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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

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

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

Two-for Script File

2007 Aug 6, 5:40I was messing with the XSLT to XSL Converter source which is a javascript file that can be run with cscript.exe. I've changed it to be like a very basic version of xsltproc that simply runs an XML file through an XSLT. I also wanted to run this from the command prompt without writing "cscript ..." everytime. I decided to make like perl programmers I've seen and make a JS file that works as a batch file and a JS file at the same time.

Here's a basic version of what I ended doing applied to a 'hello world' script named helloworld.cmd:
/* 2> NUL
@echo off
cscript /e:javascript /nologo "%~f0" %*
@goto :eof

    Hello World
        Says 'Hello world.' when you run it.
*/

var outText = 'Hello world.';
WScript.Echo(outText);
Running this on a command prompt gives the following:
C:\Users\davris>helloworld

C:\Users\davris>/*  2>NUL
Hello world.

However, after a little more experimentation I found this was slightly overkill for my purposes since if I rename the file to helloworld.js and just type its name like a command it is run by cscript:
C:\Users\davris>helloworld
Microsoft (R) Windows Script Host Version 5.7
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Hello world.

So this time I didn't need all that but if ever in the future I need to run a batch file then a JS file I can do it with one file...PermalinkCommentscmd js technical cscript batch xslt xsl javascript

IE7 Feed Display Update

2007 May 22, 3:22I've created an update to the IE7 feed display.

After working on my update to the XML source view I tried running my resourcelist program on other IE DLLs including ieframe. I found that one of the resources in ieframe is the XSLT used to turn an RSS feed into the IE7 feed display.

My first thought for this was that I could embed enclosures into the feed display. For instance, have controls for youtube.com videos or podcast audio files directly in the feed display. However, I found that I can't use object or embed tags that rely on ActiveX controls in the page or in frames in the feed display.

With that through I decided I could at least add support for some RSS extensions. Thanks to IE7's RSS platform which provides a normalized view of RSS feeds it was really easy to do this. I went to several popular RSS feeds and RSS feeds that I like and took a look at the source to see what extensions I might want to add support for.

For digg.com I added support for their RSS extension which includes digg count, and submitter name and icon. I added the digg count in a box on the right and tried to make it fit in stylistically. For the iTunes RSS extension I add the feed icon, feed author, and descriptions. I was surprised by how much of the podcasts content was missing from the feed view. I also added support for a few other misc things: the slash RSS extension's section and department, the feed description to the top of the feed display, and the atom author icon.

I wonder what other goodies lurk in IE's resources...PermalinkCommentsfeed res slashdot digg resource itunes technical browser ie rss extension

XPointer Framework - IE7 XML Source View Upgrade Part 3

2007 May 17, 5:16Previously I created some resource tools and then I used them to overwrite msxml3's XML source view. In this update I've added support for the XPointer Framework.

This time around I've started to add support for the XPointer Framework to my XML source view and I've added installation instructions. The framework consists of a series of pointer segments each of which has a scheme name followed by data in parenthesis. For example 'scheme1(data1)scheme2(data2)scheme3(data3)'. A pointer segment resolves to a portion of the XML document based on the data and the scheme name. The whole pointer resolves to the first segment that successfully resolves. That is, from the example, if scheme1 resolves to nothing and scheme2 resolves to something then that's used and scheme3 is ignored. In addition to the framework I've added support for the xmlns scheme which binds namespace prefixes to a namespace URI and the element scheme which is a simple way to resolve to particular elements in an XML. I also have limited support for the xpointer scheme the content of which is resolved as an XPath with some extra functions (which I don't support -- hence the limited). I've also thrown in schemes for the two SelectionLanguage values supported by msxml3.

Next time I might try to support the xpointer functions that aren't in xpath using msxml script. But I think I'm losing steam on this project... we'll see.PermalinkCommentsresource technical xml xpointer res xpath xslt

New XSLT - IE7 XML Source View Upgrade Part 2

2007 May 11, 8:55Last time, I had written some resource tools to allow me to view and modify Windows module resources in my ultimate and noble quest to implement the XML content-type fragment in IE7. Using the resource tools I found that MSXML3.DLL isn't signed and that I can replace the XSLT embedded resource with my own, which is great news and means I could continue in my endevour. In the following I discuss how I came up with this replacement for IE7's XML source view.

At first I thought I could just modify the existing XSLT but it turns out that it isn't exactly an XSLT, rather its an IE5 XSL. I tried using the XSL to XSLT converter linked to on MSDN, however the resulting document still requires manual modification. But I didn't want to muck about in their weird language and I figured I could write my own XSLT faster than I could figure out how theirs worked.

I began work on the new XSLT and found it relatively easy to produce. First I got indenting working with all the XML nodes represented appropriately and different CSS classes attached to them to make it easy to do syntax highlighting. Next I added in some javascript to allow for closing and opening of elements. At this point my XSLT had the same features as the original XSL.

Next was the XML mimetype fragment which uses XPointer, a framework around various different schemes for naming parts of an XML document. I focused on the XPointer scheme which is an extended version of XPath. So I named my first task as getting XPaths working. Thankfully javascript running in the HTML document produced by running my XSLT on an XML document has access to the original XML document object via the document.XMLDocument property. From this this I can execute XPaths, however there's no builtin way to map from the XML nodes selected by the XPath to the HTML elements that I produced to represent them. So I created a recursive javascript function and XSLT named-template that both produce the same unique strings based on an XML node's position in the document. For instance 'a3-e2-e' is the name produced for the 3rd attribute of the second element of the root element of the XML document. When producing the HTML for an XML node, I add an 'id' attribute to the HTML with the unique string of the XML node. Then in javascript when I execute an XPath I can discover the unique string of each node in the selected set and map each of them to their corresponding positions in the HTML.

With the hard part out of the way I changed the onload to get the fragment of the URI of the current document, interpret it as an XPath and highlight and navigate to the selected nodes. I also added an interactive floating bar from which you can enter your own XPaths and do the same. On a related note, I found that when accessing XML files via the file URI scheme the fragment is stripped off and not available to the javascript.

The next steps are of course to actually implement XPointer framework parsing as well as the limited number of schemes that the XPointer framework specifies.PermalinkCommentsxml xpointer msxml res xpath xslt resource ie7 technical browser ie xsl

Resource Tools - IE7 XML Source View Upgrade Part 1

2007 May 9, 4:15I read about text/xml URI fragment resolution a few months ago. I was interested to find another kind of fragment reference other than the text/html URI fragment but of course I didn't find an implementation in IE, Firefox, or Opera. I decided to see how much work would be required to implement this in IE.

In IE and Firefox when you open an XML file that doesn't have an XML stylesheet the XML source is rendered with syntax highlighting. In IE I also noticed that the gold bar appears when you open an XML file off of your local machine. To me this suggested that the XML source was being rendered as HTML which I assumed was produced by running an XSLT on the source XML file. If so, I figured I could modify the XSLT to implement text/xml URI fragments. I ran FileMon to see if iexplore.exe loaded an XSLT file when opening an XML file. Only the XML file and MSXML3.DLL were opened and no XSLTs were loaded as files. My next hope for modifying the XSLT was if it existed as a resource in MSXML3.DLL. I did a findstr on the DLL for SCRIPT and found an XSLT so I decided to check for resources in MSXML3.DLL. Unfortunately my previous resource viewer didn't work correctly so I decided to write my own.

I created resource tools to view and modify resources in Windows modules. The viewer outputs HTML with links to the individual resources of a module using the res URI scheme that's built into IE. The modifier is a simple command line tool that replaces or adds one resource at a time to a module.

Using these tools I found that the XSLT was stored as a resource in MSXML3.DLL. I'll talk more about the existing XSLT and the one I replaced it with next time.PermalinkCommentsresource technical xml msxml res xslt xsl

Moved to Server-Side Scripting

2007 Jan 19, 9:15I've moved my homepage to server-side scripting. Previously I've mentioned that I was using client side scripting to interpret and sort my livejournal and delicious entries together. Now I'm using PHP and XSLTs to process and sort my livejournal, delicious, flickr, and librarything entries. See my homepage for the finished result.
LibraryThing is pretty cool despite being pretty niche. Its like flickr but for books. I display a random sampling of the covers of books I have listed in librarything on my page. I've also hooked the display of the covers of my book up to the corner image. Now when you hover over the cover of a book a bigger picture of its cover appears in the corner of the webpage. Also, flickr entries in the main section how have the same on hover behavior.
This may not be the best use of my time, but its still fun.PermalinkCommentslibrarything xslt delicious homepage flickr technical php livejournal script
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