June 2009

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Webhaven is proud to be involved with the Open Source Days - Community day in Copenhagen. We are working as a contributor for the event and excited to announce guests flying in from Berlin & USA to support the Pike stand and present talks on Pike projects.

Locale M5

10:30 - 10:50

Bill Welliver: Fins – A Modern Web Development Framework

Arne Gödeke and Matt Hardy: A chat software with a difference.

By implementing a new protocol in Pike and building plug and play modules for Roxen WebServer, and providing an entry level Javascript client, we have created a Release Candidate for general download. (available 24th October 2009)

Our methods are innovative, leveraging off often overlooked features in HTTP and using javascript with document object model objects & js GUI frameworks. Come and see how this project could help create a small footprint chat system for your environment.
Expect download links at Community Day

 

Date & Location

Date: 24 october 2009
Place: Symbion
Fruebjergvej 3
2100 København Ø
Denmark


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Read more on OSD

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Open Source Days happens in Copenhagen, Denmark - 24th October 2009. We are going to be there talking about Pike, what it means to develop in Pike on an Open Source WebServer + release some Pike code into the wild...

Also - we have announced the second annual Webhaven User Conference to be held on the same day. Please see our home page for the announcement and instructions on how to get involved.

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We wanted to know if innerHTML is worth keeping in some of our ajaxified sections in Jobtask... initially it looked to me from the tests that DOM methods are slower on IE/Opera & Firefox in latest versions. However, there was a big surprise waiting for us...

To our surprise, the clear winner appeared to be Safari 4. Not only is this browser faster at rendering DOM methods, it is so much faster there is really almost no excuse to not use it on OS X or Windows XP.

Check this link: http://www.quirksmode.org/dom/innerhtml.html

Follow the instructions on your browser of choice and see what you come up with...
All results on Windows XP installed on a Parallels virtual machine, with not huge amounts of ram...
I am not sure how to explain the significantly faster Safari - it is clearly miles ahead of the other 2 major browsers on the market. 

Safari 4.

Method      Time         Average Time       Index


 

Firefox 3.5

 

IE 8.0

 

We tested each browser alone, on a fresh reboot, and even tried opera and chrome (both were about the same as firefox3.5). 
If anyone can confirm my results, please let me know. Safari is so much faster I actually can't believe it...

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First great thing to be seen in Firefox 3.6 is the lightning speed at which it loads webpages, wow, it is snappy.
Infact, so snappy that my one-one thousand, two-one thousand test was left consistently at one...

I am looking forward to this release not because of the speed but because our users will experience our systems as they were intended - fast, responsive and consistent.

When Firefox 3.6 is released we already recommend you upgrade.

(This article written using Firefox3.6Alpha on Editmaster)

Note: the browser is so fast that the publish date of this article was set to NZT, a day into the future... It kinda felt right.

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We are blogging on Editmaster. Editmaster is our CMS product that provides a really nice and easy way to keep your website up-to-date.

This new feature is available as a plugin to the CMS, it can even become the main feature of your site. Great news for those people wanting tighter integration between services used for online communication needs. Login once, access all your stuff on Jobtask.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

 

Here at Webhaven we use Linux for all our production servers. The compelling reason for this is stability, then security, then distribution of management ie. Can manage from anywhere on the Internet... Our systems are hardened, essential services only systems ie. no gui.

Now we see Google is releasing an OS distribution codenamed Chrome OS, designed for speed and security. The best thing about this announcement is the use of linux + a huge marketing budget/engine and the collective reputation for future seeing culture.

By definition, the OS will be open source at the foundation. This means basic security auditing can take place, and security will likely be higher due to transparency of code. Great for the layperson.

The linux movement has a lot to answer for... There are so many OS systems out there  that the consumer is spoiled for choice, or, confused... 90% of the world still see 'the linux' as an alien pet, until... xubuntu ...

I think I discovered an oxymoron in the strap-line for this particular distribution. Furthermore, according to xubuntu, 'the linux' is a little mouse! I had pet mice when I was 10 and I really loved Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nihm .

It has been hard for any basic Mac or Windows user to serious consider linux operating systems without a serious moment of enlightenment, or agnostic opinion on conformity... Besides, most retail shops sell Windows Vista - and that is it!

What is really cool in the next step of linux operating system movements like Chrome OS is that the on-to-it factor will emerge for users like never before thanks to the credibility that Google may provide the mass-market. The justification behind using linux will be so well understood that people will actually start demanding this OS (kernel) as opposed to Windows (or OS X?! hard to imagine) and those that already use a linux distribution will be quietly relieved from further scathing comments or sideways looks as experienced over the last 15years...

I mean, when we started using gmail, hotmail became so yesterday... rather, so last decade. People started to wonder why on earth would anyone keep using hotmail... right? The same might be said of Chrome OS versus Vista in 2 years time, but more importantly, what will Chrome OS do for the reputation of linux kernels versus Windows. The support of such a successful, helpful and seemingly future looking company like Google could propel the linux kernel into the same arena as OS X, touted as the worlds most advance OS. 

Microsoft will have to reassess their marketing approach, and try to justify why you would possibly want to use that OS, in the same way as xubuntu is doing now. We suggest some marketing slogans for MSN here, if you have been to New Zealand you will recognise these...

Windows, more than you'd expect
Absolutely positively, Windows
Windows, a kernel so good they built an OS around it

I will end this entry on a quote from the notorious Steve Jobs - notorious because he is rumoured as a hard task master, but does have a few points to make... 

“The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste; they have absolutely no taste. And what that means is–I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way–in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas and they don’t bring much culture into their product. And you say ‘Why is that important?’ Well, you know, proportionally spaced fonts come from typesetting and beautiful books, that’s where one gets the idea. If it weren’t for the Mac, they would never have that in their products. And so I guess I am saddened, not by Microsoft’s success–I have no problem with their success, they’ve earned their success, for the most part–I have a problem with the fact that they just make really third-rate products.”
 
“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

 

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We are really excited about running a more sustainable business - well, more sustainable for certain things like paperless storage. Sure, the archivist cringes when the word 'paperless' is used, but for purely practical things like invoicing a government, there are savings to be made...

or are there...

Here in Denmark we have been required to send government electronic invoices and credit notes since 2005. 

We are in the process of integrating electronic invoicing into Jobtask and have come across the first hurdle - what is warmly known as VANS (Value Added Network Services)... It is really simple, simply make your data into a standard format OIOXML  and send for processing to a group of private authorised providers. ie. IBM.

An individual can go to www.virk.dk/efak  and send the danish government an invoice, as long as you have a CPR/CVR number. But there seems to be a gap in the uploading of a digital file, ie. OIOXML formatted data file - yep, you can not easily prevent double entry.

We definitely see great benefit in the VANS system and will be reporting our progress in introducing automated sending of OIOXML formatted invoices to Kommune and Ministry's as soon as the tools are ready. But we see it likely that the VANS network will stand in the way for now. It should be as easy as sending an email...

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Have you ever lamented (via twitter perhaps) the number of clickity-click clicks that you have to do to run your web-based ERP system? At last there is wide support of the widely know Javascript functionality. That's right, IE now has wide support for the most basic of needs, a keyboard shortcut inside a web-application. 

We have jumped on the chance, of course, to roll out some new features in Jobtask including keyboard shortcuts. From listening to people in various forums, it is clear that keyboard access is a highly desirable feature in an ERP system, without affecting performance.

For those who like to Tab, tab, tab + enter (return for mac guys), or simply define unique keys for functions that normally demanded a click of the mouse, the wait is over.

We applaud the latest round of updates to all browsers that support this javascript feature. Most have for years but because IE is now doing it, life for most web users will become even easier.

Keyboard access is supported* by:

Firefox 2+
Safari 4+
Opera 9+
Chrome 1+
IE 8+ Just discovered that this browser is odd one out...

Mac and Windows browsers are tested, but I would bet a dollar that Firefox on Linux will support keyboard access too.

* From our own tests.

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It was a novel idea in the days before IE 8 that a web designer could set a font to be 10px in IE, and the user could not enlarge the typeface. Mac users never suffered this fate, and I think older Firefox did not set font size into stone either, but judging from the stats, 85% of users suffered this potentially illegible type size. Now, things have become a lot better, without much ado.

I recently upgraded to the latest macbook pro, which comes with a pinch, push gesture on the track pad.

Turns out the gestures are really useful in zooming into PDFs in Preview, but this category in our blog is about browsers... I do like to increase font size when reading detailed content, as opposed to scanning/skimming, which is my normal technique.

In my focus on building various sites, I had also actually neglected to notice that the new zoom method simply zooms into the design/text without breaking apart a design. To my surprise, it is a definite improvement.

So I tested some browsers to see who was doing it.

Firefox3+
Safari4
IE 8
Opera 9

All have this new feature. What a relief to the designers wanting to ensure accessibility without compromising their layouts. Most use crtl+ + or command + + for the mac, and - to decrease.

Happy zooming  :)

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Internet Explorer

IE 8 was released March year and we think it is a very reliable, smart looking and fast browser.

In fact, Microsoft say it is faster than Firefox and Chrome... 

Unfortunately Webhaven International and more specifically our software - Jobtask & Editmaster were not in the speed tests.

So, we have decided to do a real-world test of our own. We used 5 browsers in our test to determine which has the least bugs, is the fastest and more importantly, easiest to use to get the job done.

How we test, methodology...

  1. Because this was real world testing, we decided human response time is an effective way to gauge which browser is fastest. 
    We chose the parachute method - count a steady one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand etc. Then, cut the words to where the test finishes, ie. one-one-thou/ or one-one-thousand:two-one/ - but abbreviate the count until the last 1,2,three-one/. Then we highlight the winner like the above chart from microsoft + highlight second and second equal (as it turned out).

 

 

The Tests

Webhaven.eu or webhaveninternational.com
Distance to server is about 10km, bandwidth was wi-fi 150Mbps, on a 20Mbps down ADSL line.

Cold start

IE 8 Firefox 3 Opera 9 Safari 4 Chrome 1
 1,2,3,four-one-thou/  1,2,3,4,5,6,7,eight-one-thousand/  1,2,3,four-one/  1,2,3,4,five-one-thousand  1,two-one-thousand

 

Warm start

IE 8 Firefox 3 Opera 9 Safari 4 Chrome 1
 1,two-one-thousand  1,two-one-thousand  one-one-thousand one-one-thousand  one-one-thou/

 

Load webhaven.eu

IE 8 Firefox 3 Opera 9 Safari 4 Chrome 1
 1,two-one-thousand 1,two-one-thousand  one-one-thousand one-one-thousand  one-one-thou/

 

Click to second page after loading initially

IE 8 Firefox 3 Opera 9 Safari 4 Chrome 1
one-one-thou/ one-one-thou/ one-one-th/ one-one/ one-one-th/

 

Jobtask login page

IE 8 Firefox 3 Opera 9 Safari 4 Chrome 1
one-one-thou/ 1,two-on/ one-one-th/ 1,two-one/ one-one-thou/ 

 

Jobtask default module

IE 8 Firefox 3 Opera 9 Safari 4 Chrome 1
one-one-thous/ one-one-thousand/ 1,two/ 1,two-one-th/ one-one-thous/

 

Jobtask search for 25 records

IE 8 Firefox 3 Opera 9 Safari 4 Chrome 1
one-one-thou/ one-one-thousand/ 1,two-one-thousand/ one-one-th/ one-one-thou/

 

Jobtask preview record

IE 8 Firefox 3 Opera 9 Safari 4 Chrome 1
1,two-one/ 1,two/ 1,two-one-thousand/ one-one-thous/ one-one-thous/ 

 

Jobtask edit record

IE 8 Firefox 3 Opera 9 Safari 4 Chrome 1
1,two-one-thousa/ 1,two-one-thou 1,2,three-one/ 1,two-one-thou 1,two-one/

 

Jobtask close record

IE 8 Firefox 3 Opera 9 Safari 4 Chrome 1
1,two/ 1,two/ 1,two/ one-one-thousand/

1,t/

 

Jobtask logout

IE 8 Firefox 3 Opera 9 Safari 4 Chrome 1
one-o/ one/ one/ one-o/ o/

 

Conclusions

From our tests we can see a general trend toward the newer browsers in the Internet Browser War. However, it became obvious to us during the testing that a count of under 3 was basically instantaneous for a user.

From our own understanding of how response times are recognised by users we think that every browser is within acceptable parameters for using our website and, more importantly, our flagship software Jobtask.

http://www.useit.com/papers/responsetime.html
"The basic advice regarding response times has been about the same for thirty years [Miller 1968; Card et al. 1991]:
0.1 second is about the limit for having the user feel that the system is reacting instantaneously, meaning that no special feedback is necessary except to display the result.
1.0 second is about the limit for the user's flow of thought to stay uninterrupted, even though the user will notice the delay. Normally, no special feedback is necessary during delays of more than 0.1 but less than 1.0 second, but the user does lose the feeling of operating directly on the data.
10 seconds is about the limit for keeping the user's attention focused on the dialogue. For longer delays, users will want to perform other tasks while waiting for the computer to finish, so they should be given feedback indicating when the computer expects to be done. Feedback during the delay is especially important if the response time is likely to be highly variable, since users will then not know what to expect."

We know that the current Jobtask & Webhaven website server processes requests at speeds approaching 0sec, like .005/sec. So the actual packet/data transfer and browser rendering likely remains the bottle neck.

We also think that if we used a hard ethernet cable connection, the load time speeds would basically be brought down to <1sec for all tested browsers, having reduced wireless latency issues. So it is safe to say that we comply with acceptable response times described by Jacob Nielson at useit. [Miller, 1968].

So the general reality for web users would probably come down to decisions not completely linked to speed, perhaps based on usability behaviours in a specific browser, or the overall cost of ownership. Certainly, the newer technologies stand out with snappiness, this shows even in our estimations, but IE 8 keeps up just fine, even winning one test. I remain unsure how Microsoft arrived at their times, but we still think IE 8 is a good improvement.

For further dialogue on this please feel free to comment.


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