Fernando Correia’s Weblog

October 16, 2008

Editing Python on Ubuntu Linux

Filed under: Software Development — Fernando Correia @ 9:45 pm
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Still using Eclipse with PyDev for Python… Let’s face it, Visual Studio with ReSharper (for C#) is so much better…

Anyway, I tried GVim, but it is too old-fashioned. I’d rather use Notepad++ if it were available on Linux. I even tried JEdit again, after so many years…

But Eclipse is doing the trick for now. I expect that NetBeans with Python support will be my platform of choice for Python when it is released.


October 4, 2008

Google App Engine is 25% ready

Filed under: Software Development — Fernando Correia @ 10:07 am

When Google App Engine was announced, I was pretty excited to be able to run any code at all on Google’s servers. I was also intrigued by the promise of having scalable Web apps without having to worry about the infrastructure.

So I went out and built a sample application to learn how to use App Engine. I even learned some Python, which was great.

Even being able to successfully build the application, I gave up on App Engine. One reason is that there is too much data lock-in. It is a vault where you put your data in, but it’s very difficult to get it all out if you want or need to.

But the most serious issue for me were the frequent messages on the user group about applications being offline for hours because of a few Web requests that App Engine deemed excessive. Well, for me the only thing that is attractive about App Engine is the promise of reliability and scalability. But in practice you can’t depend on it.

Aral Balkan, one of the biggest App Engine enthusiasts and a great blogger, wrote an article that sums it all in a masterful way, and where he explains why App Engine is only 25% ready for prime time. For example:

<< You build an awesome new app on Google App Engine. You tell your friends. They tell 1,000 of their friends on Twitter who tell 1,000 of their friends and then, suddenly, you have all these developers hitting Google App Engine for the first time to see your app. Paradoxically, by doing that, they trigger the “intelligent throttling” “feature” in Google App Engine which freaks out and shuts down your app with an “Over Quota” error — effectively making the “Over Quota” message the first impression most of your audience has of Google App Engine. >>

The cloud space is a territory for experimentation, and I think it’s great that Google is working on such a service. I also think that eventually they will get it right.

But I wouldn’t host a Web app on App Engine anytime soon. I’d settle for a little less scalability and more reliability.

September 21, 2008

JavaScript performance: SquirrelFish Extreme

Filed under: Software Development — Fernando Correia @ 11:17 am
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The WebKit team announced a new generation of their JavaScript engine: SquirrelFish Extreme.

It leverages several advanced techniques and the result is quite fast JavaScript execution.

With this new scripting engine and its great rendering speed, WebKit is even better positioned as a leading browser engine.

There are already several benchmarks comparing SquirrelFish Extreme to previous WebKit versions and to other engines:

The new generation of browsers with fast rendering and scripting engines and multiprocess architecture is becoming a competitive platform for Rich Internet Applications and may provide a compelling alternative to environments like Flash / Flex and Silverlight.

September 5, 2008

Delicious in Google Chrome

Filed under: Software Development — Fernando Correia @ 5:07 pm

I really liked Google Chrome. It is fast and has a clean interface. One thing that was preventing me from switching to it is the lack of support for Delicious, where I keep my Web tags.

While we wait for extension support, there is a way to achieve good enough integration that makes Delicious usable from Chrome.

Tagging pages

To be able to tag pages on Delicious from Chrome we can use a bookmarklet. Instructions:

  • Open the Delicious bookmarklets help page.
  • Press Control+B to show Chrome’s bookmarks bar.
  • Still in the Bookmarklets page, locate the instructions for Safari.
  • Drag the two links into your bookmarks bar.

Delicious buttons

Now, whenever you want to bookmark a page on Delicious, just click on the icon on the bookmarks bar. Remember you can hide and show this bar, so press Control+B when you need the icon and enjoy a clean interface the rest of the time.

Searching pages

You can use Chrome’s Omnibox to search inside your Delicious tags:

  • Right-click in the Omnibox and select Edit search engines.
  • In the Search Engines dialog press the Add button.
  • Fill the form as follows:
    • Name: Delicious
    • Keywork: d
    • URL: http://delicious.com/search?context=userposts&p=%s&lc=1&u=your_user_name
  • Press OK to close the form.

Now on your Omnibox you can type “d”, the space bar, and your search term, like this:

d python

And a search page in Delicious will be shown.

Google Bookmarks

You can also integrate Google Bookmarks using the same technique described here.


I agree this is not as great as the Delicious extension for Firefox. But I think it is convenient enough to enable me to try switching to Chrome as my primary browser.

September 3, 2008

Django 1.0 is Out

Filed under: Software Development — Fernando Correia @ 10:11 pm
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Jacob Kaplan-Moss announced the release of Django 1.0. That’s a great milestone for this Python Web framework.

Jacob recalls how the project grew to a proportion that they couldn’t imagine in the first days, and concludes that

“Django 1.0 represents a the largest milestone in Django’s development to date: a web framework that a group of perfectionists can truly be proud of.”

Among the major features in the release notes are:

  • Stability and forwards-compatibility
  • A new documentation site
  • Re-factored admin application
  • Improved Unicode handling
  • An improved ORM
  • Automatic escaping of template variables
  • GeoDjango
  • Pluggable file storage
  • Jython compatibility
  • Generic relations in forms and admin
  • INSERT/UPDATE distinction
  • Split CacheMiddleware
  • Refactored django.contrib.comments

Chrome cheat codes

Filed under: Software Development — Fernando Correia @ 9:42 am
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Open these links in Chrome:

  • about:network
  • about:stats
  • about:cache
  • about:histograms
  • about:plugins
  • about:dns
  • about:version

Edit: Found more:

  • about:memory
  • about:internets

September 2, 2008

Chrome is Fast: JavaScript benchmark

Filed under: Software Development — Fernando Correia @ 5:29 pm
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I ran the V8 JavaScript virtual machine’s benchmark suite on Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. Guess who comes first…

The old JavaScript engines are not even in the same league. For a competitor I think we must wait for Tamarin TraceMonkey.


Reader PA contributed with another benchmark that finds that Lua is faster. Good, let’s all switch to Lua then! =D

Another independent benchmark: Google Chrome browser mini-review, benchmark (still fast).

Something more scientific-looking here: Google Chrome Benchmarks (still rocks).

Chip has a nice review and uses Mozilla’s own benchmark (still flies):

Alex pointed out that Celtic Kane has an interesting benchmark that deserves a good look. It shows very different results.

(Sorry, but Opera is not my style…)

Also John Resig did a great job on several benchmarks across several browsers:

Brendan Eich speaks for the TraceMonkey team with some in-depth analysis.

Matt Hackett also published a benchmark.

Faster JavaScript and faster browser engines mean richer browser applications without plugins like Flash and Silverlight.

Google Chrome is Out

Filed under: Software Development — Fernando Correia @ 4:54 pm
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Google just released Chrome, its own Web browser. It can be downloaded at http://www.google.com/chrome

After it downloads, it offers to import your settings from Firefox. When it opens, it tells you that it has a single edit box where you can search and navigate.

The first impression delivers on the promise. It is sleek!


If your primary language is not English you’ll probably see Chrome localized in your language. In fact, there is a single executable and you can choose the language in the options!


I just typed some search terms on the text box. The search results where shown immediately. I can press ENTER to open. Great!


Next I tried opening and closing some tabs. The animation is very fast and smooth.


Google Reader, Gmail and Google Maps seem to work really well in Chrome. Certainly we didn’t expect anything less. I’m not sure if I see the Javascript speed improvements already. Maybe when the browser does not freeze the way Firefox sometimes does.

Edit: See the benchmark.


Flash works well. I tried a casual game and my sample Flex application.


I liked the download interface better than Firefox’s. The download is shown in the tab footer and you click on it when it’s done. Simple and effective.

New tab

After having navigated for a while, I opened a new tab. Now it shows the sites I visited most. And it opened really fast, just as promised. Google doesn’t want you to default to an empty page.


[Edit] Being able to search inside the pages in your history is certainly a killer feature. Many times we remember a few words about a page we read before, and we want to find it fast. Google delivers on search, again.


My first impression was good. I will certainly use Chrome a little more. Of course, a great strength of Firefox is its many excellent plugins. I don’t thing I’m willing to leave some of them behind. On the other hand, I believe plugin authors will be interested in Chrome soon.

[Edit] For a better review than mine see Google Chrome: Should You Convert?.

Google Chrome Wallpaper

Filed under: Software Development — Fernando Correia @ 12:57 pm
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Want a nice wallpaper of Google Chrome?

Just click on the picture below and when it opens in full resolution, use your browser to save it as a wallpaper.

Make it centered and use a white background. Presto.

Source: This is a logo that qualifies for fair use. Found in Wikipedia.

Edit: For something more elaborate go to Google Chrome Wallpapers.

Google Chrome Screenshots

Filed under: Software Development — Fernando Correia @ 12:37 pm
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Tom Spring wrote an article in PC World about the upcoming Google Chrome browser.

He displays and comments on 9 screenshots. Since you can’t touch it right now, at least you can see it:

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