Thursday, September 25, 2008

Forgotten Attachment Detector

For those few that are not aware of GMail Labs yet - GMail Labs is an experimental ground for trying out the new ideas and features from the Google team. These add-ons may or may not make it to the GMail feature list in future. Meanwhile, it is certainly worthwhile to try our hand at them.

I was awed and pleasantly surprised by this new GMail Labs feature available. Forgotten Attachment Detector warns you about sending an email without attachments. According to Jonathan K, the author of this wonderful piece of code from Google Labs - Forgotten Attachment Detector prompts you if you mention attaching a file, but forgot to do so.

See the prompting feature in action!

This is such a cool feature that it makes me think - how did we miss having this all along on an email client. Kudos to Jonathan and the team at Google labs! This add-on looks for the the word 'attach' or its derivatives in the email before sending it (somehow, it thinks 'attachments' is not one of those and does not prompt for the files to be attachments!!)

If you have still not enabled this Labs feature, take a look at how to enable them

And then enable the Forgotten Attachment Detector - and voila, you are all set!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Modal Popup Extender and flicker issues

ModalPopup extender is a very convenient and easy tool for designing lightbox style modal popups.

During development, I realized that the contents that go in the modal popup box appear for a split second when the page gets loaded. In repeated tries, I was actually able to grab a screen shot of the strange behaviour.

Look at the contents below the button! They are a part of the modal popup contents. Pretty weird, huh?

To get around this - simply set the popup panel's style to display:none.

And the modal popup extender code

Monday, September 22, 2008

Android - Google's 'Dream'

Android - another addition to the U.S smart phone industry. The smart phone market boils to two key players - Apple iPhone and it's competitor RIM Blackberry. The irony, however is that nobody even mentions Windows SmartPhones in that list (that has been in the market for quite a while).

Android OS dubbed GPhone, is about to be launched on September 23, 2008 integrated into T-Mobile's HTC phone, and is called 'Dream'. This would definitely spark a fierce competition between Dream and iPhone during the Christmas period.

Built on the Linux kernel, Android is a so-called open platform where nobody is charged for using it on the phone or for building applications on the phone. Though iPhone has a similar set up for its users and developers where millions of iPhone applications have been downloaded - the catch is that, all applications will have to be available only through iTunes store.

The highlights of Android is guessed to be
  1. Mobile OS-Linux that will include a in-built browser, 2D and 3D graphics, SQLite DB, video and audio playback, GSM, Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G wireless, camera, compass, GPS - that's a standard, neat list
  2. QWERTY keyboard based touch screen with haptic feedback (You can feel the bumps of keys and virtual games)
  3. A complete Java based development environment with a plug-in to Eclipse.
  4. Core applications built with OS - GMail, GDocs, Maps
  5. The price tag is guessed to be around $199 to position itself with iPhone, and to be a direct compeititor. There are rumors that it would be $150 for a existing customer account upgrade.

For an Android walk-through, click here and more screenshots here

As always, an average customer knows what he wants to do with a phone: make and receive calls, send and receive text messages and access some basic online information. However, a couple of months into using iPhone, I can see the excessive dependence on information on the go - Maps, search for business in a locality, emails, messengers and increased productivity.

This launch will be closely watched by a users and developers alike. Unlike iPhone, the impact this launch will cause will not be effectively gauged right after the release - it will take sometime to sink into the minds of people as yet another smart phone. This phone will certainly make its impact on the cost of the mobile and its applications.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Google's Chrome

The first thing that catches the eye in Google Chrome is its minimalist design that gives the feeling of a light weight application. Chrome is built on the existing rendering engine Webkit - framework version of the engine used by Safari and Android.

One thing that I find very interesting is the multi-process design of the application. The application resources are not shared between different tabs and so you will be able to isolate that particular website that eats memory. (Yikes! Now you can tell eats about 280MB of the 300MB browser load - Now that's something, isn't?)

The address bar has in-built auto-suggest feature that helps users to get where they are going. Chrome uses Google Suggest to fetch the suggestions as the user starts to type. It allows access to bookmarks, history, search and much more from the same place. This feature is very similar to the one available in Firefox 3.0

Downloading has become much more neat and non-intrusive - no more status bars or pop-up dialogues. This features is again very much similar to the the add-ons available for FF, the difference here is that it is built right into the browser.
The faster the website is rendered, better is the user experience and thus, better is the performance. Chrome takes advantage from its all new Javascript Engine V8 built from scratch by its Denmark team.

Chrome for Developers

DOM Inspector
The HTML Document Object Model can be viewed in a neatly organized tree structure. This however, is not entirely new to the browser world - FF has it. Although, what's new is the CSS style description on the right.

Chrome Inspector derives a lot of inspiration from FF's Firebug (a FF addon, available for IE also) . Chrome Inspector also has the pictorial resources view of the resources and their load time. This DOM Inspector is certainly a welcome start to inspect/edit the live DOM of any web document or XUL application.

JavaScript Console

Another feature straight out of Firebug is JS Console. To view this console, right-click on the webpage > Inspect Element; then click Show console at the bottom tag of the window.

Chrome finally eases JS debugging by providing us with the much awaited auto-complete feature. This command line tool feature will be more handy when used with 'Breakpoint' debugging - something that is available in Firebug and missing in Chrome.

JS Debugger

Chrome equips us with a command-line JS debugger. I looked around Google Chrome's FAQ for developers and could not find more information on how to use this. I am certain that some developers will surely find this tool powerful, but I am not in that league yet.

Memory Usage
Chrome has surely taken us by storm with this feature - a by-product of their multi-process architecture. Click Developers on the Control the current page icon > Task Manager > Stats for nerds - provides a prolific view of the open tabs and the memory usage. Keep hitting F5 - Refresh to corner out webpages that are leaking memory. This information will certainly be useful for developers to identify memory leaks.

Easter Eggs!
Easter Eggs are hidden, intentional messages in a software or application. They are the most interesting finds when an application gets released! I think many of you would agree with me on this! Here are some of the Easter Eggs I found while looking around

Try these at the Google Chrome's address bar and enjoy!