. I like reading about environments which are solving problems like this – problems I didn’t even realise I had until they were pointed out. There is a conceptual wall which divides “the tool” from “how you use the tool”. If your only navigation tools are class-hierarchy views and call-graph views, then you spend a lot of time “using” these tools in order to answer the questions which you are asking of the code. Wouldn’t it be better to use more powerful tools, so that you can actually ask the question directly? That’s what JQuery is all about too. There are lots of cool UI ideas and metaphors in these two projects.

I’ve often “watched myself” using a development environment and realised that I have a strong sense of a “current working set”. I think that the default “everything is visible” notion which most development environments present isn’t very useful. I would like to start with an empty canvas, and drag a few methods, classes or JQuery-style dynamic queries onto my canvas. At any one time, I’d be working with a canvas which contains only information relevant to my current train of thought. I would probably switch between canvases as time progreses and I start working on different parts of the system. In fact, it may be quite useful to share canvases between developers, perhaps as a way of guiding new developers .. “Bob, here’s the set of methods which you should look at before making your change”.

As an aside (of interest to Voxar folks), there is a “filmstrip” metaphor used in Shrimp which is really similar to Live Images in Voxar3D. If I knew more about formal HCI, I know where to look for more “GUI design patterns” such as this. I think this particular one is quite useful and I’d like to see more.

Full Body Search

There was a queue at the metal detector at Bristol Airport last night, which gave me a chance to notice an ‘internal’ poster which gives guidelines for the security staff. It described the various numbered stickers which check-in staff can apparently add to your boarding card. Some were pretty innocent, like “7 – has hearing difficulties”.

But more amusing was “4 – person has made light of security questions or actions”. The required follow-up procedure, according to the poster, was “full baggage and body search”.

Moral of the story: If you make jokes at check-in, you’ll regret it!

Random

A random sprinkling of weekend factiods, starting with techbabble:

  • I’ve started using Djvu in preference to PDF.
  • Shfs is cool – it lets you mount a filesystem via ssh
  • A new XML mode for emacs is quite tasty

A some non techbabble:

  • This weekend largely featured motorbike debugging (hence the new picture)
  • Keith’s party accounted for Saturday night and half of Sunday. Much fun, made even better by the nearness to my own flat.
  • Down to Bristol this week, hopefully meeting up with MikeR in the evening.
  • It’s my birthday at the end of the week. Apparently, by this age Einstein had came up with special relativity.

I’m off to test my brain at the pub quiz …