Development Tactics

I recently set up an account with hosted-projects.com, because I wanted a Subversion repository more accessible & stable than the one running on my home desktop. I shopped around for a while, and decided on this place - it's a small project, and a starter account is only $7/month, so I figure, what the heck.

My account was set up within a few minutes, even though I ordered after business hours - I'm guessing they've got a pretty good automation system going. I get fast, secure access for unlimited users to unlimited projects in 100M of space, plus a free Trac - not a bad deal. As far as reliability and support, well - only time will tell.

The host is all well and good, but what I really wanted to talk about is Trac. I had looked Trac up some time ago, and decided to take a pass on it - it just wasn't mature enough at the time, and didn't have most of the features I was looking for.

Now, however - after some time, and a few bug tracking schemes - I find myself with a free Trac page sitting around, and I figure, what the hey, I'll give it a shot. And you know what? It still doesn't have some of the features I was looking for. But it works so well, it doesn't matter.

The whole thing runs on a Wiki engine. This Wiki engine identifies all CamelCase as wiki links, which I find a bit annoying, but I got used to it pretty quickly. It lets you easily link to pretty much anything, and inline, too: #123 is ticket 123, r456 is revision 456, etc. It hooks up to your Subversion repo and lets you keep an eye on changelogs and browse the repo; plus, this means if you put properly formatted notes in your commit messages (which isn't hard), you get links in the changelog, for free.

While not quite as versatile as MediaWiki, for example, in terms of page layout and design, it's probably easier to use - and programmers tend to go for form over function anyway. It's a developer's tool. Developers probably won't spend all day perfecting page templates and macros.

The system provides for a roadmap of milestones, a list of issue tickets, the wiki, and the repository. That's it. What's the big deal? How insanely easy it is to wire them all together. With some really basic formatting, you can turn a simple list of milestones into this.

It's got some rough edges, and there are definitely some huge opportunities yet to be taken advantage of - particularly, I have yet to discover decent, proper JavaDoc support, with full wiki integration. I may just have to learn enough Python to write a plugin for it. I'd also really like to see automatic backlinks added to all the internal links.

I know it's still version "0.10.3", but it's pretty stable so far, and everything works pretty well. I have yet to run into any bugs or bad behavior - however, you should keep in mind that this is bleeding-edge software if you're considering deploying it. Don't let that scare you off though: if you don't mind the under-heavy-development label, you really should give this little application a try and see what you think. At the very least, check out Trac's own website to see what it can do.


Status Update

I know I haven't posted here much lately, I'm sorry... My del.icio.us has been lighting up though, if it's any consolation. Basically, I've been swamped, between work, a new health regimen, and a new side project. The side project is in its very early stages, so I'm not going to jump the gun and start talking about it now... so far it's just a registration page and a login form, it doesn't actually do anything. Watch this space for more details, kids.

I am, however, trying to gain 60 pounds in the next 6 - 12 months. That's right, gain. I'm currently 60 pounds under my "optimal" body weight, with a BMI of 18.5. So I'm now on a 3600 calorie/day high-protein high-fat diet, as I want to build up both muscle mass and a healthy level of body fat. I'm tired of being cold all the time, damnit. I'm doing half an hour of heavy calisthenics every weekday (why half an hour? that's pretty much exactly when I can no longer lift myself up.) I'm also working on building a regular cycling habit; me, my girlfriend and at least one or two friends in my apartment complex are gonna join up and get our cycle on. I'm really excited about it; I haven't been cycling in a long time, but I love it, and it's good for ya.

So, wish me luck!


More Del.icio.us.ness

I have a few friends who use Stumble, and I noticed that Stumble now includes a tagging feature. I have to say, though, that I never got that into Stumble - something about their algos I suppose (or maybe the decidedly retro interface) just didn't jive with me. But, it certainly serves a purpose that Del.icio.us doesn't quite manage to accomplish... but why not?

There is, of course, the Random page on Delicious, but it's totally random. What they need is a personalized random link page that pulls a random link stumbled recently by someone else who labeled it with a label you have used. Make a bookmarklet for it, and voila, you have yourself a solid StumbleUpon replacement.

So, what say you, Del.icio.us Masters? Have I stumbled onto something good here? Or is this just not feasible from a performance perspective due to the high volume of tag searches?

Update 2/8/07: I sent this to the feedback address for Delicious, and got a reply back stating, "Basically, what you’re talking about is showing users links based on things they’ve liked enough to tag in the past, right? If so, we’ve already got something in mind." I can't wait!