Graph Sharing

October 13th, 2008 by Max

This is a large update to Graphsy. People have asked for graph embeddings and here they are.  This is my first crack at it, so if there is something you especially don’t like please let me know.  Right now the embeddings are iframes pointing to a viewer page.  I hope to get that changed some time in the future, but wanted to roll out the feature ASAP.

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Alignment Controls

September 29th, 2008 by Max

Having not updated in a while, I’m coming back with some hopefully useful features for Graphsy.  First just want to reassure everyone that work on embedding graphs is progressing nicely and should be done soonish.  I also took some time to add alignment tools.  I felt they were missing and wouldn’t take me too long to code up.  However, with all the traveling and getting sick I’ve been doing the past couple of weeks, these features took a bit longer than anticipated.  Also not sure how well they will scale in the end.  It seems to work fine for 100 shapes, but there is probably a point when it will crap out on certain machines.  Let me know if it happens to you.

You will noticed a new toggle button that is turned on when logging into the studio portion of the application.  It enables objects to be snapped and aligned depending on other objects in the scene.  At their simplest, the features will align top, middle, bottom, left, center, and right portions of each object to other objects in the scene.  Graphsy will show what objects are aligning together using a green bar.

Graphsy will also align objects based on their distances.  For example, if you want to place three boxes such that they are displaced by the same amount, you can begin by placing the first two. Then the third will snap into place at the same distance from the second as the second is from the first.  Also, when placing an object between two other objects, it will snap into place right in the middle.  In this case red bars will appear to signify which distance is being used by Graphsy.

I hope you find there features speed up positioning and help you create better looking images.  If you find that snapping is getting in the way, you can turn it off by clicking on the toggle button.

Software Engineering vs. Engineering

September 26th, 2008 by Max

Watt's steam engine in the vestibule of the Es...

This is something I’ve been meaning to write about a quite some time now.  It is one of the things that most irritates me about how Software Engineering (SE) is presented to people unfamiliar with the concepts.  It tends to be compared to other forms of engineering, especially architecture.  I have to admit that when first being taught SE, I fully bought into that whole analogy. But, when one moves beyond the basic concepts, it falls apart.  There are many problems with this comparison as well as many pitfalls one may fall into when making it.

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ASE Last Day and Overall Impressions

September 22nd, 2008 by Max

The third day was the least eventful.  There was a single session and a keynote.  Unfortunately we had to leave before the keynote so I only attended the session.  There was one great presentation and two that seemed like they were getting at something, but didn’t make much sense at the time.  Will read the papers and hopefully understand them better.

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Automated Software Engineering Day 2

September 20th, 2008 by Max

Well, day 2 is done and I have to say it was a bit of a disappointment when compared to the first day.  Unfortunately I believe that was in part due to my choice of sessions.  The best paper was in the session I did not attend and upon talking with the authors it sounds rather interesting.  There was one shining beacon, the day’s keynote.  The component session was not bad, but not great, while the experience reports were pretty much a disaster and did not really provide anything interesting.  Ohh well I guess, lets jump in and go over the highlights.

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Automated Software Engineering Day 1

September 19th, 2008 by Max

The first day of the Automated Software Engineering (ASE) conference has passed.  I wanted to highlight a few things that I saw and thought were interesting.   Sorry for posting my impressions a bit late, but I guess it’s better late than never.  I’ll write a separate post for days two and three.

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Following TechCrunch50

September 10th, 2008 by Max

TechCrunch50 is streaming all of the presentations this week.  I was able to catch most of them yesterday.  If you are not watching them, you really should, they are not only informational, but good examples of how to and not to present. Check them out here. I have found them very educational so far and got to see some really cool products. I wanted to share a few of my favorites from yesterday (this is in the order of appearance).

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Undo/Redo & a Response to Robert Scoble

September 8th, 2008 by Max

I had an update ready a few days ago.  Originally this was going to add undo/redo functionality.  I know I said layouts were going to be next, but then my wife played with Graphsy for a bit and pointed out that there was no undo and yet there was an auto-save.  That made it difficult and punishing to try out different things.  So I put together the undo feature, which was surprisingly not that difficult.   That was a few days ago.

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Graphsy Update: The Snappy Grid

August 30th, 2008 by Max

Added some more functionality to Graphsy.  This time it’s an adjustable grid as well as the ability to snap to it when laying out shapes and edges.  Users can set the number of column in the grid and Graphsy will create as many rows as necessary to make sure each grid cell is a square.  Users can set a value between 1 and 100.  The grid adjusts through all of the different zoom levels and is saved with each project.

The grid itself is rendered using ImageMagick on the backend.  I experimented with using HTML elements first and, while the grid would pop-up faster, once it was on screen its presence slowed down all other operations significantly.  Therefore I decided to go with a rendered grid.  While it may take a bit for it to come up, once it does, it will be cached and the next time should be displayed faster.

Next update will contain more layout features.  Next time shapes and lines will snap into place based on objects already part of the project.

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Just how useful is design documentation?

August 27th, 2008 by Max

When one begins to learn software engineering, they are usually encouraged to do some form of design before jumping right into the code. I remember some of my first computer science (CS) classes. We had to submit a design document in addition to the source code for any particular project. I remember hating it, but attributing that displeasure more to the fact that the projects were so small and insignificant that they did not really need a design document. After studying software engineering and talking to many different practicing software engineers I realize that design is over rated. I don’t want to say that there is no need for design document, but that maybe too much emphasis is placed on them.

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