Thursday, 14 December 2006

What is it with plus addressing!

I forewarn you this post will undoubtedly sound like a rant, that's because it is. Plus addressing a wonderful thing, if you don't know what it is then in a few words its the ability to add a plus then a word after your email alias and it still go to the same mail box. For example, is treated as Now what makes this interesting is that you can use the +bit to apply mailbox filtering, for instance I receive all the debug and error emails for the websites i have developed in the past and host. Now rather than them all point to and have to filter manually I can simply add a + and a handler for each site, thus allowing easy mail management. Let's not stop there, you can have to give to those sites that you have to setup an account with just to view some article that you'll only ever use once and not have to worry about it. Wow amazing you may be thinking, but whats the catch... Some mail servers and in particular some websites don't support it. Even worse, some websites have badly coded javascript email address checkers that chuck a huge angry error message accusing you of trying to break their systems by providing an invalid email address, when of course you are providing a very legitimate one. This is where the problem lies, the Internet community as a whole are unwilling to sort out their code and mail servers to provide I feel an invaluable function which would make my, and I'm sure other peoples, lives easier. Tonight I was testing out some code I have been developing and decided to use plus addressing as i didn't really want to send loads of junk to my personal account just catch it and file it, however my CPanel based Linux Hosting doesn't handle this and kept bouncing the emails back as invalid mailboxes. I was very confused how it was an invalid host and decided to contact my hosting and email provider about the issue, to start off with they didn't even know what plus addressing was! I could tell that I was going to get a good answer and after a bit of time I established with the provider that the CPanel system running on the Linux servers didn't handle +'s. It treats +'s as another form of an @. So my was being handled as At this point i was astounded, how can such a system exist and be deployed so globally and no one care about this. Further to say I was far from happy about this and seriously considered moving provider, but the effort level was too much. I then thought hey my Gmail accounts sat doing nothing lets try it on that. The good news is that Gmail does support plus addressing and I was able to test my code as I needed, but the fact remains why do people put up with so many sites and hosts not supporting plus addressing, if we all started bugging our hosting providers and email webmasters when their sites don't work properly things may change. Then again I wouldn't count on it. Now before I leave you with some useful links on plus addressing I should add that I did find a work around for my CPanel plus addressing issues, that was to turn on the catch all option on my domain, this however I decided was not a good idea so chose to leave it. Good Plus Addressing Resources: Anders Jacobsen's blog - What is Plus Addressing - Good Old Wikipedia - A PHP Based Email Validator -

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

It's all about the kitchen sink...

Well I came home to find that our friends over at Google have made public their "Web Toolkit". Very exciting news, well so I thought. Now I'm very big on Ajax and I want to see it used more wide spread, infact at the moment im developing 2 Ajax powered applications, one in ASP.Net 2 and one in PHP using the SAJAX. More on those when I get time, the point I'm trying to make is that making the development of such applications easier is almost a God send. So far I have explored the Web Toolkit using the demo's provided over at and taking a peak at some of the source code. Before I highlight some of the features of the toolkit I need to first and foremost state something that has bothered me since I first read the Official Google Blog.... "Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is an open source Java software development framework". Now with out trying to put a dampener on things does anyone else thing that developing web applications in Java and then compiling it into HTML and JavaScript seem insane to anyone?? I've written many an application in Java but never have i conceived or even given a second thought to writing a website/application in it and then compile it to HTML and JavaScript. However before I give up on Google's Toolkit its probably worth looking into it further and seeing what it can actually do. Enter our Kitchen Sink, the first demo I tried out was the Kitchen Sink which shows off everything. Now I won't bore everyone by going into every aspect in great detail but to give an overview the Google Toolkit does do some cool bits and pieces, I personally liked the way it implements tabs, funky popups that look more like something that should be in a desktop application and the tree structure. Now you may be thinking haven't I seen alot of this before else where, and in the Yahoo YUI library. It's true you probably have but Google has at least in the demo's made it look good and shows how easy it is to do, thus provoking alot of thoughts and ideas from this simple web developer anyway. Now the secret of the Google Toolkit is that it wraps everything up for you, all you will have to do is develop these Web 2.0 apps in Java, all the hard work and headaches to do with browser compatibility is handled by the toolkit's compiler. You can write in classes and be as object oriented as you like. This does sound great, as well as being able to use Eclipse and having a full debugger on hand but I some how feel code ownership and knowing exactly whats going on with ones code is being taken away. Maybe this isn't such a bad thing, if we all start developing better and compliant code maybe our support teams will have an easier job, who knows. As I mentioned earlier at present I have only dabbled with the toolkit. So far I have mixed feelings, learning to develop in Java again will frustrate some but will excite others, a lot of its features many will have seen else where, but the fact remains it appears to be wrapped up very nicely and with the Google machine backing it and it being Open source and all that should mean its kept up to date and any issues that crop up should be resolved swiftly. Before I make my final judgement on this latest offering from the Google machine I intend to spend some time using it, getting to grips with it and developing with it. I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised and enjoy developing in Java again ...

Sunday, 3 December 2006

Four Geeks, a road trip and a conference

Well here I am writing my first post on my new blog. With any luck this new one will be kept upto date and be of use to the world. This weekend the Developer Developer Developer community was holding its fourth conference at Microsoft UK in Reading. 4 of us at New Mind went down on Friday night to be all ready for the conference on Saturday. After a grueling day in work the prospect of a long journey was not welcoming however everyone was in good spirit and after a hearty meal we set off. Now this is where the fun begins :D I brought the works tablet with me and Thom had his new SPV (which Derek was very excited about), a crazy idea of networking these two devices, bridging the SPV's odem to try to get on the net as well trying to access the SPV's built in web server suddenly semmed very appealing as we joined onto the M6. Now sadly after a good hour of faffing with the devices we could only get the wifi network up and access file shares and the tablets web server, tinkering with the SPV's webserver ended up being a no no :( There's always next time. The DDD4 conference was very good, it was my first time at Microsoft and I was very impressed, looks like a nice environment to work in. The hospitality provided by Microsoft was also very good, lots of refreshments and plenty to eat. I attended four sessions and listened to the lunch time grok talkros. Each session trigger some thought proccesses mainly ideas but beneficial none the less. The main thoughts from the sessions were: what an impact using string builder has on .Net performance, i knew it was better but had not seen examples. Ruby on rails is magic but probably not that exciting once you have seen the magic once. The main thing i like about rails is the Database migration stuff, that looked very good and something we could do with in the office. Sarah Blow's session on Web 2.0 although not bringing anything new did highlight how new tech should be used more, having a wiki, blog, podcasts etc should all be brought together and used together rather than a bit here and a bit there. Finally the javascript session clarified objects and how you can bodge namespaces. ! The groktalks were short bursts of interesting tidbits, the MCML stuff looked interesting, the vista speech recognition was very cool and although Thoms was unprepared did highlight a new avenue of web api i hadnt thought about. How jammy was he with winning the MSDN subscription! Overall a good weekend and am looking forward to attending barcamp and the next DDD. Hopefully tomorrow ill finish my template for this blog so it doesnt look so stadard and this week i will post about my recent and current developments with using Ajax in .Net and in more detail in PHP using SAJAX all good fun i can assure you :D