What’s the default browser on your network?

3 08 2009

A post from Tony Hirst on why last weeks IWMW has led him to set up a survey looking at what’s the default browser on your university staff network?

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Whilst at IWMW last week, I noticed that a web application I wanted to demo didn’t work on the IE6 default browser on the local Essex machines. Bearing in mind that many developers on programmes such as the JISC Rapid Innovation strand (#jiscri) are likely to make use of frameworks and libraries that exploit the power of current generation browsers (IE7, FF 2.*) and assume standards compliance, the assumption that support for IE6 will not be required is one that many developers may take, either explicitly or implicitly (e.g. as result of developers not using machines that run IE6).

That is, for rapid innovation and development to work, developers are likely to use contemporary tools. But there’s a problem – if JISC are funding the development of tools and apps for use in HE, they need to run on the installed base of web browsers – hence the poll. If a lot of HEIs are running IE6, and a lot of HE staff use IE6 as their browser, developers creating apps for use by staff are going to have to check that their apps run on IE6. For some, this is going to be non-trivial and time spent tryijng to support IE6 will make the projects non-viable.

Maybe JISC needs to start innovating on behalf on the HE community, and finding ways of putting pressure on HEIs so that they adopt browsers that can run apps developed rapidly for modern browsers? Maybe in some programme strands, JISC needs to tell the HE community that they are holding (rapid) innovation back by not adopting current browsers? IMHO, of course…

Why not have a go at the survey.

Tony Hirst, Open University





(Southampton) Developers of the World Unite

1 08 2009

On the final morning Mike Ellis offered us some thoughts on how developers can get together to share ideas and ‘get away from the treacle’. From BarCamps and Mashups, to Geek Dads and Pecha Kucha nights.

Have a go

We’re always asking you what you’re going to differently after you get home from IWMW. We don’t want you to just feel inspired and fired up, we want you to use what you’ve learnt to change the way you work.

In a very impressive example of speedy action Chris Gutteridge is having a go at organising a Southampton Developers Group. The short-term plan is for local developers to meet up for a drink, long-term he’d like to have a go at a hack day.

Chris says….

I’ve been waiting for years for somebody to set up a developers social group in Southampton. The session on the last day really rubbed in the fact that (a) it would be easy and (b) I should just sodding do it myself.

So I’ve set up a google group, a hashtag #sodev, put the word out on twitter.

I’ve spoken to a pub who can provide wifi etc. Biggest worry there is how to provide some power leads without trip hazards.

I’m now slightly worried that it could be too popular… In Southampton area we’ve got 2 universities, the SpecSavers developers, IBMers, Roke Manor Research, and the Ordinance Survey just off the top of my head.

I used google groups as a feel some developers may have a bit of hatred for being in facebook groups. I’ll see what community I get and what they want. I suspect that people will want to have a facebook group to get event invites (facebook’s actually useful bit).

If you are interested in joining up with Chris sign on to the Google group.





Half Hour Hacks at IWMW09

23 07 2009

In today’s guest blog post Tony Hirst, who blogs at http://ouseful.info/ invites developers and hackers at IWMW 2009 to join in a series of ‘half hour hacks’.


If, like me, your mind wanders whenever you’re in a conference session that lasts longer than your shattered attention span can cope with, you might find that your thoughts turn towards a doing a half hour hack.

In response to the IWMW event organisers’ call to set up a range of informal developer lounge activities, myself and Mike Ellis will be sharing a few tricks about rapid tinkering on the web in our Tuesday workshop session and then wherever or whenever else you can pin us down…

I also thought it might be fun to lay down a half hour hack challenge. The rules are simple: if you find yourself in a session that doesn’t interest you, come up with the idea for a quick hack inspired by the current talk or the presenter, implement it (or someone else’s tweeted idea) and post it before the session is over. Think of it as a bit like a geek developer version of word association. Tweet when you start, tweet when you finish (with a link to a working demo), and then we can lobby Brian for a prize for the quickest’n’useful-est half-hour hacks of the conference.

My own preference for half hour hacks is to: a) only use tools that can be accessed through a web browser, (so obviously, if the WiFi is flakey, I’m stuffed…;-) and that b) are publicly accessible. So YQL, Yahoo Pipes, Google docs, Google maps, Dapper and Many Eyes are all allowed, as are client side Javascript frameworks, Greasemonkey scripts and user interface libraries.

Any data you use should come from wherever you can find it, although access to it should not require authentication.

Part Scrapyard Challenge, part Ready Steady Cook, have you got a half hour hack in you?:-)


Tony Hirst is an itinerant academic in the Department of Communication and Systems, and member of the Socialearn core project team. He blogs regularly about educational Web technologies and RSS feed powered mashups at http://ouseful.info/ (although most of his readers would being admit to being confused by most of the posts, most of the time).

Tony will be facilitating a parallel session entitled “Mashups Round the Edges” with Mike Ellis.