george.james's blog

T-minus one week

SlipstreamUSA, next Wednesday, April 2 is almost with us.

Rob and I are looking forward to meeting everyone who has already signed up. We have an excellent programme for you with an interesting blend of topics from a exceptionally well qualified range of speakers, and possibly a couple of surprises - Rob's hooter might be one of them ;)

My previous blog entry gives you my take on the lineup.

If you haven't signed-up yet, there are just a few places left. Please register here as soon as possible if you plan to attend.

We look forward to seeing you all next week.

T-minus three weeks

Just three weeks to go until our SlipstreamUSA seminar in Orlando. If you haven't already signed up, there is still time, but places are strictly limited so don't delay.

We've got a really good lineup for you. Starting off with David Rapperport talking about the benefits that Quest Diagnostics have reaped from using Ajax as a core component of their Care360 Lab Orders system. This is followed by me talking about what to do with all that data out there on the Internet and discussing the emerging technologies for working with it. Rob Tweed then provides a more in-depth look at two of the these technologies, the S3 and EC2 services from Amazon.

After the BYOB networking break we've got John Bertoglio, a very well known and respected consultant, discussing the importance of UI design in web-based applications. We'll learn how to keep the designer in control and not end up with our applications being at the mercy of the script kiddies ;)

Next up we have Larry Williams from Partners HealthCare telling us about their experiences during the migration of their three-tier application architecture from Windows to Unix. This kind of exercise always brings out some important lessons, and when you operate on the massive scale that Partners do, I'm sure Larry will have lots of interesting stories to tell.

We will wrap up the afternoon with a presentation from Chris Munt whom I'm sure many of you will know is responsible for the fundamental moving parts of both WebLink and CSP. He'll be talking about configuring large scale web-server infrastructures and providing some valuable insights into the inner workings of the various components that make up a web-server farm.

So we've got a nicely rounded and complementary set of presentations for you. They'll give you valuable guidance on how you should be building applications now and in the future. And with perspectives from both subject matter experts and from organisations that have been getting real results in the field, we hope you'll get a well informed and balanced view of what's really possible.

And if all that is not enough, we'll be convening to a restaurant for the evening followed by a designated bar where you'll be able discuss the implications of everything you've learnt late late into the night.

Going beyond REST

On Wednesday 28th November, Skills Matter are presenting a session called Going beyond REST in Clerkenwell, London.

This session is FREE and is slated to describe Resource Oriented Computing (ROC)which is a model that goes beyond REST and unifies a number of diverse but similar principles for treating data as resources. If you enjoyed my talk at Slipstream then you will probably find this interesting.

The presentation will probably also include discussion of NetKernel which is an Open Source implementation of ROC that's based on original research from HP's Dexter project.

Conveniently, it is happening the evening before this event, and is just around the corner. So if you are planning to travel down to London to attend the CAMTA meeting (for my SVG training session, of course) then why not arrive a little earlier, and take in the Skills Matter session.

Register here - it's free.

Google's new OS

I was lucky enough to be one of a small group of people invited along to Google's London offices last Friday for a breakfast briefing. This was right after Thursday's announcement of OpenSocial. We didn't know for sure what was going to be covered, but a combination of leaks and educated guesses meant that most people had figured out that we were going to get more than just a free breakfast.

As I'm sure you know by now, OpenSocial is a social-networking application development API created by Google that is being implemented by pretty much all social networking sites (with the notable exception of Facebook). You can now write applications that will work without modification on MySpace, Orkut, Friendster, Bebo, LinkedIn, Ning, hi5,, and many more. The only social networking site that is not likely to appear in this list any time soon is Facebook, and that's an obvious consequence of Microsoft's recent $240m investment. But even Facebook might have to kowtow to OpenSocial in the long run.

The OpenSocial API gives you the ability to write social-networking applications that can be hosted on any site that supports the API. This "learn once, run anywhere" capability makes it easy to develop functionality that can be used by a combined audience of over 150 million users. This is a one-click reach that puts your application right on the user's home page with no clumsy client-side installation or fiddly account registration to go through.

Suddenly this is the new application development platform kid on the block. At the moment it is billed as a social-networking platform, but from what I've seen there's no impediment to writing any kind of application using the OpenSocial API. Google have chosen to leverage HTML, JavaScript and Ajax, all of which are open and ubiquitous, to create a very rich and flexible platform. By contrast Facebook's platform (FBML), launched a few months ago, is idiomatic, closed and proprietary.

You can now build full function applications that can run inside each of your user's chosen social networking site. No longer do you need to ask users to navigate to your web-site, lead them through tortuous registration and login procedures to a site with its own idiosyncratic behaviour and UI. Just get them to add your application to their own MySpace, Ning or Orkut page. Whether your goal is to provide financial information, retailing, patient appointment booking or any other kind of customer facing service, you can now bring it to them rather than requiring them to come to you. You can have your application right in front of them, logged-on and authenticated whenever and wherever they're on-line. Why would you want to make it any harder than that for your users to run your application?

It's early days and the dust has yet to settle, but it could be that what Google have unleashed here is not just a social-networking platform but something that could grow to become the platform for all application development.

Today Google OS means Google OpenSocial, but sometime in the future it might just mean Google Operating System.

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