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da (1525)

da
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http://coder.com/daniel/
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Linux and perl guy working for the Computer Science department [uwaterloo.ca] at the University of Waterloo [uwaterloo.ca]. For resume check here [coder.com].

Journal of da (1525)

Tuesday June 28, 2005
07:27 AM

YAPC day 1

[ #25403 ]
A review of YAPC day 1.

Larry Wall's keynote was quite high-level and syncretic. He enthused about tensegrity, the engineering design principle that opposing forces properly balanced can provide tension and integrity at the same time. The talk was based on one he was invited to give in Russia, on how to build an open-source community.

Allison Randal's "state of the carrot" was a snapshot of where perl 5 and perl 6 design are right now. I didn't take notes, but there were some perl6 milestones released the day before, and everything seems to be progressing. PUGs has 80% of perl6 features, wow. [edit: This should be corrected to <30% or 10% (based on fraction of design that has test cases to cover it; see Autrijus's note below!)]

When we all split up, I started off in the "Enterprise Workflow" talk by Jim Brandt, which described how he and his group at the U of Buffalo used a few modules to save their University lots of time and money. The modules were: Class::DBI, Data::FormValidator, and CGI::Prototype. I've not actually done coding with Class::DBI, though I've read about it. Some people seem to dislike it intensely, for any sort of difficult projects, because it creates as much work as it saves. But for simple database lookups and manipulation, it seems like a timesaver.

Then, becasue we were running late and I was hungry, I ducked out and got lunch instead of going to the second talk...

For the afternoon, I took the easiest route and went for the session on Kwiki with Brian Ingerson. I probably would've decided differently if all of the talks weren't being recorded, but as it is, the other talks looked more formal and his looked more freeform. Sure enough, he started off by saying he was going to one-up Autrijus who wrote the first half of a talk on the train to the client's site, then wrote the second half during the intermission.

Ingy's talk had the first half written last night at 4am, and the second half was going to be written by us.

Sure enough, the first half he presented slides on the architecture of his freeform wiki.

The thing is entirely plugins based, and has interesting abilities to make plugins interact and do the Right Thing with the least amount of code. He invented a number of techniques from scratch, he says because he's too lazy to research how other people have done things. TIMTOWTDI, right? Yeah. The plan is for the design to be a lego set for perl hackers.

Stuff he wrote that he thinks is cool: 'spiffy': a source-filter that adds 'use warnings' and 'strict' and a trailing '1' to each package file, and 'my $self=shift' to each method (this is turned on if you 'use Spiffy qw( -Base )'. -base won't include those. mixins: anonymous class between base-class and current class. like in Ruby. allows for a simple inheritence chain. Allows you to wedge stuff to replace or enhance methods which were either defined or inherited from a parent-class. And, he wrote a program registry, which is shared between plugins, and has some funky interactions which make sense but I didn't write down how it works, sorry.

He decided, when the plugin modules started exploding in number (there are well over 100 now by over 10 main authors), that CPAN wasn't the optimal way to release, since dependencies and versions make things slow to install. Instead, he recommends checking out his svn.kwiki.org.

Interesting feature: 'kwiki -view [blah]' will create a new kwiki named blah, with its own configuration files, but whose data and metadata are symbolicly linked from the parent directory. So it's easy to set up an admin view with extra features.

Brian's not terribly excited by wikis; they were just a means to playing with these new ideas. Spiffy has universal improvements. Spoon is generic techniques that seem interesting outside Kwiki. and Kwiki is built on Spoon.

Spiffy has a function named 'xxx' which will die at that point and do a stack-trace and some sort of variable dump.

I asked about documentation, which is... sparse... and how one is to start learning this when everything is tied together so intimately. He pointed me at doolittle.kwiki.org, which is a wiki which incorporates all of the POD stripped from the live version; (and I believe, checks the POD back into the SVN for the files) when he releases to CPAN, he does a once-over of doolittle and it gets released along with. So the docs are written by the community. In theory. I haven't taken a look at it yet...

The second half was organized around a pair-programming session with him and Chris Dent, where they built a plugin to do tags, like Delicious. It seemed pretty straight-forward, though, I would have loved to have asked more questions about the bugs they worked through. However, I did learn a bunch about debugging kwiki.

Afterward, I met up with other kw.pm mongers, and agreed we'd meet at Simon's house later for beer and chat, and possibly coding.

I was going to precede that with an RT (request-tracker) BOF, which would've been useful for work, but they left before I could get myself sorted out. I'll have to meet Jesse Vincent later on. So instead, I rode around on a segway for a little bit.

So that was my afternoon. Listening to other peoples' afternoons, I'm glad I went for less-structured. Maybe I'll do the perl6 track on Tuesday. Dunno.

In the evening, Simon, Eric and I set up our laptops and started hacking on Bots and Kwiki. Shuchit, Arguile and Greg came a bit later, and we had really good pizza.

We saw a few Futurama episodes (including the Popplers one, yay) and took the train back.

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  • ...If you visit the slides page and can't figure out how to start the show, try hitting 'return'. The on-screen links have been hidden, but the javascript controls will work. That is, if your browser does javascript. :)
    --

    -DA [coder.com]

  • It's either less than 30% (of all currently designed semantics), or less than 10% (of all semantics there is to come), but 80% is an unfortunate misunderstanding. Allison has probably been misinformed. :-/

    Anyway, I devoted an entire slide [pugscode.org] to adress this. :)

    • Thanks.... I saw that part of your talk today; but didn't remember to correct the writeup to match. (fixed now). ...Guess it's tough when the news outpaces the code...

      Thanks for the talk, it was very engaging as I said in today's writeup, and I'll be getting a thumbnail summary of what I missed afterward from my friend and cohort fishbot/eric...

      --

      -DA [coder.com]