Tuesday, February 14

The Blog Authority Hustle

Mike over at TechCrunch was blogging about Technorati rolling out a new Authority Search Filter (a "slider" pattern for those who read my previous post). He asks the question: what is a better way to determine authority other than links into a blog? Well, one way is to go beyond link counting and use a topic specific, dare I say "vertical" community approach. From what I understand, Sphere is doing just this. Speaking of which...

What is going on with Sphere? I signed up for the beta waiting list and haven't heard a peep in months. Furthermore the last coverage I saw in the press was in October. Are they planning on launching soon? Can we get a status report guys?

Mary Hodder's research on topic communities is one of the bases of Sphere. Here is more information from her blog, Napsterization
In particular, I spent a couple of years working on the topic browsing of blog data, developing a front-end php-based system, 150 pages of usability, user and design research, preliminary algorithm design for determining topic communities through multiple metrics, scoping search up and down those communities, as well as weighting bloggers through other combinations of those same metrics (multiple metrics reduce the power law effects that a single metric can have on a community), as well as blogger profiling.
I would still love to see Mary's research, it sounds fascinating. Incidentally, she gave a great presentation to the UC Sims 141 Class on Blog search. I highly recommend the webcast.

New AJAX Libraries, tools, and design patterns

Yahoo released two cool pieces of code yesterday. The Yahoo UI Blog announanced the release of a AJAX UI library and also a UI design patterns library.

If I get a chance I want to look at the drag and drop code as well as the DOM tools. I hope it's well documented! One of the "hidden costs" of free software is that often times you have to figure it out yourself because of a dirth of up-to-date documentation.

On a related topic, I was digging around yesterday looking for a Javascript debugger for Eclipse. I'm working on my wedding website, which I am writing in PHP. I'm using Eclipse, and I was doing some Javascript for my online RSVP form. I think it's pretty neat, the menu selector, the ability to add people, etc... uses a fair bit of JS. A good debugger is worth its weight in gold.

I ran across the news that IBM will be contributing the AJAX Tools Framework to the Eclipse project. Some of the cool features are an integrated Javascript debugging environment and DOM Inspector. It will run Mozilla inside Eclipse. Sounds pretty cool. They hope to have a prototype for feedback in Q1 and hopefully something more robust by Q2.

If you are looking for a good Javascript debugger now, your choices are: MyEclipse for an Eclipse plug-in, Venkman's Firefox Plug-in, and of course good ol' MS Script Debugger. I don't really like Venkman's, the UI is just a bit clunky compared to what I am used to in VS / Eclipse. I haven't tried the MyEclipse editor because I haven't wanted to shell out the cash -- because after all, I am saving for a wedding here!

It's nice to see some of these technologies taking off now that we have crossed some major browser adoption milestones for CSS capable browsers. It's a fun time to be a developer.