TweetFollow Us on Twitter

WebEdge 95
Volume Number:11
Issue Number:10
Column Tag:From The Field

WebEdge Conference Report

What really happened when the lights went out?

By Jon Wiederspan, jon@comvista.com

WebEdge II happened in Austin, Texas last week (August 20 - 24) and the city seems none the worse for the wear. WebEdge I was held last spring at the Apple offices in Austin, where 100 attendees squeezed into a space that probably wasn’t rated by the fire department for that load. Obviously it was successful, because WebEdge II had over 300 attendees and many of them had been at the first conference. To handle the load, the conference was moved to the Austin Convention Center, which seemed much more spacious, especially when you had to hoof it from a class at one end of the halls to a lab session far away at the other end. Ten different rooms had classes going all day on various topics and an extremely well-stocked Hack lab occupied the far end. A latté stand marked the center point of the hall for those who found their energy levels flagging, although coffee doesn’t seem to have the same importance in Austin (yet) that it has had for years in Seattle.

About the Lights

The conference was planned well and provided more opportunities for information and meeting people than any one person could take full advantage of. In future years, though, the thing that will stick most in people’s minds will be the one unplanned event - a power outage. I was working in the Hack lab at the time, as were about a dozen other people on the 30 or 40 computers available (depending on whether you counted the portables or not), when the lights first faded, then flickered several times, and finally went off altogether. Needless to say this didn’t do a lot of good for anyone’s work in progress, and the computer monitors also sounded as if they would definitely have preferred a more polite method of powering down. The only people who escaped were those using portables that had some battery reserve. One user expressed the thought that maybe plugging in his machine was the final straw for the electrical system in the building, but I personally suspected that the Convention Center was designed a little better than that.

The power fluctuations played havoc with the fire alarms, so the next thing we new we were all being ushered out of the building until someone found out what had actually happened. It being late afternoon, many of us now faced for the first time the brutal truth of summer in Austin, Texas. Inside, the building had been a comfortable 68 degrees and humidity was, of course, no problem. In fact, several people had complained that it might be a little bit too cold in the building. Outside it was somewhere around 95 degrees and at least 75% humidity, not something this Seattle boy is accustomed to. The complaints stopped at once and I didn’t hear them for the rest of the conference. A gentle Austin drizzle started minutes later and completed the experience.

Everyone was able to enter the building again after a short wait, power returned after maybe half an hour, and everything returned to normal with classes running slightly late. Reports were that a lightning strike had taken out power for the entire city grid. Unfortunately, this included the University of Texas-Austin which provided the network connection we needed to reach the rest of the world. The network was down and, with both e-mail and Web services unavailable, the Hack lab quickly lost interest. In retrospect, though, the power outage probably helped much more than it hurt. No matter how exciting a presentation is, you can only sit through so many in a single day, and more than one presenter had been hearing soft snoring sounds in the classrooms. Now, WebEdge II will be remembered as “the one where the lights went out”.

What is WebEdge?

For those who don’t know, WebEdge is the conference for Macintosh webmasters and developers. For three days attendees witnessed presentations on new software for use with Web servers, on Web design and maintenance issues, and on how to write software for Web servers in several languages. Evenings brought the Birds-of-a-Feather sessions on various topics, from the best way to write HTML documents to the future of the Web itself. Interspersed with all of this were sessions in the Hack lab, opportunities to meet the people who own the names that keep appearing in the MacHTTP-talk mailing list, and some fine meals at a few of Austin’s many fine eating places. Personally, I loved the IronWorks, located only a couple of blocks from the Convention Center. It had great ribs and an extremely informal atmosphere that reminded me of some of my favorite places in the small towns of northeastern Washington.

There were two tracks to the conference. The first track was for webmasters and focused on design, content, and pre-built solutions, although it included a course on writing CGI applications in AppleScript (by yours truly). Speakers included Martin Haeberli (Apple’s Internet Wizard), John Hardin (author of MacWeb), Chuq Von Rospach (list-mom for the Apple Internet mailing lists), Robert Best (author of World Wide Web Weaver), and some twenty other Web folks of equal prominence. The second track was for Web developers, including many webmasters but primarily those who develop their own software solutions to customize client sites. Classes in this track emphasized programming and service provider topics such as writing CGI applications in C, the HTML and HTTP standards, and Internet Service Provider issues and answers. Some speakers from the first track spoke here too; new faces included Mason Hale (author of the CGI interface for Frontier), Jaeson Engle (of MIND fame), and, of course, Chuck Shotton (author of WebSTAR and MacHTTP).

This WebEdge was sponsored by Apple Computer, Inc., Power Computing, Starnine Technologies, Maxum Development, Delphic Software, Connectix, Adobe Systems, Inc., Everyware Development Corp., Bungee, and MacTech Magazine.

The WebHack Contest

The Hack lab was equipped with about 30 computers, an equal mix of Apple PowerMacintosh computers and Power Computing clones. I enjoyed the opportunity to give the Power Computing stuff a workout and I couldn’t find a single flaw, although the Ikegami 17-inch monitors were a bit hard on the eyes. Although everyone was allowed to use the lab, only Web developers were allowed to enter the Hack contest. The contest rules were loosely based on those from the MacHack conference, with the exception that the lab closed at midnight (because of Convention Center rules). Given the number of attendees carrying a portable of some kind, that wasn’t much of a problem. The top prizes were a PowerMacintosh 8150 Internet Server bundle and a Power Computing Power 100. Other prizes were provided by Metrowerks, StarNine, Main Event Software, Everyware, Bungee, and Ceneca, who all gave away full versions of their software, and Connectix who gave away three QuickCams.

The hack entries covered a wide variety of topics and ranged from purely fun to a future commercial product. The winning entry by Katy Agnor of The ForeFront Group, Inc. (http://www.ffg.com/) fell in the latter category. The entry was called Web Pirate, and its primary purpose was to grab pages off of a remote site and copy the entire page, including inline graphics, to your local site with all links intact. It first checked the Netscape cache to see if you already had the page downloaded, which is a big help on low-bandwidth sites. The final version should allow you to choose between designating a range of pages to get or grabbing entire site. Since copyright is a very sensitive issue on the Web right now, the final version should also have some method for a site specifically to allow such activity - and probably a name less suggestive of theft!

The runner-up (by Chris Esther) was a CGI application that fed logging data on the fly to a 4D database which would then output a real-time report of the top ten visited pages (you could filter out specific file types like GIF graphics) and the ten computers that most often visited your site. Christopher Utley created a CGI application in Frontier that allowed pages to be created, deleted, or edited on a site via a Web page. Stephen Banks created an AppleScript script that would convert a QuickTime movie into multiple GIF images which could be served as an animation on a Web site using the server-push feature (this will be a new feature on the XFiles site http://www.neosoft.com/sbanks/xfiles/xfiles.html, which Stephen maintains). John O’Fallon used NetCloak (his company’s product, http://www.maxum.com/maxum/) to create a server that had multiple unique home pages, although his trick would only work with Netscape and NCSA Mosaic clients. Mason Hale created a four-player game called “Tubin’!” using images of actual attendees who had preceded the conference with a tubing trip to beat the Austin heat. Jaeson Engle created a CGI application called MIND Controller that allowed new entries to be added to a MIND server via a Web page. Kelly Campbell stole the show, though, with a simple animation of a standard WebEdge pocket protector (all attendees got them) from which Chuck Shotton suddenly popped out.

All of the entries should be available soon from the WebEdge site at http://www.webedge.com/, along with entries from the previous conference.

Conference Highlights

Ceneca Communications was the darling of the show with their soon-to-be-released products, PageMill and SiteMill. PageMill is an HTML editor that goes to another level beyond the current crop of editors. The interface is much like that of any word processor, but has HTML as the underlying language. PageMill completely hides the HTML tags from the user unless non-standard features such as Netscape and proposed HTML-3 tags are desired. PageMill also makes good use of drag-and-drop for making links and inserting inline graphics. SiteMill includes PageMill functionality but enhances that with site management capabilities. SiteMill checks a site for dead links and other common errors at the startup. Once the links are fixed, SiteMill maintains them even if a file is renamed or moved to another folder. Fixing a link can be as easy as dragging a new file over the link to reconnect it to the proper page. Ceneca Communications has promised a pre-release version of PageMill for the many people who were ready to buy it even in alpha form. More information is available from Ceneca’s Web site at http://www.ceneca.com/.

Robert Best (of Best Enterprises, http://www.student.potsdam. edu/web.weaver/about.html) also introduced a complete rewrite of his popular HTML Web Weaver, an HTML editor written in Prograph. The new product is called World Wide Web Weaver, and has several new HTML features. The biggest change is the addition of an interface for automatically generating CGI application code to process forms. The new interface will create CGIs that can take form information and send it out via e-mail, send it to a database, or create a new HTML document, depending on the plug-in used. The software is still in alpha and can be downloaded from Best’s Web page.

The next version of MacWeb was revealed by John Hardin under his new company name, TradeWave Corporation (http://galaxy.tradewave.com/). TradeWave, formerly EINet, is aiming MacWeb and a collection of related security products at the corporate market that needs a very high level of security. In addition to authorizing the server (so the client knows that the server it thinks it is talking to is the one it actually is talking to), the new system will authorize the client to provide another level of protection for handing out sensitive information. The system will also provide encryption of data transmitted between client and server, and will be offered as a toolkit that can be incorporated into other client-server products to make them Web-enabled and secure for Internet use.

Kee Nethery (Apple Computer) and Jaeson Engle (The Jourvian Group) both presented their Domain Name Server products for Macintosh OS, respectively named MacDNS and MIND. Both are able to be primary DNS servers and can be configured to create RAICs (virtual servers with multiple machines answering to the same DNS name). MacDNS has not been released yet by Apple, but it should go into beta testing soon and be shipping in winter as part of the Internet server bundle. MIND is freely available now as alpha software and has been performing very well on many sites. MIND also has the ability to be a secondary DNS server, which MacDNS hasn’t at this time. On the other hand, MacDNS has by far the friendlier interface for configuration and management.

Starnine Technologies displayed their latest update to WebSTAR, version 1.2, which performs 30 - 50% better than version 1.1 and twice as fast as version 1.0 (which is currently on the Apple Internet Server bundle). In addition to the speed improvement, version 1.2 adds support for “server-push”, a feature introduced by the NetSite servers from Netscape Communications Corp. Server-push allows the server to keep a connection open indefinitely and pump data through at intervals, which can be used for creating animation effects or for regularly updated information such as a stock ticker. Version 1.2 also added support for “raw” files that are returned by a server without processing and is safe to use under OpenTransport (1.05 or later). Chuck Shotton warned that performance would be decreased when using OpenTransport because the ethernet drivers are not yet PowerPC-native and there are still some OT bugs to be worked out. As a side note, several people reported installing Connectix Corporation’s SpeedDoubler on their PowerMacintosh servers and getting a noticeable speed increase; SpeedDoubler improves emulator performance when accessing files, which is a lot of what a Web server does. John O’Fallon reported that his server, with SpeedDoubler installed, was handling more than 200 connections per minute (264,000 connections per day). Chuck Shotton said that their testing had the figure at closer to 350 connections per minute.

Several database connectivity solutions were displayed by Everyware Development Corporation (http:// www.everyware.com/), ForeSight Technology (http:// www.fsti.com/), and Eric Bickford (http:// www.macweb.com/). Everyware has an update to their product ButlerLink/Web, which provides an easy-to-use interface between a Macintosh Web server and their Butler SQL database. The new product is called Tango and is not only faster than the previous product (it is now written in C instead of AppleScript) but also has several new features such as a “shopping basket” that lets you save up selections from previous searches for later action. Tango obviates the need to know SQL, and generates all of the HTML forms (the user need only provide a header and footer). Everyware announced plans to add ODBC support to future versions of Tango, which would allow it to talk directly to any database that supports ODBC. ForeSight demonstrated their product, NetLink/4D, which turns your 4D server into a CGI application that can communicate directly with a Macintosh Web server. NetLink/4D extends the 4D programming language so all of the flexibility is still available. NetLink/4D is very fast and provides support for threading multiple connections. Eric Bickford showed his new product WEB FM, which provides a simple interface for linking FileMaker databases to a Macintosh Web server. WEB FM provides several methods for searching a FileMaker database quickly, updating entries, and deleting entries. Although WEB FM does not currently generate the HTML form pages automatically, that ability is planned for a future release.

Closing Address

The closing address was provided by Bill Enright, who demonstrated his product Whurlwind, which he is developing jointly with John Louch of Apple Computer (this is not an Apple product). Whurlwind is a VRML 1.0 viewer for Macintosh computers. It works by converting VRML 1.0-compliant files to QuickDraw 3D scenes and objects that can be manipulated with the QuickDraw 3D interface. VRML has gained a lot of attention because it allows a three-dimensional space to be described in a small file relative to a QuickTime VR image of the same space. In addition, the 3D model allows the user to travel around in the scene, whereas QuickTime VR may constrain the user’s freedom of motion. Internet links can be embedded in objects in the scene, although this feature was not working perfectly in the demonstration version. Bill warned users that the software is definitely still a hack (which he considers a compliment), will run only on PowerMacintosh computers (because it requires QuickDraw 3D), and needs about 32 MB RAM to run. Even given those limitations, I don’t think I was the only one to download a copy to take home.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Macs Fan Control 1.5.14 - Monitor and co...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
VueScan 9.7.96 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
FileMaker Pro 19.6.1 - Quickly build cus...
FileMaker Pro is the tool you use to create a custom app. You also use FileMaker Pro to access your app on a computer. Start by importing data from a spreadsheet or using a built-in Starter app to... Read more
Duet 3.1.0.0 - Use your iPad as an exter...
Duet is the first app that allows you to use your iDevice as an extra display for your Mac using the Lightning or 30-pin cable. Note: This app requires a iOS companion app. Release notes were... Read more
Firefox 107.0.1 - Fast, safe Web browser...
Firefox offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals and casual... Read more
War Thunder 2.21.1.91 - Multiplayer war...
In War Thunder, aircraft, attack helicopters, ground forces and naval ships collaborate in realistic competitive battles. You can choose from over 1,500 vehicles and an extensive variety of combat... Read more
Numbers 12.2.1 - Apple's spreadshee...
With Apple Numbers, sophisticated spreadsheets are just the start. The whole sheet is your canvas. Just add dramatic interactive charts, tables, and images that paint a revealing picture of your data... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 3.8.7 - Knowledge base, i...
DEVONthink is DEVONtechnologies' document and information management solution. It supports a large variety of file formats and stores them in a database enhanced by artificial intelligence (AI). Many... Read more
Drive Genius 6.2.3 - $79.00
Drive Genius features a comprehensive Malware Scan. Automate your malware protection. Protect your investment from any threat. The Malware Scan is part of the automated DrivePulse utility. DrivePulse... Read more
VLC Media Player 3.0.18 - Popular multim...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

‘Genshin Impact’ Version 3.3 Pre-Install...
Following the reveal of the release date and more for Genshin Impact (Free) version 3.3 ‘All Senses Clear, All Existence Void’, HoYoverse showcased the Genius Invokation TCG that arrives this week in the update. | Read more »
TouchArcade Game of the Week: ‘Sling Min...
The world of PC games has always blown my mind because there’s just SO MUCH stuff out there that it’s not uncommon at all for there to be a game that’s well-liked and well-reviewed, and seemingly quite popular with a solid fanbase, and have it be... | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: Reviews Featuring...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for December 2nd, 2022. So, today turned out a little quieter than the usual Friday. It was so quiet, in fact, that I decided to pen a few reviews. The Knight Witch, Railbound, and Donut... | Read more »
Blue Archive reveals its latest event st...
Nexon has announced the new update for Blue Archive, under the name of An Unconcealed Heart. Featuring a battle between two academies, the story will follow a group struggling to gain recognition, and will bring three new students to recruit. [... | Read more »
Dead Cells+ Is Out Now on Apple Arcade a...
Following the major update for Dead Cells on iOS and Android a few days ago, Playdigious has brought Dead Cells+ () to Apple Arcade. As an App Store Great, Dead Cells+ includes all prior paid DLC and content updates. It also has exclusive mobile... | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Romancing SaGa’,...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for December 1st, 2022. Wow, December. We’re already at the last month of the year? Phew. I have a lot of work to finish in the next few weeks. As for today, we’ve got a little news, a... | Read more »
‘Railbound’ Update Now Available Adding...
One of our favorite puzzlers released this year is Railbound from Afterburn Games, which hit in early September and earned our Game of the Week recognition for being an absolutely ace logic puzzler. The goal is to place rail pieces down in order to... | Read more »
The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross celeb...
Netmarble Corporation has pulled out all the stops to celebrate the 3 and a half year anniversary of The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross. The Grand Cross 3.5th Year Anniversary the Ultimate One, a rather wordy title, brings with it a brand new... | Read more »
‘Skullgirls Mobile’ Major Update 5.2 Out...
Developer Hidden Variable pushed out a major update for Skullgirls Mobile (Free) a few hours ago. The version 5.2 update brings in Black Dahlia (before the console and PC game), Retakes, XP Treats, free gifts, and more. Since launch, Skullgirls... | Read more »
Out Now: ‘Disgaea 4’, ‘Romancing SaGa: M...
Each and every day new mobile games are hitting the App Store, and so each week we put together a big old list of all the best new releases of the past seven days. Back in the day the App Store would showcase the same games for a week, and then... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Holiday Sale: Apple AirPods Pro for only $199...
Amazon has new 2022 AirPods Pro in stock and on sale for $199.99 shipped as part of their Holiday sale. Their price is $50 off Apple’s MSRP, equaling their Black Friday price, and it’s the lowest... Read more
New Holiday Sale: Apple retailers are offerin...
Several Apple retailers lowered prices on 10.9″ iPad Airs overnight to lows of $100 off MSRP starting at $499. Their prices are the lowest available for iPad Airs anywhere this Holiday season right... Read more
New Holiday sale at Amazon: Take $50 off Appl...
Amazon has Apple’s new 10th-generation iPads in stock and on sale, for the first time, for $50 off MSRP starting at only $399. Their discount applies to all models and all colors. With the discount,... Read more
Holiday Sale: Get an 8.3″ Apple iPad mini for...
Sams Club has 10.9″ 64GB iPad minis on Holiday sale for $80-$100 off MSRP through December 7, 2022. With their discount, prices start at $399 — the cheapest price for a new iPad mini from any of the... Read more
Sams Club Holiday December Event sale: Apple...
Apple AirPods Max headphones are on sale at Sams Club for $110 off MSRP ($439) as part of their December Event sale, ending on December 7, 2022, valid for all colors. Sale price for online orders... Read more
Apple’s 10.2″ 64GB 9th-generation iPads are o...
Sams Club has 9th-generation 64GB iPads on Holiday sale for $60 off MSRP through December 7, 2022. With their discount, prices start at $259 — the cheapest price for a new iPad from any of the Apple... Read more
11″ 128GB WiFi M2 iPad Pro on sale for $749,...
B&H Photo has the new 11″ 128GB WiFi M2-powered iPad Pro (in Space Gray or Silver) on Holiday sale for $749 including free 1-2 day shipping to most US addresses. Their price is $50 off MSRP and... Read more
Find the best Holiday sale price on an iPad u...
We’ve updated our iPad Price Trackers with the latest information on the new 10th-generation iPads, M2-powered iPad Pros, M1 iPad Airs, iPad minis, and 9th generation iPads from Apple’s authorized... Read more
Apple retailers are offering $100-$150 Holida...
Apple retailers have posted their most-recent Holiday sale prices on 13″ MacBook Airs. Take up to $150 off MSRP on M2-powered Airs with these sales with prices starting at only $1099. Free shipping... Read more
Holiday Sale: Apple’s 14″ MacBook Pros with M...
B&H Photo is offering $200-$300 discounts on Apple’s 14″ MacBook Pros with M1 Pro CPUs as part of their Holiday 2022 sale, with prices starting at $1799. Free 1-2 day shipping is available to... Read more

Jobs Board

Support Technician II - *Apple* Support - O...
…problems and acting as a liaison between customers and resolving groups. As an Apple Technical Specialist, you will be supporting many of our popular Apple Read more
*Apple* Electronic Repair Technician - PlanI...
…a highly motivated individual to join our Production Department as an Apple Electronic Repair Technician. The computer repair technician will diagnose, assemble, Read more
Lead Developer - *Apple* tvOS - Rumble (Uni...
…earnings, and positive sentiment About the role: We are looking for a Lead Apple tvOS Developer to join our application engineering team to expand our video centric Read more
Tier 1 Endpoint Engineer - *Apple* - Red Ri...
…Desk on site, at our Client's location, with a focus on support to Apple products. This position will handle technical support requests directly from customers and Read more
Product Manager II - *Apple* - DISH (United...
…you will be doing We seek an ambitious, data-driven thinker to assist the Apple Product Development team as our new Retail Wireless division continues to grow and Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.