Open Source Tools Built The Web

Ironically, while open source is often associated with the Internet, many Web development managers remain uncertain about whether open source software can become a viable source for the tools they need to deliver their e-commerce projects on time.

However, open source has huge potential advantages when compared to traditional proprietary software models. The obvious advantage is that, with the software freely available to developers, open source is developed by, in effect, the world’s largest R&D teams. Improvements such as bug fixes and functionality extensions become available much faster–sometimes literally overnight–compared with traditional vendor models.

Another effect of the open source community is the ability to experiment in marginal areas or produce enhancements that do not have immediate, known commercial potential. Conventional ISV teams are rarely allowed to produce things that the customer isn’t asking for.

ostbtwFor instance, an integrated development environment (IDE) may provide the development and debugging environment. However, an IDE typically does not address design and analysis, configuration


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Working With The Guts Of PostScript

Lots of people fly in airplanes, but few understand how aviation works. That’s why many of us cling to erroneous ideas about flying, believing that air turbulence is dangerous, say, and can even cause an airplane to fall out of the sky. For these unfortunate travelers, ignorance is not bliss; it’s the cause of unnecessary anxiety.

PostScript is what makes desktop publishing fly–it’s the underlying structure on which many magazines, books, and newspapers are built. Sure, you can use QuarkXPress or Adobe InDesign without knowing anything about PostScript, just as you can fly without understanding the physics of lift. But knowing even a littie about PostScript can go a long way: it can help you predict what’s going to come out of your printer, saving you time and frustration. It can also help you troubleshoot problems. And with a smattering of PostScript, you can do a few tricks you may not have thought possible (see “Zap the Big White Box”).…


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Encoding The Tough Stuff

It turned out that this was the first subscriber whose name contained a character not representable in 7-bit ASCII. The character is one that I can type in my emacs text editor (using its insert-ascii function) as the integer 232 (hex E8), thusly: e. What you will see, in your browser, depends on the encoding that it’s using. For many of us, that encoding will be ISO-8859-1, and you will see the character whose Unicode number is 00E8, and whose name is LATIN SMALL LETTER E WITH GRAVE:

But if your encoding is set to ISO-8859-2, you will instead see the character whose Unicode number is 010D, and whose name is LATIN SMALL LETTER C WITH CARON:

wfThe Web form that accepted this ASCII 0xE8 character relayed it to a backend business system that happily stored it. But that backend system also communicated the character, by way of XML-RPC, to another system. And that system — specifically, its XML


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