Life & Technology

Handful lessons in different areas of technology and life in general.

Monthly Archives: September 2008

GraphPlugin – My first plugin for MapWindow GIS

A few months ago, I tweaked a plugin called DocLauncher in MapWindow that lets you open external File or Url based on the input value on the field. Quite simple actually and useful too especially if DocLauncher is enabled and you only like to click the shape file but not to open the contents in FileOrUrl field, this plugin lets you toggle the execution of the process.

And now, I’m into MapWindow again, developing a product related to Political Election Campaign, I’ve decided to test and create a simple plugin called GraphPlugin that let me view the tabular data on the GIS into a nice looking Bar Graph using the open source library ZedGraph. Right now, the only available graphing option is the horizontal bar graph but later on my next revisions, will surely add the option to select the type of graph the user want to produce. ZedGraph is a very powerful charting library and allows you to export the generated graph into a file, very cool feature! And did I say that the library is FREE?

How the GraphPlugin works is very simple. Just download the library files (GraphPlugin.dll and ZedGraph.dll) via SVN of MapWindow here. And create a new folder named Graph Tool under \MapWindow\Plugins, copy the 2 DLLs and you can open MapWindow UI to enable the plugin via the Plugins menu. Once plugin is enabled, you can see a graph icon on the toolbar.

Some Screenshot as follows:

graph_plugin_main

graph_plugin

The plugin was developed using C#, Visual Studio 2008 SP1 (.NET 3.5 Framework) and MapWindow 4.7.909 Beta. This plugin is open-source and can be downloaded via SVN access from MapWindow site.

Web Template is a bad thing! Say it again please!

2vnq29w Many popular websites nowadays that we randomly weave daily on the web are 90% powered by a web template that is backed-up by a Content Management System (CMS) to update contents in real-time. Content can be in a form of a banner ads, an image gallery, a poll, an article or even changing the look-and-feel of a website with just simple clicks. The 10% is having an static html pages that is “custom” made to serve specific purpose. Having a website that is template driven allows individual to take control of turning a difficult process into something easy and manageable. This process makes everything quick and easy publishing and deploying a better looking website. Having said that, having a web template a bad thing? You could say it again please….?

Web templating, due to its popularity, hundreds of companies now shifted their businesses to focus on one thing – to design a web template to sell on the web. Sites like TemplateMonster.com and BoxedArt.com proves that doing this business is very profitable, not to mention that they have the power for web template trending and such. The way this technology is going, the more the web technology will become accessible to everyone, even to the people who doesn’t know HTML and do not know the workings of a web template. Why waste your time and effort of building your own custom made website when you can already adapt one from the web? This concept is already proven and applied by all popular blog/cms engines in the web today namely Joomla, SubText, BlogEngine, WordPress, N2CMS, mojoPortal, CommunityServer, dasBlog, Drupal and many more. The technology is already out there, you just need to use your creative mind for proper implementation on your website.

A good web template thatearljon have an appealing logo is considered to be a well crafted work. But having an amateurish-looking logo that is based solely on a simple font that’s available on a Windows machine really sucks! Even a 1st grader can do such thing! What cost would it be for a logo like that? It costs nothing coz there’s no real work there, the only effort is the actual typing of letters of the intended logo. A good site that teaches how to build/create a nice looking logo can be found here. Advantages and disadvantages of a text logo is also outlined there.

Recently, we just encountered a young, arrogant short-sighted, pathetic and talented(?) individual whom he think his ideas are brilliant (maybe for himself only, we just don’t know it for sure) and who doesn’t believe on the power of web templating. Young due to his unprofessional way of giving ideas (are you the boss?). This reminds me of the latest commercial of Mister Donut (“Asan ang donut ko!!!!?”). Arrogant for feeling himself proud of “dictating” and enumerating all the faults been made and all his expressed ideas (hey, are you in a payroll to act like that?) Short-sighted for not knowing the whole picture of what the “technology” is all about (hey, you only seen 1% of everything, do you know the word strategy and planning?). Pathetic for not knowing where and when to stop a conversation (coffee break! care to join?). Talented individual but i just didn’t see it (maybe I wasn’t aware?). Clearly, you’re missing basic key points of doing things in a web-template way. To the uninitiated individuals, here are The Many Benefits of using Website Templates.

One who dislikes a web design based on a template is considered to be living in the 2000’s wherein most sites were run by custom made hand-crafted web layouts. Back in the year 200chikahan4-2005, I once created a custom made from the scratch public website (www.chikahan.com) during my early years as a Systems Developer. This site is developed using Classic ASP to be able to re-use parts of the website again and again like the header, footer and the right pane. And the body of the site is being build dynamically (during the days, CMS buzzword is still never heard) for each of the pages. The site uses simple text logo and some  fancy flash animation. But this 5-day work made it to the 2005 Web Finalist Webby Awards! And I was happy to receive an invitation (snail mail and call) to attend the awards night (the site didn’t won but hey who cares?). I made this back then because I am part of the IRC group and initiated to create a web presence for our IRC group. This costs me nothing, even a single penny and yet I enjoyed doing this! And the result is really good, the Administrators of the group were very happy on the outcome of the overall look and feel of the site. Simple yet effective way of delivering information to web users. This website is still active and almost 4 years old and the site design and logo hasn’t changed yet! Unbelievably wicked cool for the fact that I am not active anymore on the group and yet my original concept of designing this website didn’t change a bit only the contents are changing but not the layout. I still have the original source codes for this website including the Flash .fla source file. If I will do the re-designing of this website today, 100% the site will be created based on a web templates! I can’t imagine now creating a site without using a template!

As the technology changes, new technologies are emerging very very fast to make the web a better place (for us web users), and the concept of web template was born and from there onwards, I learned a lot not only from the design perspective but also on the whys of web implementation. Web technology is a very rich media/platform that forces one to just focus on the things that matters most on your work and on your passion. You cannot have everything, that is the fact not only on the web but also in life.

Hey, this blog is powered by WordPress.com –> an open-source CMS blogging engine that fueled by great templates and uses by hundreds of people all over the world! I can’t imagine having a blog with no template at all, maybe I will just write it down to my old paper, care to join? Go take a look and amaze yourself to the beauty of web templating!

“I’m not a great programmer, but I’m a programmer with good habits”. — anonymous