(a sponge absorbing knowledge, not IBM’s conference fees… honestly)
The first two days of ApacheCon Europe are now over and done with – and what have we learned children? I chose to attend two of the full day tutorials,
- Practical Hands-on Tutorial on JavaServer Faces Using Apache MyFaces, and
- An XSLT Tutorial, Including XSLT 2.0 and Publishing with Cocoon
The first was relatively interesting, and since I was (am, I suppose) a relative newcomer to the JSF world, a lot of it was new to me – though of course the main idea of this being essentially “another” MVC architecture meant that much was familiar from Struts. The bar was kept pretty low for the day however, mostly due to the fact that it was a very hands-on tutorial, with each of us expected to implement relatively simple JSF applications. Differences in each person’s laptop setup (JRE version etc) meant that various errors occurred, rarely the same, which slowed the whole thing down. As the organisers themselves said, they could easily have filled three days with this stuff, and it’s just a pity that time was so short. It should also be noted that the tutorial was marked as “Novice”, and it’s really my own fault for not reading the small print. The one small highlight of the day was where the Oracle-based speakers repeatedly apologised each time they *forgot* to mention IBM in each vendor listing. Funny stuff, or else I’m easily amused.
The second days tutorial, focused on XSLT, was considerably more interesting, at least to me as much of my recent work has been based around it. The speaker, Doug Tidwell from IBM, is the author of the O’Reilly XSLT book, and is therefore extremely knowledgeable on the subject. Much of the basic XSLT 1.0 stuff I was already pretty familiar with, but I was very happy to find out that XSLT 2.0 has drastically simplified much of the overly-verbose structures of version 1.0. However, raining on my parade was the fact that there will probably be no browser support for XSLT/XPath 2.0 in the near to medium term – if anyone knows of any support for this coming to either Firefox or, very importantly, Internet Explorer 7, please let me know. Without this support, XSLT 2.0 will remain very much a server side phenomenon, which would be a real shame, since it is a vast improvement over version 1.0, and many cool/nifty things can be done with XSLT browser-side, especially when combined with things like Atom feeds.
On a side note, I’ve recently discovered that JackRabbit, the Apache based Java Content Repository implementation, only supports a subset of XPath 1.0 – for example, you cannot do a query like:
which would be very useful for paging. There are a number of other limitations to the implementation. If anyone is in a programmy kind of mood, and feels like diving the depths of JackRabbit, Lucene and Derby, adding full XPath 1.0 support would be cool little (read huge) and very worthwhile project.