<< September 2005 November 2005 >>

Monday 31 October, 2005
#[linkfarm] Test-Driven Development Using StrutsTestCase
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#Happy Birthday Pumpkin

Since there were lit candles, there was obviously a birthday going on. As the candles were inside the pumpkin, the birthday in question was clearly the pumpkin's own. If it's someone's birthday, then it is impolite not to wish them a happy birthday. Repeatedly. And often. This all makes perfect sense when you are two.

Marv said Very fine pumpkin. [added 2nd Nov 2005]

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#Dem bones

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#Pumpkin hacking
Before ... ... during ...
The cavernous interior  ... and after.
Tom [e] [w] said That is a huge pumpkin [added 9th Nov 2005]

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Sunday 30 October, 2005
#It's good for what ails you

There is nothing my children have thus far broken that I haven't been able to fix with Araldite. Truly, it is a prince among glues.

Pete Ashton said But will it help when they break your heart? [added 30th Oct 2005]

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Friday 28 October, 2005
#[linkfarm] Everybody needs a personal status? page
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#[linkfarm] XML Processing Model Working Group
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Thursday 27 October, 2005
#Peter Deutsch's The Eight Fallacies of Distributed Computing

Essentially everyone, when they first build a distributed application, makes the following eight assumptions. All prove to be false in the long run and all cause big trouble and painful learning experiences.

  1. The network is reliable
  2. Latency is zero
  3. Bandwidth is infinite
  4. The network is secure
  5. Topology doesn't change
  6. There is one administrator
  7. Transport cost is zero
  8. The network is homogeneous

The really, really hard part is working out which of these might actually be true in your particular circumstance.

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#[linkfarm] The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society presents its all new silent film of The Call of Cthulhu.
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Wednesday 26 October, 2005
#[linkfarm] CVSspam: Very Cool CVS Notification Tool
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#[linkfarm] Martin Millar
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#[elsewhere] OK, maybe she is a force for evil.
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#[linkfarm] Mr Angry is on the left and Mrs Calm is on the right. If you view it from a distance, they switch places
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Tuesday 25 October, 2005
#Pumpkin anyone?

The Bean and I will be taking the knife to a very large pumpkin tomorrow afternoon. Well, he is a small boy and halloween is coming, and all that. When I say very large I mean once we've hollowed it out, we can fit Hal inside and put the top back on (or rather we could, but we'll probably do something more conventional like put a candle in it).

These pumpkin carving shenanighans will inevitably lead to a surfeit of pumpkin flesh. I'm going to roast some of it, to use in soup or risotto, but I'm sure they'll be a quantity left over. If you'd like some, give me a call and you can come and collect it. There are a million yummy things you can do with it - ravioli (if you're keen), soups (Thai or Italian style), risotto, pie, lots of stews - so why not, eh?

I've no idea how it'll taste. My Mum grew it on her allotment in sunny Cardiff, and everything else we've had from there has been top (if slightly smaller) so it should be fine. It'll be a bit bland at worst, I reckon. Anyway, if I haven't put you off, do call.

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#Building a DOM with TagSoup
import org.ccil.cowan.tagsoup.Parser;
import org.xml.sax.XMLReader;
import org.xml.sax.InputSource;
import javax.xml.transform.Transformer;
import javax.xml.transform.TransformerFactory;
import javax.xml.transform.sax.SAXSource;
import javax.xml.transform.dom.DOMResult;
import java.net.URL;

  URL url = new URL(whatever);
  XMLReader reader = new Parser();
  reader.setFeature(Parser.namespacesFeature, false);
  reader.setFeature(Parser.namespacePrefixesFeature, false);

  Transformer transformer = TransformerFactory.newInstance().newTransformer();
  DOMResult result = new DOMResult();
  transformer.transform(new SAXSource(reader, new InputSource(url.openStream())), 
  // here we go - an DOM built from abitrary HTML
  return result.getNode();

See also Screenscraping HTML with TagSoup and XPath for an example using Xalan. It's less portable, but almost certainly has lower memory overhead. However, if memory is a problem, portability probably isn't ...

Oracle alert! If you're using the Oracle XSLT Transformer, you may get bitten by a bug in DOMSource. If this is the case, you'll have to transform to a StreamResult wrapped around a StringWriter, hook the String out, and then feed that into a DocumentBuilder. Still, it keeps Larry Ellison in jetplanes.

Further Oracle Alert: Looks like their SAXSource might be bug-bound too. Bloody useless. I haven't investigated in detail, but it throws an exception in a place where Saxon and Xalan don't. [added 31st Oct 2005]
Robert Lowe [e] [w] said Useful, thanks! [added 22nd Mar 2009]
Here's an example using TagSoup with JDK5 built-in XPath processor. [added 12th Mar 2010]

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Monday 24 October, 2005

Foolishly bought Resurrection of Evil on my way home last Friday. Played it a little bit today. It is just as scary as Doom3. Right now, there's something outside the door making a noise and I don't want to go out there. So I'm going to walk the dog instead :)

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#[linkfarm] RTF EULA
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#Invoice Day!
I do so enjoy invoice day. Raising invoice day, anyway.
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#[linkfarm] Cereality has patents pending to give them an exclusive right to six business methods, including "displaying and mixing competitively branded food products" and adding "a third portion of liquid."
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#[linkfarm] Finnish culture minister wears a pirate handbag that she just criminalized
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#[linkfarm] Lucene in Action
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Sunday 23 October, 2005
#[elsewhere] You had a nan drawn by Japanese cartoonists?
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#What do people do in large bathrooms anyway?

Chez Jez has been back on the market for two or three weeks now. People aren't exactly breaking down the door to buy the place, although we have had a few viewings. A couple came earlier in the week and had a good nose round. They seemed to like the place, but the message that eventually came back through the estate agent was that the bathroom was too small.

Victorian semis, by definition, don't have large bathrooms. They didn't have them when they were built, so whatever space the bathroom is in now was created by chopping a bedroom in half. If, by some quirk, the house does have a large bathroom, then it means, like our next-door neighbours, you've given up a bedroom. People like bedrooms more than bathrooms, apparently, so most people go for the smaller bathroom option.

If you knew you wanted a big bathroom, why even bother going to look at a house which clearly isn't go to have one? You've have, a priori, rejected the place anyway, so why not save everyone the bother and not go?

Most of the time I spend in the bathroom, I spend alone. A larger bathroom wouldn't enhance my experience, particularly now they've resized The Guardian. Most of the remaining time is spent with the kids; they in the bath, me not. True, a little more square footage wouldn't go amiss now and again, but it's not something I'd make a special effort to secure. Is there some other bathroom related activity that needs lots of space that I just don't know about?

mattb said Funny, I seem to remember Nat mentioning how it was a real pain not having a big bathroom... I guess she has family get togethers in there? [added 23rd Oct 2005]
Family get togethers == kiddie's bath time. As I said, a bit bigger would make that a little easier, but we're talking about a bit of a squash for 5 minutes while they're being dried off. It's not worth not buying a house over, is it? [added 23rd Oct 2005]
allan@allankelly.net said Big bathroom - how about drying your washing when you can't put it outside?

Thing is, we've been looking at houses too and I can imagine two scenarios.

Maybe they like the look of everything else about the house so give it a look "just in case"

Or, they never intended to look at your house, but they set a viewing up with an estate agent and they decided to shoe horn yours into the deal too. They did this to us on Saturday, "we're seeing this one and Acacia" they say, "Acacia? New to me I say"

Thing is, there is a reason we didn't ask to look at Acacia, we'd seen it on paper and it wastn't us. Still, we played ball.

But actually, I hate this sort of thing. Msybe it explains why we had 20+ viewings and very few of them came to anything - consider yourself lucky they said "the bathroom is too small", usually I had nowt feedback.

And people wonder why estate agents have a bad name.

[added 24th Oct 2005]

smellygit said I remember the people who bought our last house coming round, and their small child (6ish to my untrained eye) said 'It's a small bathroom'. Her Dad said 'well you're only small'.

Have you had giants coming round looking at your place? [added 24th Oct 2005]

JohnH [e] said You might ask your estate agent to sell your "cozy" bathroom as a benefit. After all, it costs far less to keep a "modestly proportioned" room at a comfortable temperature than it does to heat a vast expanse of marble and tile. Given the price of gas these days I'd have thought that alone would seal the deal with some thrifty buyer. [added 25th Oct 2005]
wunderwoman said Sorry but you're wrong about the bedrooms vs bathrooms bit. Bathrooms are the new kitchens - in that it used to be essential to have the kitchen makeover bit to sell a house, now you need ensuite-master-bedroom plus extra bathroom(s). C'est la vie. [added 25th Oct 2005]
But I still don't understand what you *do* in this enormous bathroom. Kitchen - yes, understand. Bathroom - as long as it's got a bath and a lavvy, I consider it complete. Personally, I find large bathrooms slightly unnerving. They're like changing rooms. Any minute, a bunch of hairy-arsed footballers will come wondering in and expect to get in the bath with you. [added 25th Oct 2005]
smellygit said "Wondering in" : Is this a comment on the mental capabilities of footballers today ;) [added 27th Oct 2005]
Yes. They'd come in all blinking and confused. That's why they'd be in your bathroom and not at the footy ground where they should be. [added 27th Oct 2005]
anonymous said I'd guess they despised your house with a great passion and smiled through gritted teeth the whole time thy were viewing. Then just to be nice they just said the bathroom was small. [added 16th Feb 2007]

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Friday 21 October, 2005

Passed Bom in the street again yesterday. Didn't say hello this time though, as he was on the other side of the Wake Green Road. Practicalities aside, there are, after all, only so many times you can stop someone and say you enjoyed their gig, especially when that gig is some time passed, without appearing to be some kind of nutjob stalker. One time, in fact. Perhaps calling out "Hi, Bom!" would break some sort of kayfabe. Maybe he isn't Bom when he's not on stage?

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#[linkfarm] Sue Companies, Not Coders
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Thursday 20 October, 2005
#[linkfarm] What Is an Iterator in C++, Part 1
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#[linkfarm] An Interview with Anders Hejlsberg, Part 1
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#[linkfarm] . Communicating Sequential Processes (CSP) is a precise mathematical theory of concurrency that can be used to build multithreaded applications that are guaranteed to be free of the common problems of concurrency and (perhaps more importantly) can be proven to be so.
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#[linkfarm] Introduction to DocBook
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# Best advert on TV for years.
AngryJohn said Man, you wanna watch more TV ! [added 21st Oct 2005]
Mate, I'd *love* to ... [added 22nd Oct 2005]
lizbo [e] said er no i think you wil find it is the sony advert that is best truly mesmerizing! [added 9th Nov 2005]
Rub'dub one man in a tub [e] said What about that Breitling advert? They don't just make watches but lubricated duck shaped sex toys as well. Should be banned!

Anyway its a bit far fetched, nice looking bloke like him would needs a sex toy, plenty of bent nobs out there for the likes of him!! [added 5th Dec 2005]

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Wednesday 19 October, 2005
#[elsewhere] much more euphonious
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#Comfortably small, but still three pages too large

Can't confess to being overly fussed one way or the other when The Guardian went all new millenium and small. I'm now fully in favour as the new size is much easier to handle while on the throne. Turning pages is child's play in even the most cramped convenience.

Sadly the new format still leaves plenty of room for articles by Zoe Williams. This weeks effort in the magazine about her dog was bloody awful, worse even the her previous piece about her bike or the fawning celebrity oh-I'm-so-in-love-with-them profiles she seems to specialise in. I hestitate to suggest what her next subject might be, for fear of being right. I suspect she has a article on how much she loves her Apple Mac in the works, perhaps followed by one on her love affair with kitchen white goods.

Pete Ashton said You are, as ever, wrong. Zoe Williams is the first thing I turn to on the occasions when I buy the Saturday Guardian.

But difference is good. [added 21st Oct 2005]

You've long had a journalistic blind spot where Zoe Williams is concerned, but even you must concede that her dog training article was bloody abysmal. [added 23rd Oct 2005]
Pete Ashton said I've read far far worse, but I conceed she's better at the short pieces. And come on, Tim Dowling is a thousand times worse! [added 23rd Oct 2005]
Pete Ashton said I've though about this a bit and I think the joy of Zoe is that she doesn't pretend to be writing anything other than filler. The newspapers are full of ill-informed rubbish that pretends to be important, relevant and topical. Zoe's just rambling on about some stuff that she finds amusing with no pretensions otherwise. If you want deeply serious stuff there's plenty of that elsewhere. If you want some, dare I say it, bloggy-style reading while waiting for kettle to boil she does it perfectly. [added 23rd Oct 2005]
She may find it amusing. Nobody else does. She doesn't even clock just-about-humourous. [added 24th Oct 2005]
jonathan [e] [w] said I though the dog article was excellent. [added 26th Oct 2005]
I suspect you are yanking my chain, as our colonial cousins have it. Why? Please, why? [added 26th Oct 2005]

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Tuesday 18 October, 2005
Halbaby, post-cake
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#[linkfarm] Air Force testing new transparent armor
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Monday 17 October, 2005
#And the final cost of the Birmingham tornado is ...
£11,179.42 plus one car
... for us, anyway.
mattb said didn't your insurance cover that? is that the bit you have to pay to get the insurance to do the rest? [added 17th Oct 2005]
How do you think I know it so exactly? Because that's how much our total claim is. [added 17th Oct 2005]
anonymous said I quite like that it's 'and 42 pence' [added 18th Oct 2005]
Gevs said ...don't worry, they'll manage to claw that back over time : ). [added 18th Oct 2005]

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#[linkfarm] XFrames
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#[linkfarm] After a Wal-Mart employee turned in a high school student
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Thursday 13 October, 2005
#[linkfarm] A second tornado has struck in Birmingham within a mile of where a similar whirlwind wreaked havoc in the city earlier this year.
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#[linkfarm] PocketClive
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Wednesday 12 October, 2005
#[linkfarm] Security pros savage Tsunami hacker verdict
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#[linkfarm] TestGen4J is a collection of open-source tools that automatically generates unit test cases.
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If only ...
Amusing comedy vegetable
... That's Life was still running.

Update: I have now eaten my comedy potato. [added 20th Oct 2005]
Pete Ashton said Just occurred to me, I thought they were bollocks but someone else might have gone for pendulous breasts. Is a poll in order? [added 21st Oct 2005]
Could be. I went for the testicle option myself, although I flirted briefly with builder's arse cleavage. [added 21st Oct 2005]
Pete Ashton said Hmm, now you mention it there is something arse-like there. [added 22nd Oct 2005]

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Went to bed rather late yesterday, and so heard Radio4 shut up shop for the evening. I'd forgotton that, rather charmingly, they head off into the night, or hand over to the World Service anyway, with a quick verse of the national anthem.

Our national anthem starts so well. There's a nice introductory drum roll, to let everyone have a bit of cough and a spit, but as soon as the words start it really falls away. It's just too slow. When ordinary untrained people sing slowly, we all tend to drop both volume and tone, which means sooner or later everyone has to jump up an octave or just silently slip off the bottom of their register. If the anthem was a bit perkier we would all stop trying to sound like Bryn Terfel (while actually sounding like a rather ill Lee Marvin) and just get on with job of singing.

The South Africa national anthem always sounds terrific, a fact I attribute largely to its pace. Of secondary importance, it has four verses in four different languages, so most people are singing most of it more or less phonetically. Consequently, people just get on with making a nice noise, without have having to, for example, make the word "our" last two seconds.

New Zealanders, on the other hand, generally seem a pretty cheerful bunch. Stumble on to a group of them singing God Defend New Zealand, though, and you might think you had interrupted the funeral of a not especially well-liked relative. It's no wonder the All Blacks do the haka afterwards, as it's probably the only way they can rouse themselves to play.

Of course, even if our anthem were a little perkier, there's the problem of the words. Now being Queen, or indeed King, isn't a job I would wish on anyone. You don't get to retire, obviously, you have to meet a lot of people you probably rather wouldn't and travel to places you'd rather not go to. It's a small consolation that at important national events people sing a song in your honour, but frankly I think it would be better all round if we let the Queen retire like a normal person. We could bin all the words about what a good egg the Queen is, and instead sing a good rousing song about how top it is being British. If we could leave God out too, that would be marvellous. Dontcha think?

Pete Ashton said I've always admired the South African anthem. I wonder how many other countries have a tricky piece of counter-point harmony (I think) in the middle? Of course it does mean you need a reasonably skilled choir to perform it. At least ours can always be sung by drunks. [added 12th Oct 2005]
JohnH [e] said I've always liked Rule Britannia. It's very jolly, completely politically incorrect of course, but very up beat. [added 18th Oct 2005]

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#[elsewhere] This sends up quite a big "art-wank" flare.
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#[linkfarm] Procrastination hack: "(10+2)*5"
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Tuesday 11 October, 2005
#[elsewhere] Why don't you come with me?
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#[linkfarm] Pledge - "I will create a standing order of 5 pounds per month to support an organisation that will campaign for digital rights in the UK but only if 1,000 other people will too."
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#[linkfarm] Why we must cut the costly Crown Copyright
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#[linkfarm] A convicted hacker debunks some myths
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#[elsewhere] Definite Moseley and City Centre bias
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#[linkfarm] (for faith schools) your child or family is of the particular faith served by the school
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Monday 10 October, 2005
#Top Tips For Drivers
wunderwoman said Re: Point 2 - presume you mean useless. [added 10th Oct 2005]
Doh! Fixed [added 10th Oct 2005]

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Sunday 09 October, 2005
#[elsewhere] actually I don't know much about this at all
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Friday 07 October, 2005
#[linkfarm] SUT: XML Schema Unit Test
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Wednesday 05 October, 2005

Item: I have been a Telewest/Blueyonder customer for over 5 years, and recommend them to other people because it just works.

Item: NTL are renowned for their crappy quality of service. Everybody I know who is an NTL customer hates them.

Item: NTL announces Telewest takeover.

Item: My Blueyonder connection starts going up and down like a whore's drawers.

allan@allankelly.net said Probably a co-incidence.

However, you have to ask yourself: Do I feel lucky?

- maybe time for zero tolerence?

But then, take the path of lest-resistence, do nothing until it gets bad

Wow - how many cliche's in one comment? [added 5th Oct 2005]

Pete Ashton said Same here, and I'm also wondering if I'm just being overly sensitive.

Of course it could all be to do with this bandwidth increase that's supposed to happen soon. If it's still gammy after that then, well, um... [added 5th Oct 2005]

smellygit said I'm an NTL customer and don't particularly hate them. Certainly hate BT more. [added 5th Oct 2005]
Yea, well clearly you'd hate BT more. BT would lose in a fight to anyone ... [added 5th Oct 2005]
BY's support boys raised a ticket around midday and it all seemed to be sorted about 3ish. Top tip - don't bother emailing or phoning, use news://news.blueyonder.co.uk/blueyonder.support.access.hi-speed instead. The BY support boys hang out there, and they know their stuff. [added 5th Oct 2005]
Stephen [e] [w] said Could this be related to the Level 1 peer issue?

I am with BlueYonder as well and my access has sucked lately. [added 7th Oct 2005]

No, it was a dodgy router in Small Heath (or virtual Small Heath more likely), and was all sorted out, for me at least, by mid-afternoon.
Other than this outage, my BY service has been rock solid for years. I haven't had an outage, that I've noticed anyway, for maybe 3 or 4 years. [added 7th Oct 2005]

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#[linkfarm] Bob Mould in Toronto reviewed
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#[linkfarm] Back from Somewhere
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Tuesday 04 October, 2005
#[linkfarm] The C++ Source: Introducing the Catenator
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Monday 03 October, 2005

Slides from my ACCU 2005 presentation on XSLT Unit Testing are available at last.

XSLT is a programming language - so treat it like one. Testing it isn't actually very hard, if you get your tools to do the heavy lifting.

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XSLT Unit Testing slides available

XSLT is a programming language - so treat it like one. Testing it isn't actually very hard, if you get your tools to do the heavy lifting.

Inigo said Interesting presentation.

I'm using a different approach - I have JUnit tests with a bunch of helper methods to do XSLT transforms, to check whether XPaths match, to see whether two XML documents are the same, and to do schema validation.

Before comparing documents, I pass them through a normalizing stylesheet which, for example, puts attributes in order and collapses non-significant whitespace. Most of the time I'm checking that XML can go through a series of transformations and then come back to the original XML again, so I don't need very much in the way of validation rules.

I've also got pseudo-Schematron in my XSLT - template matches with an xsl:message terminate="yes" so the transforms crash out if there's unacceptable content produced by a previous stage. I'm planning to add an explicit Schematron stage, but haven't done so yet.

My tests at the moment test the pipeline of stylesheets as a whole - I haven't got tests for the individual functions within the stylesheets, although I've been thinking about adding them using Jeni Tennison's unit test framework (well, actually I was thinking about writing my own unit test framework, but it looks like Jeni's does everything that I want it to). [added 4th Oct 2005]

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Committed several big patches over the last week or so, the end result of which is that the XPath engine, DOM and SAX are (as far as I can tell) fully parameterised on string type. There are a couple of things left to clear up, but it's essentially done.

Up to now, the XPath engine had been confined to std::strings, so this is good news I think. By way of a test, I've been building and testing using this custom string class
  class silly_string
    silly_string(const silly_string& rhs);
    bool operator==(const silly_string& rhs) const;
    silly_string& operator=(const silly_string& rhs);
  }; // class silly_string

Default and copy constructor, equality and assignment operators - I think those are reasonable things to expect from a string class :) Everything else is dealt with by the string adaptor class, which I've also reworked a little. I'll describe that in more detail later.

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Sunday 02 October, 2005

Passed Bom in the street yesterday evening. I didn't notice his magic drumstick, but he may have had it about his person I suppose. I stopped and said hello, and how much I'd enjoyed his show at the Jug. Show seemed like the right word for what he did - stories, jokes, top-flight one-man-band style multi-instrumental playing. His face passed from initial alarm, through worry to quiet pleasure. Lovely.

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