26 June 2007 » Potpourri

Wow, it has been a whole month since I last posted. It’s been an eventful one for sure though.

In May, Cat and I got engaged and made plans to get married in November. We did in fact use the Star Wars picture on our save the date cards, but Family Guy might have fit the bill as well. :)

My sister got married in mid-June, which meant many old friends and relatives from Finland were in town. Her husband’s family and cohorts from Britain were also around which made for a good time.

Lot of folks stuck around for the following day when I turned 30. KrookFest has never seen a more random crowd.

Towards the end of May and early June, I had also been working most of my time on some new features for, described below.

A new

IBM unveiled a significant upgrade to its Web site earlier this month. There were many folks who drove this successful launch and we’re all pretty proud of the result.

Beyond the aesthetic touch ups and usability improvements seen in the new v16 and v15 templates (Here’s a v14 page for comparision), there were quite a few personalization features packed in.

Visitors can now:

  • Add a given page to their interest areas based on the subject or topic indicated in the meta tags. For example, by clicking Add to My Interests.
  • Navigate based on those interests and country/language preference.
  • Sign in anywhere and share content with others via “E-mail this page” links always available in the masthead and footer.
  • Save time with forms that are pre-filled with information from their profiles when logged in.

My team’s contributions were to the client-side JavaScript and server-side Java functionality, which comprised the overall asynchronous, services-oriented architecture.

This system design enables customization to be plugged in regardless of the underlying hosting infrastructure of the existing Web site.

For example, areas of that are hosted on static file Web servers or those which only use CGI are still able to use the new features provided by the central WebSphere application since they are enabled via a single new JavaScript file and use the id of elements in the DOM of the new HTML templates.

I had the opportunity to work with a new team and learned quite a bit over the short run of the project. I was able to pick up or improve my skills with asynchronous JavaScript programming, JSON, DOM, Java build tools such as Ant, high-performance WebSphere hosting, and the CMVC version control system.

The services-oriented architecture was probably the most fundamentally different part of this Web application from others I’ve been involved with and I’m pretty excited about applying that pattern in future projects now that I’ve seen the value of a real world implementation.