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Blog Layout and Implementation Improvements

2009 Jul 19, 11:44

Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, Charlottesville, Va. (LOC) from Flickr CommonsI've redone my blog's layout to remind myself how terrible CSS is -- err I mean to play with the more advanced features of CSS 2.1 which are all now available in IE8. As part of the new layout I've included my Delicious links by default but at a smaller size and I've replaced the navigation list options with Technical, Personal and Everything as I've heard from folks that that would actually be useful. Besides the layout I've also updated the back-end, switching from my handmade PHP+XSLT+RSS/Atom monster to a slightly less horrible PHP+DB solution. As a result everything should be much much faster including search which, incidentally, is so much easier to implement outside of XSLT.

PermalinkCommentsblog database redisgn xslt mysql homepage

OpenSearchDescriptionToHTML Tool

2009 Jun 10, 3:36

I've made an OpenSearchDescriptionToHTML XSLT that given an OpenSearch description file produces HTML that describes that file, lets you install it, or search with it. For example, here's a Google OpenSearch description that uses my OpenSearchDescriptionToHTML XSLT.

I had just created an OpenSearch description for WolframAlpha at work and was going about the process of adding another install link to my search provider page so that I could install it. Thinking about it, I realized I could apply an XSLT to the OpenSearch description XML to produce the HTML automatically so I wouldn't have to modify additional documents everytime I create and want to install a new OpenSearch description. While I was in there writing the XSLT I figure why not let the user try out searching with the OpenSearch description file too. And lastly I made the XSLT apply to itself to produce HTML describing its own usage.

Incidentally, I added WolframAlpha at work to replace my FileInfo search provider for the purposes of searching for information about particular Unicode characters. For instance, look at WolframAlpha's lovely output for this search for "Bopomofo zh".

PermalinkCommentstechnical xml wolframalpha opensearchdescriptiontohtml xslt opensearch

Flickr Visual Search in IE8

2009 Apr 10, 9:48

A while ago I promised to say how an xsltproc Meddler script would be useful and the general answer is its useful for hooking up a client application that wants data from the web in a particular XML format and the data is available on the web but in another XML format. The specific case for this post is a Flickr Search service that includes IE8 Visual Search Suggestions. IE8 wants the Visual Search Suggestions XML format and Flickr gives out search data in their Flickr web API XML format.

So I wrote an XSLT to convert from Flickr Search XML to Visual Suggestions XML and used my xsltproc Meddler script to actually apply this xslt.

After getting this all working I've placed the result in two places: (1) I've updated the xsltproc Meddler script to include this XSLT and an XML file to install it as a search provider - although you'll need to edit the XML to include your own Flickr API key. (2) I've created a service for this so you can just install the Flickr search provider if you're interested in having the functionality and don't care about the implementation. Additionally, to the search provider I've added accelerator preview support to show the Flickr slideshow which I think looks snazzy.

Doing a quick search for this it looks like there's at least one other such implementation, but mine has the distinction of being done through XSLT which I provide, updated XML namespaces to work with the released version of IE8, and I made it so you know its good.

PermalinkCommentsmeddler xml ie8 xslt flickr technical boring search suggestions

Text/Plain Fragment Bookmarklet

2008 Nov 19, 12:58

The text/plain fragment documented in RFC 5147 and described on Erik Wilde's blog struck my interest and, like the XML fragment, I wanted to see if I could implement this in IE. In this case there's no XSLT for me to edit so, like my plain/text word wrap bookmarklet I've implemented it as a bookmarklet. This is only a partial implementation as it doesn't implement the integrity checks.

Check out my text/plain fragment bookmarklet.

PermalinkCommentstext url boring bookmarklet uri plain-text javascript fragment

XSLT Meddler Script

2008 Nov 9, 11:25

I've made an XSLT Meddler script in my continued XSLT adventures. Meddler is a simple and easy web server that runs whatever JScript.NET code you give it. I wrote a script that takes an indicated XSLT on the server, downloads an indicated XML from the Internet and returns the result of running that XML through the XSLT. This is useful when you want to work with something like the Zune software or IE7's feed platform which only reads feeds over the HTTP protocol. I'll give more interesting and specific examples of how this could be useful in the future.

PermalinkCommentsmeddler technical xml script xslt

Deriving a Non-Recursive Fibonacci Function Using Linear Algebra

2008 Aug 20, 10:51

In my Intro to Algorithms course in college the Fibonacci sequence was used as the example algorithm to which various types of algorithm creation methods were applied. As the course went on we made better and better performing algorithms to find the nth Fibonacci number. In another course we were told about a matrix that when multiplied successively produced Fibonacci numbers. In my linear algebra courses I realized I could diagonalize the matrix to find a non-recursive Fibonacci function. To my surprise this worked and I found a function.
The Nth Fibonacci value is (1 + sqrt(5))^N - (1 - sqrt(5))^N all over sqrt(5) * 2^N
Looking online I found that of course this same function was already well known. Mostly I was irritated that after all the algorithms we created for faster and faster Fibonacci functions we were never told about a constant time function like this.

I recently found my paper depicting this and thought it would be a good thing to use to try out MathML, a markup language for displaying math. I went to the MathML implementations page and installed a plugin for IE to display MathML and then began writing up my paper in MathML. I wrote the MathML by hand and must say that's not how its intended to be created. The language is very verbose and it took me a long time to get the page of equations transcribed.

MathML has presentation elements and content elements that can be used separately or together. I stuck to content elements and while it looked great in IE with my extension when I tried it in FireFox which has builtin MathML support it didn't render. As it turns out FireFox doesn't support MathML content elements. I had already finished creating this page by hand and wasn't about to switch to content elements. Also, in order to get IE to render a MathML document, the document needs directives at the top for specific IE extensions which is a pain. Thankfully, the W3C has a MathML cross platform stylesheet. You just include this XSL at the top of your XHTML page and it turns content elements into appropriate presentation elements, and inserts all the known IE extension goo required for you. So now my page can look lovely and all the ickiness to get it to render is contained in the W3C's XSL.

PermalinkCommentstechnical mathml fibonacci math

Debugging XSLT

2008 Aug 15, 4:02VS debugs XSLT. Didn't know that. Neat. "You can use the Visual Studio debugger to debug XSLT. The debugger supports setting breakpoints, viewing XSLT execution state, and so on. The debugger can be used to debug a style sheet, or to debug an XSLT transformation invoked from another application. XSLT debugging is available in the Visual Studio Team System and the Professional Edition." Unfortunately I couldn't figure out how to pass in parameter values... I just ended up setting the default value for my param elements. Otherwise, cool.PermalinkCommentsdebug visual-studio microsoft msdn reference xsl xslt xml

MathML to VML/SVG via XSLT (Chris Pollett > Students > Namon)

2008 Mar 8, 11:23"Translating a fragment of MathMLPurpose: To get the MathML matrix related, apply, minus, times, divide, and eq tags to translate to VML and to SVG via XSLT."PermalinkCommentsNamon-Nuttayasakul mathml vml svg xslt xml convert

Web Q&A: XPath, XML Notepad, Data Islands, Case Sensitivity, XSL, and More -- MSDN Magazine, September 2001

2008 Feb 7, 2:36To summ up the last Q&A, the one I was interested in: "Is there any way to escape the characters " and ' in an XPath expression...". And their answer is no. Lame. I thought XPath folk would have defined this.PermalinkCommentsmicrosoft msdn xpath xml article

Old Miscellaneous Thoughts

2007 Dec 26, 5:45Miscellaneous thoughts I had that would have been relevant many months ago:
PermalinkCommentspopfly apple personal history-channel indiana-jones pipes mac technical microsoft mashup yahoo nontechnical

Theme Options

2007 Dec 24, 12:41These days it seems like there's a social sharing website for everything representable as bits. Like Scribd for (mostly legal) documents, SciVee for scientific research videos, Wordie for words, and Kuler for color themes. Kuler seems like a ridiculous website (overkill) but I had been meaning to update my homepage's color design and Kuler has an RSS based REST API. The API lets you obtain things like the most recently added color themes or the most popular or all themes containing the color dark red, etc... So of course rather than update my website's design I hooked up my css to the color themes coming out of Kuler. Select my main page's color theme from a list of random Kuler themes. As I'm sure the regular readers can guess I use an xslt and blah blah blah... It looks OK with Silver Surfer and Happy Hipo but in general changing the colors this way doesn't produce something pretty.

When reading about Kuler I found that they may have stolen the whole idea wholeslae from ColourLovers. They discuss the thievery in an article on their blog. I would have switched over to ColourLovers out of principle but they don't have an easily accessible API.PermalinkCommentscolourlovers color xslt theme homepage technical kuler design

Windows Media Center and Zune Integration Hack

2007 Nov 28, 1:23One of the new Zune features that had me the most excited was the claimed improved Windows Media Center integration which unfortunately turned out to simply mean support for the Win MCE video format (with an exception for HD). I wanted to be able to pick shows recorded by my Win MCE and have the Zune automatically sync up the latest episodes. However, with the improved podcast support in the Zune software one can easily create a ridiculous hack to accomplish this.

The new Zune software has podcast support which does everything I'd want to do with a Win MCE recorded TV series so the goal is to shoehorn a TV series into a Zune podcast. An overview of the steps: Create an XSLT that converts Win MCE data to a podcast, run the XSLT as a scheduled task every few hours per TV series, setup a Web server pointed at the resulting podcasts and the Win MCE Recorded TV directory, and subscribe to the resulting podcasts in the Zune software.
  1. Reading through the Win MCE data stored as an XML file in "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\eHome\Recording\Recordings.xml" and the spec for podcasts I created an XSLT to convert a series from Win MCE data to a podcast.
  2. I added a new task to the Scheduled Tasks to run my XSLT using my xsltproc.js script. The task runs a handful of commands that look something like the following:

    C:\windows\system32\wscript.exe C:\users\dave\bin\xsltproc.js C:\Users\Dave\Documents\trunk\development\mce-zune\mce-to-podcast.xslt C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\eHome\Recording\Recordings.xml --param title "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" --param max 4 --param baseURI "http://groucho/" --param thisRelURI "tds.xml" -o "D:\recorded tv\tds.xml"

    For each TV series I run a command like the above and that outputs a podcast for that series into my "D:\Recorded TV\" directory.
  3. Zune only allows http URIs for its podcasts so I installed a web server on my Win MCE server. I'm running Vista Ultimate so it was quick and easy for me to install IIS7 but any Web server will do. Then I pointed it at "D:\Recorded TV\".
  4. Once all the above was done I just subscribed to the resulting podcasts via my Web server and viola! Since I'm forced to use a Web server I can even run the Zune software on a machine other than my Win MCE server. You can see a screen-shot above of my Zune software showing my Colbert Report podcast.
PermalinkCommentstechnical xml mce hack windows media center zune windows xslt podcast

FoaF on my Homepage

2007 Oct 14, 3:12I've updated my homepage by moving stuff about me onto a separate About page. Creating the About page was the perfect opportunity to get FoaF, a machine readable way of describing yourself and your friends, off my to do list. I have a base FoaF file to which I add friends, projects, and accounts from delicious using an XSLT. This produces the FoaF XML resource on which I use another XSLT to convert into HTML and produce the About page.

I should also mention a few FoaF pages I found useful in doing this: PermalinkCommentstechnical xml foaf personal xslt xsl homepage

XSL Identity Transfom

2007 Oct 12, 4:08As noted in the XSL Transformations spec you can create the identity transform using the xsl:copy element. With the MSXML implementation of xsl:copy the example the spec gives produces slightly ugly elements. For instance given it produces . In order to ensure empty elements turn out pretty I've modified the example as follows:
    
        
            
                
                    
                
            
            
                
                    
                
            
        
    

This got me thinking about inverting XSLTs. Clearly in general an XSLT isn't invertible since an XSLT can completely ignore the input XML and produce something else entirely but then the above is an example of an XSLT that is invertible. So there is a subset of XSLTs that are invertible, how might you produce the inverse of an XSLT, and would this ever be useful?PermalinkCommentsxml msxml inverse xlst xsl

[rdfweb-dev] XSLTs for FOAF, Spring v1.3.1 and plans for FOAF spec improvements

2007 Oct 9, 4:41Notes on using XSLT on FOAF XML files. Apparently its not super simple due to the various equivalent ways of representing the same RDF in XML.PermalinkCommentsxml foaf xslt xsl reference rdf semanticweb

XSL Transforms in JavaScript

2007 Oct 7, 4:12In a previous post I mentioned an xsltproc like js file I made. As noted in that post, on Windows you can write console script files in JavaScript, name them foo.js, and execute them from the command prompt. I later found that MSDN has an XSLT javascript sample which looks similar to mine, but I like mine better for the XSLT parameter support and having a non-ridiculous way of interpreting filenames. The code for my xsltproc.js follows. The script is very simple and demonstrates the ease with which you can manipulate these system objects and all it takes is opening up notepad.
var createNewXMLObj = function() {
   var result = new ActiveXObject("MSXML2.FreeThreadedDOMDocument");
   result.validateOnParse = false;
   result.async = false;
   return result;
}

var args = WScript.arguments;
var ofs = WScript.CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject");

var xslParams = [];
var xmlStyle = null;
var xmlInput = null;
var inputFile = null;
var outputFile = null;
var error = false;

for (var idx = 0; idx < args.length && !error; ++idx)
   if (args.item(idx) == "-o") {
      if (idx + 1 < args.length) {
         outputFile = ofs.GetAbsolutePathName(args.item(idx + 1));
         ++idx;
      }
      else
         error = true;
   }
   else if (args.item(idx) == "--param" || args.item(idx) == "-param") {
      if (idx + 2 < args.length) {
         xslParams[args.item(idx + 1)] = args.item(idx + 2);
         idx += 2;
      }
      else
         error = true;
   }
   else if (xmlStyle == null) {
      xmlStyle = createNewXMLObj();
      xmlStyle.load(ofs.GetAbsolutePathName(args.item(idx)));
   }
   else if (xmlInput == null) {
      inputFile = ofs.GetAbsolutePathName(args.item(idx));
      xmlInput = createNewXMLObj();
      xmlInput.load(inputFile);
   }

if (xmlStyle == null || xmlInput == null || error) {
   WScript.Echo('Usage:\n\t"xsltproc" xsl-stylesheet input-file\n\t\t["-o" output-file] *["--param" name value]');
}
else {
   var xslt = new ActiveXObject("MSXML2.XSLTemplate.3.0");
   xslt.stylesheet = xmlStyle;
   var xslProc = xslt.createProcessor();
   xslProc.input = xmlInput;

   for (var keyVar in xslParams)
      xslProc.addParameter(keyVar, xslParams[keyVar]);

   xslProc.transform();

   if (outputFile == null)
      WScript.Echo(xslProc.output);
   else {
      var xmlOutput = createNewXMLObj();
      xmlOutput.loadXML(xslProc.output);
      xmlOutput.save(outputFile);
   }
}
PermalinkCommentsjs xml jscript windows xslt technical xsltproc wscript xsl javascript

Initiate XSLT in a Script

2007 Oct 3, 9:34How to do XML parsing and XSL transforms via Window's jscript shell.PermalinkCommentsmicrosoft script xml xslt jscript howto

XSLT Standard Library

2007 Sep 27, 12:01Another open effort to produce an XSLT library that does some standard things you might want like string manipulation, URI combining, etc etcPermalinkCommentsxsl xslt reference library xml xpath proramming api

EXSLT

2007 Sep 26, 11:57Free XSLT Extension libraries to support things like date/time conversions, string manipulation, etc.PermalinkCommentsxslt xsl api xpath xml library extension programming free development

Video Woes

2007 Aug 15, 3:30I've been experimenting with adding video to my webpage. I tried to embed video in my livejournal blog posts previously however ran into some issues with that. When creating the LJ post I added an tag but when I submit that tags turned into an PermalinkCommentstechnical youtube video personal livejournal homepage
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