Archive for the 'London' Category

Cycling to work



Bicycle Belles,
originally uploaded by www.alastairhumphreys.com.

This week I have started to cycle to work again. My monthly train ticket had expired and at my clients office there is ample bike parking and showers. I had no excuse.

So last Monday I got my bike out, packed my bag, planned a route and went for it.

Seeing it was about 3 months since I had pulled my bike from storage and at that time I was only cycling a mere 3.5 miles to my client I wasn’t sure how I would find the new 8 mile trip.

I shouldn’t have worried. It is taking me about 35 minutes on the bike which is a good enough pace. I would like to get that under 30 minutes but the goal is to get to work not to beat Chris Hoy in 2012.

There is a great feel riding on the road in London. There are lots of people out there and while there is a little argy bargy most of the people I have seen have been pretty safe especially all the cyclists passing me. If there is anything that get my competitive edge going it is having someone pass me. I always want to jump on their wheel but most of the time they are much fitter than me and they leave me in their dust.

I am not sure how long I am going to be able to keep on cycling with the darkness and winter approaching but in the mean time when you are driving your car – watch for cyclists.

Thanks to Alastair Humphreys for his great shot of the woman cycling entered in a competition to make cycling more accessable to women.

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Agavi 1.0.0 Beta 1 released

As a follow on from the talk at PHPLondon last week David has now posted this announcement.

Hi everyone,

after more than three years of development, Agavi has finally reached the first 1.0 milestone: 1.0.0 beta 1 is out! Grab it now at http://agavi.org/

As you might already know, it’s fairly identical to the stable Agavi 0.11 series, which has been ready for production use for a long time now and enjoys widespread use across many sites already.

This new release introduces a new build system for projects, and features a new XML configuration subsystem that is even more flexible and ready for the future while maintaining full backwards compatibility. Several other minor enhancements are also listed below, but as usual, the RELEASE_NOTES and CHANGELOG files know it all.
Please also pay special attention to the UPGRADING document which explains the changes to the configuration file formats (old configs will continue to work, however).

There will likely be another beta release before we enter the release candidates cycle as a couple of refactorings remain to be done, just like the new unit testing subsystem for applications. Note that use in production environments is not recommended at this time.

Also, I’m very happy to announce that a preview version of our new tutorial manual is up at http://agavi.org/docs/tutorial/. It covers the first couple of what’s going to be quite a number of chapters that explain the creation and improvement of the new official Agavi example application, which will also be used by other manuals, presentations and in trainings. Please have a look at it and let us know what you think; any sort of feedback is greatly appreciated!

But let’s talk about three important new features in 1.0:

– XML config subsystem with improved, namespace-aware handlers, support for multiple XML Schema (also using XML Schema Instance declarations), RELAX NG and Schematron validation runs in various stages of config parsing, support for XSL provided through external instructions and by <?xml-stylesheet?> processing instructions and convenient support for namespace versioning, which means we’ll have nice backwards-compatible configuration files in the future. Envelope and actual content of files are now separate, as described in the UPGRADING document.
– A completely new build system for creating and managing your projects. It features several wizards, as well as raw targets that work without interactive input. This allows extension and customization of build operations in your custom build.xml files.
There’s also an event listener system you can hook into for even more flexibility.
– Execution containers now have a request method. This means you can embed, for example, a slot with a login form, with the request method forced to “read”, so that this Action would never run the login operation even if another form on the page was submitted through a POST request. This should reduce a lot of request method related pains people have experienced when building heavily componentized web sites.

The rest is mostly refactorings and minor enhancements as explained by RELEASE_NOTES, CHANGELOG and UPGRADING.

Please test this first release thoroughly with your projects and report any issues you find on the mailing lists or the bug tracker!

Thank you all for using Agavi, it’s an absolute pleasure to work with such a great user base!

I am not a user myself – I am focusing on Zend Framwork. This is just a PSA.

Avagi – no criminals here

ScaffoldingIf you have been following along you may remember an Agavi advocate Mike haggled Symfony proponent Ian P. Christian at the PHPLondon conference in February.

Last night at PHPLondon, David Zülke said the correct quote was “I don’t want to call anyone a criminal …” David was presenting an very thorough account of the Agavi framework. Agavi has been round a while and I am not going to try and repeat or even summarise the talk my take away was that Agavi’s strenght is multiple representations of the same data with zero coding change. Everything is setup in config and abstracted and if you won’t json or soap or html or even irc you can have it.

If you are really keen the talk will be online at the PHPLondon wiki at some point in the very near future. Hopefully the new toy – the microphone / amplifier / mp3 recorder will have worked and there will be an mp3 for your listening pleasure. 

Of course this sort of talk brings out the testosterone and the one upmanship. I was refreshed to hear a couple of people say in converstion later:

  1. I like to have the url map on the the file system
  2. I think we are getting a bit drunk on frameworks

Both are valid points. The beauty of PHP is you can use a framework if the application lends itself to it or not. There is no one true way. There is no silver bullet. Once you get past the wow factor of the 90% of your app being build in 5% of the time from the commandline the realisation comes that you still need to build out the rest of your scaffolding into a real application. Sometimes the overhead is not worth it and sometime it is. As Laura Thompson blogged recently (okay it was last year) there is no one true way.

I am frequently irritated with the mindset that there’s One True Way of solving any kind of software problem, be it web platform, database choice, operating system, or methodological approach.  It’s been irritating me since I was an academic and I would present two different algorithms (let’s call them A and B) to solve problem X.  There would always be a student who wanted to know “which is better?”  Typically I would respond “In a situation such as […] A is better, but if you are looking at something more like […] B is better.”  Most people would be happy with that but there are always people who insist that one must just be The Best Way.

So if you use a framework – great and if you don’t – that is just as great. I will assume that you have thought through the reasons of why or why not and made the right choice for your situation.

Photo credit: kevindooley – thanks.

A new gig and a gag

For a while back there I was “out of work” which means my company was short of a client to invoice. Not the best situation.

Long story short is that I have remedied that predicament and it all worked out very well given the current economic climate etc etc.

I have been meaning to blog a little about recruiting 2.0 or recruiters or that sort of thing as we all have a love hate relationship with that. We need to recruiters to find people but they can, on occassion be annoying. I tend to take the good with the bad and forge direct relationships with clients where possible. I can usually pick a bad recruiter as he has no idea what he is talking about when he reads a spec to me. It usually his first day and I am flexible and usually tell them to go to SDN to learn the lingo.

Anyway thanks to all the people who provided me with leads and support recently. While blogging or twittering didn’t directly to an offer it sure didn’t harm my cause.

My new gig – well I can’t tell you. I have signed an NDA which prevents me from telling you, dear reader, in this public forum. No matter – that’s how some big companies operate so I will happily toe the line.

[It is a great project though]

PHP London July 2008

As always the London PHP meetup last night went off.

I met a whole buncha new people. Some of whom were from bluhalo.com and others were from iBuildings.

Ian Christian presented a great talk on doctrine (rhymes with whine not win apparently but I guess that depends on what school you went to or what country you were born in)

Doctrine is a ORM tool for mapping your classes into databases tables. His presentation went well even with offline google docs!

I later got into all sorts of conversations with the afore mentioned new iBuildings guys and aparently the are an international company now because they are in two countries. Well judging by the nationality of them they are a global company! Other people drifed into the conversation and I mentioned I was a SAP consultant by day and someone (not the iBuildings guys FTR) had decided that SAP was all proprietory and was not into open standards blah blah blah. I tried to press him for evidence for his assertions but none came and someone else conventiently came along to rescue him.

I could go on here about how you could connect with SAP dozens of ways including SOAP, REST, Java, .Net, PHP, Python, Perl, Ruby with connectors some official and some open source (how’s Zend Core for SAP coming along guys 😉 hint hint ) but if you have decided that SAP is not open then I guess your mind is in a similar state.

A small group of Symfony guys found a table and started doing the symfony thing and I managed to see Ian was getting prepared for the Agavi presentation next month. (Backstory here)

At the end of the evening I saw Marcus giving a one-on-one with someone so I came over to see what was happening and ended up getting a personal tour through simpletest and intro to TDD.

Thanks Marcus.

Goodness coming to Web Dynpro Abap near you.

Adobe Flash Rendering In Web Dynpro for Abap Thomas Jung has been working on some amazing stuff. I love the power of adobe flash interface to produce slick looking graphs. He twittered yesterday that he was making some new screen casts of what is coming soon to the Netweaver Stack. Although my current gig is not running that sort of rig and I twittered back that I wouldn’t likely get near it until 2011, I was interested to see what was going on. Tom kindly sent a preview of the cast and this screen shot is of a flash graphs generated from within Web Dynpro for ABAP.

I am a big fan of visualising these kinds. Flash is a great way to deliver this sort of data as they make data more usable. This kind of innovation is what keeps me excited about what SAP is doing in the market place even though I may not get to work on them for a while.

These screen casts are going to have voice overs attached and appear in the eLearning section of SDN soon.

Bonus Link: If you have not heard, James Governor is running an Adobe SAP Nanoconference on July the 11th Adobe’s new offices in Regent’s Park, London.

SAP (un)London (un)Conference is on

It is now (un)Official. The SAP London Community Day has a green light and is now officially on Saturday 26 April 2008 in Egham just on the edge of London.

The official details are all over on the wiki .

The best part is that it is Free* to attend.

What does Free* include?

Free* includes a venue provided by Axon (thanks guys) and tea and coffee.

You will need to get yourself to the venue and food will be at your own cost.

We are thinking of about 10 sessions in two tracks. If there are more than 10 sessions that get registered we will work that out on the day, so get your thinking caps on and come prepare to contribute not just attend.

The whole day is in a spirit of sharing all the good information we have learned on the various SAP projects, networking with others and having fun.

Oh it is not just for ABAP geeks, functional consulants AKA BPX’s and other TLA’s are very welcome too.

Get your Wii hands on

More information will be out as it comes to hand.

That wiki page again is here and sign up by adding your name to this list.

And the most important thing the official TAG = “SAPLondonCD08” add it to your blog posts, flickr photos etc.

Spread the word.


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