Wednesday, November 22 2006
A week ago Gretchen and I had thought we'd be attending a Thanksgiving at a friend's place, but that friend came down with pneumonia in the meantime and we had to come up with other plans. So Gretchen decided to host a vegan Thanksgiving feast at our house. She spent most of the day in the kitchen cooking, occasionally venturing upstairs to relieve herself with an hour-long crime drama. My contribution to the effort was a cleaning jihad, wherein I had to make a special effort to banish cat hair from the rugs and upholstery. Our friend J from High Falls would be coming for as long as his immune system would allow despite his deathly allergy to cats.
I've been working on a teleproject in which a Flash-based front end communicates with a MySQL database. The original plan called for the data exchange to take place using amfphp, which is a whiz-bang system allowing Flash to move data to and from remote data sources without XML. In theory it seemed like a good idea, but the moment it came time to do anything practical, all of the people involved in the project realized that there was a problem, and that was a problem of describing data formats. I could be wrong about this, but, other than XML, there is no widely-understood straightforward way to describe complex data formats. When you find yourself abstractly talking (or, especially, hearing) about arrays of arrays, the eyes glaze over and the mind slowly turns to mush. With XML, though, it is possible to manually create a text file containing an example of a formatted data transfer where suddenly everything is concrete and the hand-waving stops and people can get to work. So in the end we decided to go with exchanging data using good old XML. (By the way, I think amfphp would be great for projects where there is only one developer.)
With that in mind
I spent much of the day creating a set of XML presentation functions for my PHP-based generic MySQL browsing/editing system.
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