Dev8D 2011 – day 2

I attended Dexy and Molly workshops and Ask the Experts discussions.

Ask the Experts about how to go about Dealing with dirty data

Top tips

  • Google Refine – CSV clean up; output into other formats
  • AntiWord – Word formats to plain text converter
  • FMT (formatting)
  • Beautiful soup (python) – scrapper
  • Scrapperwiki – remember this can be useful – can be used like a remote data store
  • Python unicodedata.normalize – to format data into normal form C – flatten aceented characters
  • Mozilla has auto detect character encoding tools

Dev8D 2011 – day 1

For the second year I have attended Dev8D, the JISC funded developer conference.  An excellent opportunity to network with other developers in Higher Education and to learn about new technologies.

Below are some highlights of the sessions and talks I attended on day 1.



  • written in Java
  • had a stable API since 2001
  • many recent API and plugin development improvements
  • direct database querying is now licensed
  • entity relationship diagram is published
  • lots of existing plugins, including text/SMS services
  • plugin exposure can be targeted to specific users
  • supports plugins not written in alternative languages
  • uses SOAP but a Newcastle chap has created a REST API
  • offers 5 free courses (supports subset of OpenID like providers)
  • granular security policies for web service API – down to the per function  level

General VLE tit bits

More VLEs are moving towards using *IMS common cartridges* providing greater interoperability

Look into further

  • LIS
  • SIS
  • OCELOT community
  • SCORM stands for Sharable Content Object Reference Model
  • IMS LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) standard uses SOAP

Lightening talks



  • feed aggregator
  • HE produced using a sustainable approach
  • Python/Django
  • Opensource
  • XML
  • JSON
  • HTML5
  • Format X – future formats
  • can still target handsets – smart/feature phone
  • very inclusive
  • long term support, University of Oxford has committed 2.5 FTE to project
See related application: MyMobile Bristol

  • Free Microsoft professional tools for students.
  • .NET


The JISC funded “Nature Locator” project will help the researchers by creating mobile applications that provide geo-tagged photographs, and visualisation tools to facilitate crowd-sourced verification of the data submitted during 2011

Related technologies

  • Titanium – translates your hard won web skills into native applications that perform and look just like they were written in Objective-C [iPhone and iPad] or Java [Android].
  • PhoneGap – an opensource mobile phone framework using HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and Cloud deployment

All your bases belong to us: L10N & L18N @ Dev8D

Malte Ressin discusses his Phd research at Thames Valley University and the issues that affect internationalised and localised projects
  • pluralisation (2 kinds in Russian)
  • sort order (in Spanish ll is one letter not double l)
  • affects many areas: sales, UI design, legal, marketing, publisher, …
  • early research required to discover any cultural content guidelines
Contact Malte Ressin if interested in being part of his case studies

What makes Dexy so Sexy for creating beautiful code documentation?

Dexy is an open source document automation tool that can help you create documents using your favourite programming languages and your favourite software.
  • Output formats include: CSV, latex, PDF, and WordPress posts
  • Can incorporate testing output (cucumber or was that water??)
  • Can automate screen shots – part of implementation of the test
  • Python command line tool


Linking University Content for Education and Research Online

Look up

Uses for RDFa to promote details for pricing info in Google

Archives Hub Data and APIs

  • union catalogue
  • could be institutional records, …
  • use EAD (Encoded Archival Description – XML)
  • provides searches/indexes of the archives
  • uses CQL (Contextual Query Language)


  • project using Linked Data
  • related to COPAC data

Look up related projects

DBpedia – a community effort to allow you to ask sophisticated queries against Wikipedia

Molly 1


  • feed aggregator
  • Opensource
  • Python >= 2.6 < 3
  • Django 1.2
  • PostgreSQL but others DB could be used
  • mobile web vs native
  • could be just used as an aggregation service not for mobile web
  • produced by University of Oxford
  • nearing version 1.0
  • akin to Java based MyMobile Bristol application developed by ILRT, University of Bristol during the same period


  • Geodata including Open Street Map
  • nearest real time bus info (Oxford specific)
  • contacts via LDAP
  • library search
  • maps – well targeted for feature (non smart) phones
  • podcasts
  • feedback/voting
  • url shortener
  • QR codes (3D barcodes)
  • oAuth
  • batch processing
  • easy to override blocks of templates and media
  • easy to plug in different data providers
  • installer will ask most setting questions
University of Oxford runs on Ubutntu 10.04 LTS VMWare ESXi, 2GB RAM
Also learnt: oAuth supports disabling device access from source application.  Useful if a device is lost.

Google developer day 2008: London

Yesterday, I attended this free, yes free, Google developer day held in Wembley Stadium, London.

Talks attended:

  • A deeper look as Google App Engine, Mano Marks
  • Gears, Aaron Boodman
  • Mashing up Google data APIs, Ryan Body
  • V8 – the chrome engine, Kevin Millikin

Talks I wish I’d attended:

  • State of AJAX, Dion Almaer
  • Lightening talks

Codelabs I wish I had attended:

  • Gears, Aaron Boodman
  • Maps, Russell Middleton

Overall vibe was good.  Plus nice freebies.

I did wish there was a session on Google applications and their features, and highlighting where these can be harnessed via data APIs.

I’ll post my notes from each session attended soon.