Simon Willison’s Weblog


Monday, 9th February 2009

Google App Engine: A roadmap update! Receiving e-mail, background tasks and XMPP. I predict a bunch of sites will start building small parts of their overall functionality on App Engine when some of these features land (much easier than hosting your own custom XMPP server).

# 7 pm / appengine, cloud-computing, email, google, python, xmpp

Four reasons why public Facebook status updates won’t kill Twitter. Mike Butcher highlights the importance of “follow” rather than “friend” in social software.

# 7:04 pm / facebook, follow, friend, mike-butcher, socialsoftware, twitter

1901EasternTelegraph.jpg (via) A map of undersea telegraph cables as of 1901.

# 8:44 pm / cables, maps, undersea

When APIs go dark, how do you do a data backup? (Answer: you often can't.) With public, microformatted content, there will likely be a public archive that can be used to reconstitute at least portions of the service. With dynamic APIs and proprietary data formats, all bets are off.

Chris Messina

# 8:46 pm / apis, archiving, chris-messina, dataportability, microformats

Introduction to Information Retrieval (via) This looks excellent—a modern guide to implementing search engines written by some of the engineers behind Yahoo! Search. The full text is available online, but it looks like it’s well worth investing in the dead tree edition.

# 8:54 pm / books, freebooks, search, yahoosearch

YQL opens up 3rd-party web service table definitions to developers. This really is astonishingly clever: you can create an XML file telling Yahoo!’s YQL service how to map an arbitrary API to YQL tables, then make SQL-style queries against it (including joins against other APIs). Another neat trick: doing a SQL “in” query causes API requests to be run in parallel and recombined before being returned to you.

# 9:08 pm / apis, sql, yahoo, yql

Facing up to Fonts. Slides and notes from Richard Rutter’s excellent typography presentation at a recent SkillSwap Brighton. Includes some new thinking about the font stack (comma separated list of fonts provided to the font-family property) you should use to get the best possible implementation of a given font on various different platforms.

# 9:16 pm / design, fonts, fontstacks, richardrutter, skillswap, skillswapbrighton, typography

A Unix Utility You Should Know About: Pipe Viewer. Useful command line utility that adds a progress bar to any unix pipeline.

# 10:15 pm / commandline, pipes, pipeviewer, unix

Open in Browser Firefox Add-on (via) Solves the “application/json wants to download” problem, among others.

# 10:24 pm / firefox, json, plugins

Yahoo! Query Language thoughts. An engineer on Google’s App Engine provides an expert review of Yahoo!’s YQL. I found this more useful than the official documentation.

# 10:29 pm / appengine, google, yahoo, yql

2009 » February