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Ymacs — AJAX source code editor

I just released a new project that I've been working on for about a month: Ymacs is an AJAX text editor, suitable for editing source code (currently there is support for JavaScript and XML, but more modes could be easily implemented).

Ymacs is a DynarchLIB widget, which makes it easily embeddable into any DynarchLIB application.  This doesn't sound impressive, isn't it, but here's the real good news: I've decided to open source DynarchLIB and release it under a BSD-style license.  Some folks might believe this project is already dead, but this isn't so; it is true that there was no new release in almost two years, but the thing kept being improved and there are people using it in successful commercial applications.

Well..  This should happen any minute, but I'm running out of time, as usual.  So it could take a few more days to push a new DL release.  In the mean time, go check Ymacs, it's pretty cool.  It has Emacs key bindings too. ;-)


JavaScript: Unicode letters (in RegExps?)

As you probably know already, Firefox's browsers' regexp engines don't "know" Unicode.  The \w specifier seems to be equivalent to [a-zA-Z0-9_], which is far from sufficient to match word characters.  After some googling I found XRegExp, a pretty cool library that extends the basic JS RegExp object.  It adds some useful magic, and—surprise—unicode support is available as a plugin.

Nice going, but since I need this in a very time intensive operation, it was rather slow.  (As you will see below, it's quite possible that XRegExp isn't to blame for the slowness).

So I thought I'd copy the bits that I need from the source code, and use them with standard JS regexps, rather than XRegExp.  If you look at the source code, it has a huge line for a "L" property (it's lowercase in the code) in a hash which defines the Unicode ranges for characters that are letters.  Later in the code, with a for loop it constructs the actual regexp.

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DynarchLIB release

I finally released probably the biggest projects that I've independently worked on.  DynarchLIB is a fully-fledged user interface toolkit for development of Web applications.  It contains a rich set of widgets, a consistent object/event system, browser-server communication helpers, various JavaScript extensions, etc.  Worths checking it out. ;-)

Also see the Dynarch online chess, currently the first public application based on this toolkit.

PS: the administration frontend of this very site is based on DynarchLIB as well. ;-)


Firefox slowness identified

I talked previously about the Firefox problems on Linux, however, I now identified a case that can reproduce the slowdowns.  It happens when you have a lot of text in some element.  Even if that element is displayed with overflow: auto, or overflow: hidden, it'll be slow as hell to drag'n'drop it.  Additionally, all operations seem to be a lot slower in the whole page (that is, even if they don't directly affect that element).

Here is a demo that shows the problems.  If you're running Firefox on Linux the poor performance should be easy to see; if you're on Windows, use more lorem ipsum. ;-)

If you have any idea how to work around this issue, I would love to know it—please share your thoughts by commenting in this page.

The fastest browser on Earth

I never thought I'd say this, but here I go: Safari is the damn fastest (modern) browser on the planet.  Nope, it's not Opera, not Firefox and definitely not IE.

I'm playing with Safari 3.0.4 on Windows and it simply rocks.  The rendering engine is quite good as well—I'm doing pretty heavy AJAX stuff and there was no special hack I had to do for Safari.  So let me congratulate the WebKit team for this fine product! (I still can't forgive Apple for using KHTML instead of Gecko; Gecko is better, it just needs to catch up with performance and it looks like this is going to happen in the next release).


Firefox on Steroids

... or not?

Firefox speed is actually OK, but only in Windows.  If you use Firefox on Linux, you'll find it unacceptably slow for certain things (such as handling CSS opacity, or JS-based drag'n'drop, etc.).  OK, it's generally fine—but not for the type of applications I work on. :-)

To make an idea, I tested FF2 running on Windows in VMPlayer, on an average machine, and I accessed it using rdesktop from another machine in my LAN, over a wireless link.  It's still waaaay faster than the one running natively in Linux.

I downloaded today the Firefox 3 Alpha-2 build, which for some reason is codenamed "Gran Paradiso".  Or something.

The good news is that it's a lot faster than the version I'm currently using (  I'm looking forward for the final release!

Update: hmm, just gave it another try and I think I might have been too excited the first time.  The “speed” is pretty much the same as in FF 2.0, the biggest difference being that Gran Paradiso has some nasty layout bugs.

Why don't they care about Linux? :-(

Update 2: WTF am I saying?  It's unbelievably fast!  Let's just hope they fix all the bugs.

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