Coding Dojo Tonight

Tonight was the latest Coding Dojo. We were picking up the mantle from the previous time. This evening was peculiarly intense, thanks to Piers dropping in.

Despite not completing the task (as per usual!), I learned an enourmous amount from the interaction this evening. It felt really humbling to be amongst people who knew so clearly what they were trying to achieve. Chatting to Piers afterwards made me realise how I tend to be very focussed on solving the problem at hand rather than stepping back and trying to create something beautiful. I need to go back and read TDD and Refactoring

On another note, I’m really looking forward to the festival dojo. It’s the 10th of May. Come and join us.


XQuery Redux

I spent four days last week on a training course, most of which consisted of learning XQuery. I’m a lot happier with it now that I was a couple of months ago. In particular,

  • OxygenXML or Stylus Studio are pretty good IDEs. A little cluttered, but an improvement over vim & Emacs.
  • XQuery 1.0 is now out.
    • It’s a minor shame that the product I’m using doesn’t support it fully yet, but that’s just a matter of time.
  • I’ve come to term with the type system. I’ve worked out where it can help me more than hinder me. I continue to be shocked when I return the wrong kind of element from a function and get a type error. Dunno why, it’s doing the right thing, but it still surprises me.
  • I ♥ XPath. It just rocks in so many ways.
    • Heh, James Clark was the editor. That explains a lot.

Overall, this is good news, especially given the fact that I’m embarking on a large project that’s utterly dependent on XQuery.

On the downside,

  • XML namespaces suck. You can tell this is true, when in a room where 5 developers have been involved with XML and namespaces for over 5 years each, and they still don’t get it.
  • The implementation defined areas still loom quite large.
    • I suspect that this isn’t really a big issue in practice, though. You’re not likely to be swapping out XQuery implementations with any frequency.
  • I still despise the smileys-for-comments.

Anyway, if you’re playing around with XML in any seriousness, it’s probably worth checking out XQuery. It’s surprisingly useful.