29 May 2008

Bug Databases - Redmine

While on my Internet travels I found a bug database system I hadn't encounterd before called Redmine. It's open-source and based on Ruby-On-Rails, and provides much more than simply bugtracking. It refers to itself as a project management tool as it provides enough tools to do that.

Features include:
* Per project wiki and forums
* Issue tracking
* Source control integration (Subversion, CVS, Darcs, Bazaar, Mercurial, Git)
* Gantt chart and calendar
* Time tracking functionality
* News, documents & files management

I did a quick test install on a Ubuntu virtual machine to see what it was like. The user interface is really quite slick and very easy to use because it makes the most of Javascript. Even when you have a list view you get a nice context menu to do the simple and most often done changes (priority and the suchlike).

One of the most interesting parts I found of the system is the paradigm it uses to partition data. You create a project and it is possible to have per-project wikis, forums, and repositories. You can even use different source control systems per project. What makes it interesting is that you can point a project at a sub-branch of a repository, so it would be possible to have a project per branch or group of branches. This would make it much easier to track implementations on a per-branch basis.

With document and wiki management available it is then possible to integrate the peripheral information for a product with the items involved in actually implementing it. With the integrated wiki you can also have your requirements and design documents easily at hand.

I know some of this is very similar to Trac, but it is good to see another tool approaching the same space. Some of the features like the ease of source control integration is really nice.

21 May 2008

Web Development - Pylons

I was reading some information about Ruby On Rails and watching a few of the screencasts and I was really impressed about how fast you can create a database-backed website. One of the good blogs about it is A Fresh Cup where a Microsoft refugee embarks on a career in Rails development. It pointed to a very interesting article Ruby’s Not Ready whcih compares Ruby to Python.

Through that article I discovered Pyhton has its own "On-Rails" equivalent Pylons for rapid website development. Since Python resources out there are so numerous this would be a very interesting platform to build on. I guess that also means for enterprising C++ developers using Boost.Python they could have some interesting performance improvements.

For the most part Pylons seems about as productive as Rails, as outlined in the tutorial for making a quick blog.

It's pretty easy to try this stuff out on a Mac if you have MacPorts installed (and Porticus to make it extra nice).

19 May 2008

Goings On In The Land Of Eclipse

I've been playing around with some of the Alpha/Beta releases of Eclipse. I haven't played around with it for quite a while but some of the advancements look really interesting.

Currently Eclipse has 3.4.M7 is available for download. One of the most interesting features is that the user interface now supports WPF on Vista. The Java toolkit SWT now has a WPF back-end, you can see its resolution independence if you look at it through the Magnifier application on Windows. Also, in general, the user interface looks much more integrated into the native platform.

You can see a list of new and newsworthy items for Eclipse 3.3 here and 3.4 here.

The main reason I was trying out the new version was to give the C/C++ toolkit CDT 5.0 a go. Doug Schaefer has blogged about it here.

I was just playing a little with it to see how it compared to the older version and it seems a bit faster. It has the beginnings of some nice refactorings and templates which should make some common coding tasks a bit simpler.

Hopefully when this all comes out Wascana will have a new version released with a nicely packaged C/C++ development environment for Windows. It could make a compelling alternative to other IDEs, as well as giving you access to other great tools like PyDev (for Python), Mylyn (task and bug management), and I suppose Java as well...

18 May 2008

Firefox 3 On The Mac

I've been using Firefox 3 on the Mac for the past month so I thought I'd share some of my experiences when using it. There release candidate download page is here.

The reason I didn't start using it beforehand was because I was waiting for a supported version of the Del.icio.us bookmarks add-on as it has become indespensible to me. You can get this here.

I run a few add-ons to make it look more integrated with Mac OSX:
* Locationbar 2 for improving the recognition of URLs.
* Fission for the progress in the URL field like Safari.
* GrApple Delicious (Blue) theme which looks very good (and integrated on the Mac).
* And don't forget AdBlock Plus whichever platform you are running on!

With all of those add-ons working (you can also force add-ons to work by using the Nightly Tester Tools) I was ready to use Firefox 3. For a Beta (and now the Release Candidate) it is amazingly stable.

The entire program is much more responsive and lighter on the system resources. The integration and look and feel (with the add-ons) is excellent, although I would prefer if spell-checking with edit fields to be on by default (although there is a hack here).

In general it is a large step forward although I am not using the biggest new feature - the bookmarks replacement "Places". As usual though the major feather in Firefox's cap is the add-ons and once you have them you find it impossible to use anything else.

Also, I am using it on Windows Vista at work and it is fast, responsive and looks much better, although I would prefer not to have the blue tinge to the window. I'd recommend upgrading now because once you've tried 3 you can't go back.