Sharovatov’s Weblog

Windows 7 Accelerators Platform

Posted in IE8 by sharovatov on 20 May 2009

Cool, I just found out that great accelerators feature that’s been introduced in IE8 is a part of Windows 7 API as Accelerators Platform.

The whole concept is really useful – Accelerators Platform provides a unified way to enhance an text-operating application with cross-application plug-ins.

Accelerators Platform provides an abstraction layer between applications and accelerators:

  • Accelerators operate with text selection with help of web services
  • application implementing Accelerators Platform API can use Accelerators
  • user running the application can select a text and choose an accelerator that will use this selection

So it’s like a plug-in platform for text selection plug-ins where plug-ins are application independent and stored in one place, so if an accelerator is installed once, it will be available in any application that supports Accelerators Platform.

The fact that Accelerators become application-independent gives the following benefits:

  • usability is better as users have similar behaviour pattern across applications, and it’s easier for them to get used to your application
  • you as an application developer don’t have to reinvent the wheel and implement useful text selection enhanced functionality and work on a plug-in architecture
  • you as an application developer don’t have to maintain a list of supported text selection plug-ins – they can be found and installed easily from here – the list of accelerators is huge!
  • if you want to create your own accelerator for your application, it’s well documented and dead easy – I’ve created 6 accelerators just in 20 minutes! Or your users can do it!

So by supporting Accelerators Platform in your app you allow users to do with the text whatever they like and whatever they are used to!

Just imagine – wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to select address in any application, right click on it and see where it’s located on the map? Or select unknown word in any application and see its definition in Wikipedia? Or select a function name that you’d like to refresh you memory about and see what php.net or msdn have to say? Or select any text and translate it to other language in one click? Or check how much selected TV model costs on ebay?

As Microsoft said, Office 2010 would have Accelerators platform support, and I bet other serious software will support Accelerators Platform as well. Here’s Word 2010 screenshot from msdn:

Dd565720_ie8_win7_word_accel(en-us,VS_85)

For more details and technical description of Accelerators Platform please visit this MDSN article and this IE Team Blog entry.

So go and support Accelerators Platform in your app!

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Best Windows 7 gadgets

Posted in no category by sharovatov on 16 May 2009

Found the best blog with windows 7 gadgets – http://blog.orbmu2k.de/

I installed Memory usage gadget, updated version of CPU Usage, Network traffic, Volume control and Top 5 processes gadgets. Really great!

I also downloaded all Windows 7 themes from http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/Windows7/Personalize page – they are just awesome :)

Now the right side of my 2nd monitor looks like that:

gadgets-screenshot2[1]

Great week – Hosting issues, dvd-rw, beanbags, silly putty, windows7, laptop battery

Posted in personal by sharovatov on 15 May 2009

This week was really interesting – too much stuff happening at once.

Hosting issues redux

First of all, I’m moving to 1gb.ru hosting – they have quite good prices for standard virtual hosting and I don’t need anything more. As I’ve blogged earlier, I’m cross with my current hosting Naunet.ru because they’ve got squid installed as a front-end for all their servers, and they don’t even want to be flexible with their clients. When I emailed them saying that I can’t work with chunked encoding because of their SQUID, they said that supporting chunked encoding was not a priority issue for them. Awesome. So I looked at different options, tested few hosting providers and 1gb.ru seems to be the most reasonable so far. For unlimited traffic, standard LAMP + perl + 1 domain I’ll have to pay $50 for a year :) Going to change DNS records for sharovatov.ru domain tomorrow.

DVD-RW

I finally got to the computer store and bought a DVD-RW to replace my old CDRW. 30 bucks and now I can watch my movies on a TV – great. Don’t know why I didn’t replace it earlier.

Laptop battery

I have a really weird issue with my MSI Wind U100 laptop – it will charge only when it’s turned off. I just can’t understand why this is happening, it’s saying “plugged in (not charging)” in the battery properties. This is really frustrating because my company generously bought me this laptop only a couple of months ago. Fortunately, a girl from MSI service centre said it wouldn’t be a problem to replace the battery, however, I’ll have to wait for two weeks while the new battery gets delivered to their store from somewhere else (weird!). So it will be two weeks without a battery. This is especially bad since I’m attending OSPCON IT Project Management conference soon, and it’s awful to go to a conference without a laptop. *Still hoping it’s a software issue and can be resolved by updating BIOS or something*

Windows 7

Installed on both laptop and work PC and still can’t find proper words to describe how it’s cool! In few words: Windows 7 Ultimate RC works faster than XP Pro on my Core 2 Duo + 2GB RAM (and approximately at the same speed as XP Home on my laptop). And it’s UI is something I’ve never used before – really beautiful! All hardware was working right after the installation – and I’ve got 2 webcams, bluetooth dongle, wi-fi etc. All the software works without any problems. IE8 runs so smoothly that I don’t even bother using Chrome while on XP Google Chrome was my main browser for daily surfing.

Beanbag

Beanbags finally came to Moscow – beanbag.ru! For $70 you get a normal-sized beanbag and for $100 you can buy a huge one! Awesome! I’m thinking of getting a big one for sitting with laptop.

Silly Putty

My boss ordered me a pack of magnetic Silly Putty when he was in London. For some reason it’s sold for crazy prices here in Moscow. On Amazon.co.uk you can get 3” pack for £6.95 (350 roubles) and on handgum.ru you get the same for 1000 roubles (£20.00). Can’t wait to get it :)

And of course, as every other week, it was full of work for the great company I’m employed in – Real Russia Limited :)

HTML+CSS+JS Widgets – future cross-platform environment

Posted in web-development, widgets by sharovatov on 13 May 2009

Yesterday I installed Windows 7 on both my laptop (MSI Wind U100) and work PC (Core2Duo with 2Gb RAM). Both machines had XP – Home on laptop and Pro on work PC. One of the first things I’ve noticed right after installation was Gadgets technology that Windows 7 supports (actually, support for Sidebar Gadgets appeared in Vista, but as I didn’t have Vista installed, I couldn’t check it out). The technology is very simple – you create a manifest file with your gadget settings and HTML file with your gadget code, styles and scripting (of course, you’d better put styles and js in separate files); then zip everything in one archive and rename its extension to .gadget. That’s it, then you can install it on your sidebar in Vista or Windows 7.

Technical details of how gadgets work are for one of next blog posts, but I feel the tendency that all small applications soon will be written in HTML/JS/CSS (especially those that use web-services!).

Look, Opera has proposed a draft to W3C called Widgets – the same concept of small HTML/CSS/JS application but running inside a browser. Vodafone hired PPK to spec Mobile Widgets technology and test thoroughly (and Peter-Paul is famous for his great tests and compatibility tables!). Nokia already supports Web Widgets on S60 phones.

So instead of multiple environments we have one common environment for building applications for almost any platform – be it a browser, a mobile phone or Windows desktop. Yes, there’re API and DOM differences, for example, Windows Gadgets allow access to WMI so that you can build an application leveraging all the system functionality provided by WMI, on the phones and in Opera you will be limited to web-service based development and some pretty basic DOM, but even so it’s great that html/js/css is becoming a standard for writing cross-platform applications.

Front-end developers – our skills will become even more valuable :)

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