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PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.


I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!


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Browser-based slideshows in XML: AJAX-S

I'm a long-time fan of Eric Meyer's S5 browser-based presentation system. (In fact, I've been working on a TextMate bundle for it. Though the code to produce an individual slide is very simple, it still can be a bit fussy when you're producing a lot of them.)

Robert Nyman's new AJAX-S system is unabashedly inspired by S5, but places slide content in a separate XML file that then gets rendered into HTML by Javascript.

For a first-day, prototype effort, it's really impressive. I think Robert should have chosen a more low-key name, though ("Spud" is my suggestion). The term "Ajax" sets up a lot of flashy-GUI expectations. Flashy GUI tricks wouldn't be out of place in a presentation solution, but they aren't present in this first version. I can see the Slashdot comments now.

In case you're curious, here's some example XML for a slide in AJAX-S:

    <heading>About ZomboCom</heading>
        <paragraph>This is ZomboCom.</paragraph>
        <paragraph>We enable stuff.</paragraph>

Here's an analogous slide as it might be done in S5:

<div class="slide">
    <h1>About ZomboCom</h1>
    <p>This is ZomboCom.</p>
    <img src='images/zombocom.gif' alt='logo' />
    <p>We enable stuff.</p>

So it doesn't win on concision, and in general has a lot of maturing to do to catch up to S5, and has some sharp edges like requiring embedded HTML to be entity-fied or placed inside a CDATA block. But I think the potential for this idea is huge. If you're running IE 6 or a Mozilla-based browser, check out the demo now.

Sunday, November 13th, 2005

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