ShiftEdit – Web Based IDE

Posted by adamjimenez | Saturday, November 6th, 2010 | 6 Comments
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ShiftEdit is a new online IDE built around ExtJS and Mozilla Skywriter.

Philosophy behind the project:

Screenshot of ShiftEdit - Web Based IDE

Screenshot of ShiftEdit - Web Based IDE

“The web-based IDE is one of the final frontiers of apps ported to the web. I would like to be able to develop from any computer or operating system and have the same experience without having to install software or create site definitions.” – Adam Jimenez

These are some of the main features:

Code editor
The editor component is based on Mozilla’s Bespin. It has support for:

  • Syntax highlighing for HTML/ CSS/ JS and PHP
  • Block tabbing
  • Undo/ Redo
  • Line Numbers
  • Jump to line
  • + It’s very fast

(S)FTP support
There is a built-in FTP explorer which support FTP and SFTP.
You can create/ rename/ delete files and folders. You can also set file permissions.

Find and replace works across current or all open files. You can do text searches or regular expression searches.

Revision History
File revisions are stored whenever you save a file. You can then look back through past revisions and view a diff comparison.
You can then restore to an earlier version. Very useful if you or a colleague breaks something!


Mailing list:

Adventure PHP Framework (APF) 1.11 released

Posted by Christian | Saturday, January 30th, 2010 | 12 Comments
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Adventure PHP Framework LogoThe APF team is proud to anounce the new website together with the 1.11 stable release.

Revision 1.11 serves a reworking of the form support on the basis of taglibs. Now generic definition of validators and filters on the basis of the observer pattern is supported and forms can be customised to own needs more easily.

The OR mapper GenericORMapper already added in the release 1.9 was extended with tools to automatically setup and update a database. Now the developer can completely concentrate on the development of the logic of the application since the storage of the objects is completely managed by the mapper.

Part of the performance optimisations of the releases were optimisations in the core of the frameworks and the reworking of the integrated BenchmarkTimer. It now supplies the developer with a better graphic representation of the measurements to find hot-spots within an application. Thus, an application can the optimally prepared for operation.

With appearance of the release 1.11 the support for PHP 4 was announced discontinuation and the compatibility with PHP 5.3 was improved. In the coming version 1.12 lies the focus on the extension of the new form support and the reworking of the configuration component.

WidgetPad Introduces Web-based Open-Source Development Environment for iPhone Widgets

Posted by WidgetPad | Monday, September 21st, 2009 | 2 Comments
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WidgetPad Inc., a provider of collaborative developer environments for hybrid Web-based mobile applications, has announced WidgetPad for iPhone. WidgetPad for iPhone helps developers easily create native applications using standard Web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript, and distribute them as stand-alone applications via the Apple iTunes store. WidgetPad is a collaborative, open-source environment that will allow thousands of developers to share source code and learn from each other.

WidgetPad takes the complexity out of creating native applications and eliminates the need to learn platform-specific API sets and tools, by taking advantage of emerging new standards, such as HTML5. Available through the Web via a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, WidgetPad for iPhone allows developers to create fully interactive, media-rich mobile applications. These applications can leverage all of the iPhone’s advanced hardware capabilities (GPS, accelerometer, compass, etc.) by simply accessing through standard browsers – Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Some key features of WidgetPad for iPhone include:
– Editing: Source code editing for JavaScript, HTML 5 and CSS (with syntax highlighting)
– Resource management: Uploading of various resources (image, sound, and other JavaScript and CSS files) and project management
– Code Sharing and Forking: Automatic sharing of all public projects
– Secure cross-domain scripting: Easily create mash-up applications with existing Web services accessing Web-service APIs over the domain boundary securely
– Application previewing: Run the application on a PC/Mac browser without the iPhone (Safari compatible)
– Publishing: Developers can choose to publish applications to iPhone either via a generic WidgetPad client (free), or as their own branded applications (free or paid)

WidgetPad Development Environment

WidgetPad Development Environment

Upcoming versions of WidgetPad will allow developers to seamlessly port applications to other smartphone devices such as the Palm Pre and Blackberry. The basic version of WidgetPad for iPhone, which is free, allows developers to distribute their applications to iPhone users via a generic WidgetPad client (also free). The source code of those “public” applications will be automatically shared among other developers (MIT license), creating a great learning and collaborative environment for developers. The premium version of WidgetPad for iPhone, available later this year, allows developers to create “private” projects and distribute stand-alone applications to the Apple iTunes store.

For more information about WidgetPad for iPhone and to instantly start developing hybrid applications for the iPhone, visit

WidgetPad Inc. is a provider of collaborative developer environments for hybrid Web-based mobile applications. The company’s development environment allows Web developers to easily and cost-effectively create hybrid web applications for smartphones and mobile devices, such as iPhone, Palm Pre and Google’s Android devices. The company was founded by Satoshi Nakajima and Yuichiro Masui. Nakajima is the creator of the world’s first CAD application for the personal computer, and a defining force behind the architecture for Microsoft Windows 95 and the creation of Internet Explorer 3.0. Masui is a contributor of various open source projects, such as PukiWiki, and played a leadership role in building Ruby on Rails community in Japan. WidgetPad is based in Bellevue, Wash.

FMCharts: Dynamic and Accessible Web Charts

Posted by corrideat | Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

I have been developing a script that shows bar graphs. While similar
systems already exist, this one particularly is geared towards
accessibility. I was inspired on CSS For Bar Graphs. However, a major improvement is the added flexibility that comes from implementing it in ECMAScript. Even with these changes, the prevailing
first intention remains: that the graph is readable in plain HTML,
which is why it is appropriate for an accessible design. It works by
firstly creating the appropiate DOM tree of the graph, and then
applying the corresponding styles.

The script is available at the address Using it isn’t that complicated.

The first thing is to create an instance of the object.

var x=_FMchart();

Then a layer must be specified, either in string or in DOM node form.


After that, the data should be given:

{title:"Cases of H1N1 Influenza A in South America by country (progessive)",
categories: ["AR", ["BO","999"], "BR", "CL", "CO", "EC", "PE", "PY", "SR", "UY", "VE"],

The properties are

title (caption)
array containing the different elements described by the data. In
the example, we are using the default colors for all the categories,
with the exception of BO (using color #999999.)
if set to true, it replaces the absolute values by relative
percentual values (eg 4 in a sample of 10 is represented as 40%.)
if set to true the length of the bars must be proportional among
them (only available for a sample or more)
the data itself. Labels are needed to compare data from different samples.
dimensions an object containing either one or both of the properties w (for
width) and h (for height), with units
the function which will apply the styles. For example, for a pie
chart it will be x.helpers.pie
array containing the different arguments to pass to the helper.

For instance, the first value sets the radius (in pixels) to use for
the pie chart when using helpers.pie

Pie charts require SVG or VML support. Bar charts are currently supported on the following browsers:

  • MSIE 5.5, 6, 7 and 8 (for Windows)
  • Netscape 7 and 9
  • Arora 0.7.1
  • Mozilla Firefox 0.8, 1.0.8,,, 3.0 and 3.5
  • Konqueror 3.5 and 4.2
  • Galeon 2.0.6
  • Opera 9.26, 9.63, 9.64 and 10
  • Kazehakase 0.5.4
  • Epiphany 2.22 and 2.26.3
  • K-Meleon 1.1.4
  • Flock 2.0.3
  • Safari 3.2.1 and 4.0
  • Avant 11.7

A demo available at More information (in Spanish) is also available.


Drupala Installation Profile 5.19 v1.0 – Social Networking & Social Bookmarking for Drupal

The Drupala Installation Profile is built on the Drupal 5.x Drigg Installation for social bookmarking and the Advanced Profile Kit for social networking. The site architecture makes extensive use of Views, Panels, and multiple content types to build a portal organized around taxonomy terms that includes blogs, articles, social bookmarks, and user profiles. The Drigg base theme has been redesigned to position featured categories in the primary links section and Drigg categories in the sidebar. This allows for an easy customization of the site structure to support virtually any topic. FCKeditor is pre-installed and configured for WYSIWYG blog & article publishing. The Drupala theme is two columns, optimized for APK & Drigg, and cross-browser tested in FF, IE6, IE7, Chrome, Safari, and Opera.

There are two live sites currently based around the Drupala installation profile:

The Drupala Installation Profile contains two new themes, “Drupala” and “SEO-Mix”, as well as more than 50 contributed third-party modules for the Drupal 5.x platform. The installation package includes a MySQL database map and full Drupal 5.x installation. The Drupala and SEO-Mix themes are only different in the color of the top buttons of the GUI & search interface. The Drupala Installation Profile can be used as a base for multi-site installations, and comes with upgrade documentation.

The benefit of the Drupala installation profile is the combination of social networking and social bookmarking with a solid theme that can be deployed from a database map to pre-populate the site structure & configuration. With the Drupala installation profile, you can reduce the development time needed to build an advanced social networking / social bookmarking site on Drupal 5.x from 5 to 6 weeks to less than 1 week.

Visit TypeHost Web Development for more information:


Drupala Profile – Installation Instructions:

1. Upload & unpack the site files in domain directory.

2. Create a new MySQL database – grant user all powers.

3. Use phpMyAdmin or command line to import MySQL database map.

a. To import a database with PHPMyAdmin: –> may be necessary to edit database line in MySQL file to the name of your database

b. Big Dump:

c. Command Line:

mysql -u drupaldbusername -p  drupaldbname < /home/drupaltest/public_html/backup/drupaldb.sql

For future reference for others:

1. By your method of choice (I used PHPMyAdmin) backup your database and make sure you select the option “Add DROP TABLE”

2. From the commandline run your database. Below is a template of the command (remove the brackets and put your specific information in):

mysql -u [database_username] -p[database_user_password] [database_name] < [/path/to/your/backup/database/dbname.sql

An example:

Database Name: drupal

Database Username: acert93

DB User Password: testing

Backup database: backup_drupal.sql

Path to database: /home/demonstration/www/backup/

mysql -u acert93 -ptesting drupal < /home/demonstration/www/backup/backup_drupal.sql


4. Edit /sites/default/settings.php

+ update database name, password, & user name (usually “localhost” is constant)

+ update base url

+ update cookie domain

+ save / replace – changing permissions as necessary

—> note: you can also review & edit the site “term changes” in the settings.php, see:

5. Browse to the domain – your site should be live.

+ login with ID: “admin” – password: “test”

+ immediately change the password to something secure and begin configuration of the site.

6. Set up cron for the domain as usual.

Note: there is a “dashboard” page in the admin menu that contains all the instructions for configuring the Drupala installation and customizing it to your content. Just click on “Configure Site” and follow the links & instructions.


Drupala Profile – Configuration Instructions:

1. Goto “Site Information” & change the site name & email:

2. Goto the Taxonomy section – change the main categories & featured section information for social bookmarks, articles, and blogs: /admin/content/taxonomy

Note: Offset the “Blog” and “Article” taxonomy by one term when updating the settings, as the first portal view is a list of all content types and not tied to any vocabulary.

3. Goto Menus – update the paths & link titles to reflect your site’s content

4. Goto Blocks – update ads / titles / settings (paths that determine block display may need updated as you make changes):
+ 250px x 250px – top ad: —> change in block:
+ Google adSense – 3 Ads:
—>250 x 250px: image ads only —> change in block:
—>250 x 250px: text ads only – #28488C —> change in block:
—>468 x 15px: link group – #28488C —> this code needs to be changed in:
Footer ad is in site configuration settings:
—> you can also change the bottom link menu in this section.

Note: these can be replaced with ads other than adSense or removed completely. Keep the “div ID” tags in code.

6. Goto panels – use the existing pages as templates to build your site:

+ delete / add / change panels pages & layouts according to site design

+ link panels pages to main images in views slideshow to create a navigation path to featured site articles

7. Goto content – review the views slidehow information and update accordingly:

+ Edit slideshow view


Additional Configuration Options:

1. Note: it is also necessary to register the site with recaptcha and enter the information in the module configuration panel:

2. Also – register the site at Google Webmaster Tools and update the XML Sitemap settings:

3. The meta-tag information must also be changed: /admin/content/nodewords

4. Change the information in the contact form configuration panel: /admin/build/contact/edit/1

5. Update the abuse email information: /admin/settings/abuse

6. Update the site name in Buddylist settings: /admin/settings/buddylist

7. Update the “legal” settings and also “terms & conditions” – /admin/settings/legal

8. Update the Webform contact information: /admin/settings/webform

9. …and also delete the panels template pages not needed for your installation:

10. When customizing the profile, it is also a good idea to rename the views and panel pages to something that reflects the updated content – but the taxonomy terms should update automatically.

Additional Comments:

Renaming the views from taxonomy specific tags like “articles_web_design” to “views_1″ simplifies the deployment of the profile & configuration.

If you clone a View that is already embedded in a Panel through a Views Panel, then you may lose the original settings in the panels block.

Updated the Tagadelic settings to display “blog tags” on blog pages, “article tags” on article pages, and “popular tags” (from the social bookmarks) on all other site pages.

Added a content type “slideshow” – for simple views slideshow that links to featured site articles, and more complex sorting of images into portal panels using taxonomy.

Added the Update Status module to the Drupala profile since this was missing from 5.x core: This is really an essential module – looking forward to totally automated module & version upgrades in the future.

Important: we do NOT recommend upgrading the version of Advanced Profile Kit used with the Drupala installation profile at this time (Included Version: Advanced Profile Kit 5.x-1.0-alpha5).

Upgraded FCKeditor to the latest version of the module & editor files – preserved the custom configuration for Drupala – Chrome browser scroll area bug solved by editing /sites/all/modules/fckeditor/fckeditor/editor/fckeditor.html

—> xEditingArea to “height: 390px”

The views, views blocks, panels, & other settings should automatically update with taxonomy changes.

For panels portal page displays, you may want to use flash, fpss, views slideshow, animated gifs, or just standard jpg/png files for a top section display.

With the Drupala installation profile, you can reduce the development time needed to deploy an advanced social networking / social bookmarking site on Drupal 5.x from 5 to 6 weeks to less than 1 week.

You can use the configuration “dashboard” page for administration that includes links to the pages above that you need to customize to configure the site after installation. Following the step by step process, you can easily create a custom social network, social bookmarking site, and multi-user blog portal for your publishing niche.


Finishing Configuration & Publishing:

After you have finished configuring the site, delete the dashboard page & menu entry.

Add content to your site.

Review all of the administration settings.

Site Design – Reference:

Drupal Documentation:

Media Reaction – Google Announces “Chrome” Operating System based on Linux

This was the day many people had been waiting and hoping years for… Google takes up the Open Source / Linux code base and enters into full competition with Microsoft in the operating system market. Now it is official, as Google announced on their blog yesterday. The “Chrome OS” will be, like Android, based on the Linux kernel and essentially a Google-sponsored re-write of the user interface over that to build a next-generation, cloud OS geared to run web apps. The most important point here is “browser” based vs. “desktop” based, because with that comes all of the potentialities of cloud applications, remote hosted drives, distributed computing, SaaS, etc. Since the Chrome OS is being specifically targeted at netbooks, many are also pointing to Adobe Air applications vs. traditional desktop apps as future standards. The last point though highlights the main asterisk to the announcement: the Chrome OS will be optimized for netbooks first, rather than desktop PCs, which most users and virtually all professionals & business users rely on.

Consider then a very methodical development cycle where Google moves from search, search advertising, apps & code / cloud offerings to launching 1) a mobile phone OS based on open source Linux code base, “Android” 2) a netbook OS based on Linux & browser, “Chrome OS”, to…. 3) full desktop OS (based on Linux) that is integrated with Google products and a direct competitor to Apple / OSX & Microsoft / Windows, (unfinished, but reportedly also pending as a next phase extension of the Chrome OS). The long range significance is that the leading IT company in the world is launching, progressively the open source movement into mainstream computing, and at every level providing free, open source software alternatives for both business and personal users to the proprietary offerings by Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, & other old school software companies. Again, this is great news for independent developers of web based applications, as it levels the playing field and allows for direct entry into the marketplace on the open source foundation following Google.

It can be argued that this is no big deal, Linux has been around for years, and still has only 1% desktop market share. But Google has 80% market share in search. If, by the law of averages, they can pull a 40% market share away from Microsoft & Apple in the next 10 years they can totally transform the popular foundation of computing a second time. Given the momentum behind Open Source at this time, changing consumer habits, and worldwide consumer trust in Google, I think there is a strong possibility in this.

The following posts include the initial announcement from the Google blog and the media reaction to the announcement:

Introducing the Google Chrome OS

7/07/2009 09:37:00 PM

“It’s been an exciting nine months since we launched the Google Chrome browser. Already, over 30 million people use it regularly. We designed Google Chrome for people who live on the web — searching for information, checking email, catching up on the news, shopping or just staying in touch with friends. However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web. So today, we’re announcing a new project that’s a natural extension of Google Chrome — the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.”

“Google Chrome OS is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks. Later this year we will open-source its code, and netbooks running Google Chrome OS will be available for consumers in the second half of 2010. Because we’re already talking to partners about the project, and we’ll soon be working with the open source community, we wanted to share our vision now so everyone understands what we are trying to achieve.”

“Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web. And as we did for the Google Chrome browser, we are going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.”

“When Google (GOOG) launched Android, the open-source operating system designed to power mobile Internet devices, industry analysts were surprised to discover that PC manufacturers had begun to use it to power netbooks, the cheap, low-power laptops that have become among the biggest sellers in a dismal market. Now, Google has thrown itself fully into the netbook market with the release of Chrome OS, a new operating system based on its Web browser and designed to directly challenge Microsoft (MSFT) for the future of the personal computer. The search giant had originally planned to announce the release today but bumped it up to yesterday after the New York Times got wind of it.”

“In the end, Google’s strike may not cut deep into enemy territory. Chrome, the web browser, is still stuck at a tiny market share of 1.2%. Android is available on just two or three phones, not enough to really make an impact. Google Apps – productivity software to handle spreadsheets and word documents – has just come out of its “beta” test phase, but look around you and you will find most people still using Microsoft Office. The one field where Chrome OS may make a difference is the market for the open source Linux operating system. Chrome OS will use bits of the Linux kernel, the link between the computer hardware and the Chrome browser running on it. Google is bound to make Chrome OS much more user-friendly than most “distros” or versions of Linux available right now. Instead of slaying Microsoft, Chrome OS might corner the segment of the consumer space that might have been Linux’s. No doubt, Google’s charge with Chrome OS will needle Microsoft. But we won’t know for years whether it will deliver a mere pinprick, or is the fine point of the dagger at the heart of Microsoft.”

“Fast forward to today. The Chrome browser now has 30 million active users, says Google, and tracking services say it has 6% or so market share. Not bad for a browser that’s less than a year old. And now, WOW. Google just bolted a big ol’ bag of drivers (also known as the Linux kernel) to Chrome and are calling it the Google Chrome Operating System. It’s going to be hard for people to continue to deny its operating systemness now. The new OS will focus entirely on the web: ‘The software architecture is simple — Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel. For application developers, the web is the platform.’ Now, finally, even the tech purists can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Windows is hardware management plus an application platform, and we call that an OS. Chrome OS is hardware management plus an application platform (the browser), and we call that an OS, too.”

“Google really can challenge Microsoft, because the proliferation of Web-based applications makes the operating system much less important,” said Zeus Kerravala, analyst at Yankee Group. “As we pave the way towards real Web 2.0, there will be less of a real tie-in to Windows.”

“Google, which already offers a suite of e-mail, Web and other software products that compete with Microsoft, said on Tuesday it would launch a new operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks.”

“Called the Google Chrome Operating System, the new software will be in netbooks for consumers in the second half of 2010, Google said in a blog post, adding that it was working with multiple manufacturers.”

“The effort marks the latest attack by Google on Microsoft, which dominates the market for operating system software that powers computer applications. The Mountain View, Calif., company, which makes 97% of its revenue from online advertising, has been trying to compete with Microsoft and other software makers by offering more software that runs in a Web browser and isn’t downloaded directly to computers. Now it appears to be broadening its approach, in a move that could give it greater distribution of its own online software services, including word-processing and email software.”

“But whether it can chip away at Microsoft’s dominance in the market remains unclear. In the months since its launch, Chrome has done little to challenge Microsoft’s lead in the browser software. And some hardware companies have been slow to adopt Google software — like its Android operating system, which is targeted at running applications on mobile phones — arguing it isn’t robust enough to handle many tasks.”

“The announcement contained a thesis statement that is a bit more significant than it might appear at first: ‘It’s our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be.’ That statement has both strategic and practical implications, which we’ll consider in turn.”

“From a strategic perspective, ‘what operating systems should be’ clearly involves a heavy dose of Google-driven Web apps, from e-mail to spreadsheets. The entire OS will be focused on getting users into a Web browser as quickly as possible; any other applications will be secondary and probably not provided by Google. Instead, once the browser launches, users can do their computing via online applications, saving their data in the cloud (think of all those “gDrive” rumors from the last few years)…”

“From a technological perspective, there appear to be some interesting aspects to rethinking the operating system. For one, by having an extremely narrow focus—bringing up a networking stack and browser as quickly as possible—Chrome OS has the ability to cut down on the hassles related to restarting and hibernating computers. And, aside from the browser, all of the key applications will reside online, security and other software updates won’t happen on the computer itself, which should also improve the user experience.”

“But let’s be clear on what this really is. This is Google dropping the mother of bombs on its chief rival, Microsoft. It even says as much in the first paragraph of its post, ‘However, the operating systems that browsers run on were designed in an era where there was no web.’ Yeah, who do you think they mean by that?”

“And it’s a genius play. So many people are buying netbooks right now, but are running WIndows XP on them. Windows XP is 8 years old. It was built to run on Pentium IIIs and Pentium 4s. Google Chrome OS is built to run on both x86 architecture chips and ARM chips, like the ones increasingly found in netbooks. It is also working with multiple OEMs to get the new OS up and running next year.”

“Obviously, this Chrome OS will be lightweight and fast just like the browser itself. But also just like the browser, it will be open-sourced. Think Microsoft will be open-sourcing Windows anytime soon?”

“I also suspect that some at Google were not entirely happy with the the direction that its Android mobile OS project is taking. Numerous netbook makers have made plans to install Android on small laptops. But Android was designed for handsets and a move to bigger devices is problematic. At a minimum, porting Android to larger screens would require major modifications in the user interface and possible some deeper components, such as the file system. This would lead to what computer scientists call ‘forking,’ the splitting of an operating system into branches that have serious incompatibilities between them. The push for Android on netbooks was being driven by manufacturers’ dissatisfaction with both Microsoft and current Linux distributions. In some cases, the computer makers wanted to build netbooks based on the ARM processor, such as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform, rather than an Intel or AMD x86 processor, and Android is designed for ARM. Done right, Chrome would satisfy those desires while helping Google protect the integrity of Android.”

TechMeme – List of Blogs Discussing Google Chrome OS:

“Discussion: Google Watch, MediaPost, Mark Evans, Fast Company, Between the Lines,,, Computerworld Blogs, TechCrunch, MediaMemo, Wall Street Journal, Open Gardens, Silicon Alley Insider, Mashable!, Google Operating System, CNET News, Computerworld, Bloomberg, Hardware 2.0, PC World, Network World, p2pnet, VentureBeat, Financial Times,, OStatic blogs, Tech Beat, pasmith’s blog, Ajaxian, Gadget Lab, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, 9 to 5 Mac, Lifehacker, ClickZ, Android Central, Electricpig, Search Engine Journal,, Liliputing, SEO and Tech Daily, the Econsultancy blog, Gadgetell, jkOnTheRun, Guardian, Search Engine Roundtable, MacRumors, Music Ally, eWeek, TechFlash, CloudAve,, PSFK,, Irregular Enterprise, AnandTech, Mobile Opportunity, DailyTech, Softpedia News, All things Indian Startups …, The Mobile Gadgeteer, AppScout, DailyFinance, Netbook Choice, News, Electronic Pulp, Gizmodo, Deep Jive Interests, Text Technologies,, ReadWriteWeb, I4U News, Techgeist, SlashGear, istartedsomething, Blogation, Epicenter, HackingCough,, ithinkdifferent, paidContent, OhGizmo!,, InformationWeek, Tim Anderson’s ITWriting, Microsoft News Tracker, Zoho Blogs, CellPassion,, TeleRead, Tech Trader Daily, MobileContentToday, Download Squad, Engadget, TUAW and Raph’s Website

Power Outage to Cost RackSpace up to $3.5 million in Refunds

According to a SEC filing by the publicly traded company RackSpace, the power outage that caused its servers to go offline for an extended period last month will cost the company up to $3.5 million USD in refunds. According to the report: “We have experienced power interruptions which have affected a portion of our Grapevine, Texas data center. We have posted updates on our recent power interruption on our website blog and our customer portal for the benefit of our customers. We are continuing to assess the financial impact of service credits due to these events. Currently, our preliminary range for the resulting one time service credits is estimated to be between $2.5 million and $3.5 million. Our website blog is located at .”

The story of RackSpace’s downtime had a nice run across Twitter & the blogosphere, typical of which is this post by TechCrunch: “Last week, Michael Jackson’s death caused sites to fail left and right. Today, it’s a very different problem. The hosting service Rackspace has been completely down for the past 30 minutes or so… Apparently, it’s an entire network outage [Update below, while it was a massive outage, it wasn’t a full outage, apparently.] and so the usually very responsive Rackspace team cannot even respond to emails or tweet (though I’m sure we’ll be seeing some updates from smartphones shortly).”

I have been personally considering migrating to Mosso, looking at their cloud sites and cloud servers options, as we also had trouble for sometime on our own host. Bottom line is basically every and any host is going to have issues from time to time, when everything is working normally you rarely stop to appreciate how good the service actually is. But most people have zero tolerance for downtime from a web host, as that is the basic fundamental service they are providing as a business. If the downtime issues continue, mass migration quickly ensues. Did the issue hit a crisis point for RackSpace?

From June 30th, 2009 RackSpace blog:

“Rackspace community,

Yesterday afternoon at 3:15CDT our data center in Dallas experienced an interruption in power to portions of the facility. The interruption caused customer servers to lose power and go down. We sincerely apologize for this disruption and know that it impacted our customers’ businesses as well as the experience of many who use the web. Although we have had some issues with this data center before, please know that we will do what it takes to improve its reliability and performance. We owe you an action plan to prevent this type of thing in the future, and we’ll get that to you as soon as it is ready.

Specific to this situation, here’s what we are doing right now:

The data center is currently running on utility power.

We are continuing to research the root cause analysis for yesterday’s generator failures. We have flown in our senior-level engineers from our global operations, and they are working with our external suppliers to determine the cause and how we can prevent this from happening again. We have the best outside experts from companies like Cummins, GE and Eaton.

We have re-serviced and re-checked our UPS units.

Tonight at 9:00CDT we will continue our testing of the generator bank in question as we narrow down the variables to determine and remediate root cause.

Our Support teams will continue to work with all affected customers to ensure they’re up and running.

We will continue to provide status updates on our customer portal ( and on

A copy of the incident report that we sent to affected customers can be found at the following link. Though we typically treat our incident reports as proprietary information between us and our customers, we are publicly posting the report for this incident due to high level of public interest that this incident has received.

I want to ensure you that we are doing everything we can to bring this to resolution as quickly as possible. We appreciate your support and understanding. Our promise is Fanatical Support, we believe in it, and we will work with each of our customers to honor that promise.

Lanham Napier CEO, Rackspace Hosting”

Have they solved the issue?

RackSpace Blog – July 7, 2009

Dallas data center update as of 1:30 pm CDT

“Today at approximately 11:00 AM, an electrical connection failed, causing a brief power interruption to customers on UPS cluster A. This failure also may have caused intermittent network performance issues for customers supported by UPS clusters B and E for a short time. For cluster A customers, we bypassed the UPS and restored power to the servers via generator within a few minutes. Currently systems supported by UPS cluster A are still running on generator power. Repairs are underway and we plan to return to utility power with UPS support as soon as possible. We will follow up with additional updates as new information becomes available.”

RackSpace will undoubtedly lose some business because of this, but they have been having massive growth even during the recession, and it seems they are planning to calm down quite a few customers with a refund or account credit. Since the failures seem to be related to mundane issues related to power generation and backup power supplies, and not the cloud server architecture, I would expect the problem to be easily resolved and hopefully no longer an issue in the future.

Acquia Launches Cloud-based Solr Search Indexing

Acquia, the start-up company founded by Dries Buytaert, the lead developer & founder of Drupal, has announced that they are now providing paid search indexing for Drupal sites on a subscription basis aimed at enterprise sites. Similar to Mollom, Acquia’s anti-spam software for CMS platforms, Acquia Search will also work for those running other open source software like WordPress, Joomla, TYPO3, etc as well as sites with proprietary code. Acquia Search is based on the Lucene and Solr distributions of Apache, and essentially works by having Acquia index your site’s content on their computers and then send it with encryption on demand to supply user queries using an integrated Acquia Search module. According to the announcement, Acquia is using Solr server farms on Amazon EC2 to power this on cloud architecture.

Many people have complained about Drupal’s core search functionality over the years, but the server requirements behind Solr and Lucene require a Java extension that most people are not equipped to manage on their existing IT architecture, staff, or budget. So Acquia is offering these search functionalities as SaaS, or Software as a Service on a remote-hosted, pre-configured basis. If you want to do it yourself, see:


According to Dries:

“Acquia Search is included for no additional cost in every Acquia Network subscription. Basic and Professional subscribers have one ‘search slice’ and Enterprise subscribers have five ‘search slices’. A slice includes the processing power to index your site, to do index updates, to store your index, and to process your site visitors’ search queries. Each slice includes 10MB of indexing space – enough for a site with between 1,000 and 2,000 nodes. Customers who exceed the level included with their subscription may purchase additional slices. A ten-slice extension package costs an additional $1,000/year, and will cover an additional 10,000 – 20,000 nodes in an index of 100MB. For my personal blog, which has about 900 nodes at the time of this writing, a Basic Acquia Network subscription ($349 USD/year) would give me all the benefits of Acquia Search, plus all the other Acquia Network services.”

Put in this perspective, most Drupal users likely won’t be switching to Acquia Search anytime soon. But, for the most part… they have little need to. For small sites or social networks, Drupal’s core search is going to be generally sufficient. Drupal will index your site automatically on cron runs, and keep this index of keywords and nodes in a table of your MySQL database. If you are working a lot with taxonomy and CCK fields, then Faceted Search is a recommended choice:

I have used Faceted Search on a number of sites and it is excellent for building a custom search engine around your site’s own custom vocabularies, hierarchies, and site structures. Faceted Search is also important in a number of Semantic Web integrations working with RDF data and other micro-tags attached to data fields. Acquia Search is designed to work in this way as well as to facilitate the number crunching involved when high traffic sites with extremely large databases of content need to sift through search archives quickly to return results from user queries. Consider the example of in this context – Acquia Search is the solution to managing over 500,000 nodes and millions of search queries on an extremely active site.

“Reality is that for a certain class of websites — like intranets or e-commerce websites — search can be the most important feature of the entire site. Faceted search can really increase your conversions if you have an e-commerce website, or can really boost the productivity of your employees if you have a large intranet. For those organizations, Drupal’s built in search is simply not adequate. We invested in search because we believe that for many of these sites, enterprise-grade search is a requirement… The search module shipped with Drupal core has its purpose and target audience. It isn’t right for everyone, just as Acquia Search is not for everyone. Both are important, not just for the Drupal community at large, but also for many of Acquia’s own customers. Regardless, there is no question that we need to keep investing and improving Drupal’s built-in search.”

In summary, Acquia Search is mostly targeted at enterprise level Drupal users with extremely large databases and high traffic, and is a cloud based solution that should not only speed up the rate of return on results, it should also improve the quality of the material returned based on faceted keywords & vocabularies. For those using Acquia’s personal or small business subscription accounts, the new search should appear as an additional “free bonus” with your monthly package of services. For users, even on a small site, the efficiency of faceted search may make information more accessible for visitors.

To learn more, visit:

Facebook Announces Developer Contest for India


Facebook would become the first social networking site to showcase apps in Hindi as it calls for entries in English and Hindi to showcase web development skills in two categories of Facebook apps & Facebook Connect Integrations

New Delhi, India, July 3, 2009: The day for which the Indian developer community had been waiting has finally arrived. Facebook, whose mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected, announced today the launch of ‘Facebook India Developer Contest’ – a contest for Indian developers to showcase their web development skills by creating Facebook applications and Facebook Connect Integrations. The contest began on July 2 and ends on September 11, 2009 and is located at

This is the first time Facebook is organizing a developer contest in India. Entries will be judged on originality, business potential, social utility, usefulness, expressive features, intuitiveness and potential of the application. There are three cash prizes; $4000 for the first place, $2000 for the second place and $1000 for the third, in each of the two categories.

To enter the contest, participants are required to create a Facebook platform application for use on the Facebook site or Facebook Connect integrations in English or Hindi and register their application in the contest’s homepage. The contest is open to Indian residents over the age of 16 with a account.

Ruchi Sangvi, Engineer and Manager of the Facebook platform said, “India ranks second in the number of software developers with 3.9 million software developers; we are very excited to engage with the developer community. Facebook has experienced a tremendous growth in India. Through the contest, we hope to see many rich experiences that leverage the social graph and empower Facebook users to share and connect.”

Facebook Connect enables people to combine their Facebook experiences with any participating Website, desktop application or mobile device.  When websites incorporate Facebook Connect, Facebook’s more than 200 million active users around the globe can automatically import profile information and bypass the need to build a friends’ list from scratch. More than 10000 websites have incorporated Facebook Connect since its general availability in December 2008.

Replacing FPSS with Views Slideshow in Drupal – Tutorial

I have been using FrontPage SlideShow from JoomlaWorks on a number of sites, and would recommend it as a good CSS/PHP route to building a featured slide section that links to promoted content, articles, blog posts, groups, etc. One problem is that it is not free, the cost is around $35 for a license to use it on 5 to 10 domains. A second problem is highlighted by the example of releasing an installation profile for Drupal. We can release all of the code under GPL for the project except for FPSS. So, I began working on a conversion of our FPSS slides into Views Slideshow views.

The easiest way is to create a new content type, for example “slide,” and disable comments, post information, front page promotion, etc. Decide which size you would like to standardize all the images at, and then create a simple div structure with the image only as content. You can create a “views slideshow” view, sort only the “slide” content type, save it as a block or create a panels views block and embed it on a panels page. Use block or panels permissions to control the display. This is fine if you are using only images or banners made in photoshop that combine text and images, but if you want the to be text editable, viewable by search engines, and style-able by CSS, you will need to build a more complex template for your “slide” content type.

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