Archive for January, 2007

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Expanded Image Support

January 19, 2007

Leopard hasn’t always contained the greatest support for images of various formats. If you wanted to use an image in a regular window, then you pretty much had to use a bmpbutton control, and as the name implies, your image had to be a bitmap in order for it to work. Even then, sometimes you don’t want all of your program images to be clickable.

These restrictions are being lifted with the inclusion of an imagebox control that will allow you to use images of various formats in your program. Now you’ll be better equipped to step outside of the traditional Windows software box and design the interface that you’ve always wanted. If you can design it, then you can use it, and the results of our tests so far have been fantastic.

This is something that Leopard’s been needing for quite some time, so it’s nice to finally add it.

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More Data

January 15, 2007

In the current version of Leopard, you’re limited to only embed one WeatherBug station and camera in your program, but the preview release has shown us that teachers and students want to be able to include more stations and cameras in their programs, which is exactly what we expected.

Therefore, in the latest development version of Leopard, support has been added for four of each of these controls, and that number will likely increase to five once the update is released publicly. This provides a fun and educational way to display and compare weather information from across the country.

The problem with including that much data in one program is that it takes up a lot of desktop real estate, however, a refresh onclick command will be included to allow Leopard programmers to display multiple weather stations, cameras, and other data all within one control in order to consolidate space and encourage clean program design.

With that said, if a programmer has available desktop space and the desire to flood their program with data, then they should be able to do so.

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Programming 2.0

January 11, 2007

One of my current goals with Leopard has been to extend the Internet functionality that it contains. There’s no denying the fact that desktop applications are becoming more connected to the Web, and this is a necessity. Not only are we spending an increasing amount of time on the Internet consuming content, but we’re also using some of that time to create content online.

It’s become customary to share that information on the Internet through a Web browser, but there hasn’t really been much of a push to offer tools that allow users to take that content, build applications out of it, and then distribute it in a useful way on the desktop. That’s about to change, because future versions of Leopard will help to bridge the gap between desktop software and Web applications.

I’m going to keep most of the details about what all of this means and how it works secret for now, but I will show you a quick example of a somewhat separate feature which has been included in Leopard, and that is the Web browser control.

Like I’ve said before, forget Web 2.0 – this is Programming 2.0.

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Johnny Can Code

January 9, 2007

Curtis Barron recently wrote a post on his son’s blog (Rants, Raves and Real Estate) entitled, “Why Johnny Can’t Code and How to Help Him” in response to a similarly titled article from Salon.com that discussed the current situation with kids and programming. Spencer found out about Leopard from a comment of recommendation that one reader contributed to the Salon.com article, and he both mentioned and linked to Leopard in his programming language roundup.

It’s nice to see others speak out in support of teaching programming to students. Not only can programming be fun, but it’s also one of the best ways for kids to learn how computers work, and this instruction has repeatedly opened large creative doors to young students who want to use technology as more than just a hobby.

Spencer makes an interesting point about how kids need a goal in order to get motivated with programming, and I think what we’re doing with weather information is a fantastic solution to this. It gives teachers and students a direction in which they can get started with teaching and learning how to program, and this is helpful because they’re already familiar with using the weather data in their curriculum.

Near the end of the post, Spencer also had this to say:

Some languages, such as Logo, KPL, and Leopard, are said to be oriented toward making the learning about computers fun; this may be a consideration.

In the end, if the first experiences that students have with programming are boring, difficult, and time-consuming, then they’re going to hate it immediately, and that’s why Leopard has been built in the way that it is.

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Everyone Hates Spyware

January 4, 2007

In life, you begin to realize that people don’t always know what they’re talking about. Sure, they may act like they do, but that’s not reason enough to place complete trust in what they’re saying. Many people automatically base their personal opinion on something from what they’ve heard others say in the past without doing any real research, and while we all do this to some extent, it’s a shame when the current opinions that are formed are based on false information.

When Leopard started to become involved with WeatherBug in July, I quickly found out that there is still a large number of people who are under the impression that WeatherBug is spyware. For the record, WeatherBug is not spyware. We’ve all become accustomed to free ad-supported Web sites and software products over the years, and WeatherBug is no exception.

The companies providing these services need to generate income, and instead of charging you for basic usage, they develop relationships with advertisers who will help them to monetize their products. If you want to use the free version of WeatherBug, then you’ll have to deal with some ads, but if you want to pay a little bit of money, then you can use the Plus version, which is ad-free and comes with a host of other features. This is nothing new, and there’s certainly no reason to say that WeatherBug is spyware just because it includes advertising. They’re not tracking you, and before anyone makes such a rash judgement call, they should check out what their Safe Computing page has to say.

Some people have outspokenly asked me why I chose to get involved with a company that is laundering spyware, but I just have to tell them that they’re misinformed. WeatherBug is on the right track, and speaking as someone who’s not officially part of the company and has spent some time at their headquarters, I can tell you that they’re definitely not some sort of creepy cult who’s trying to watch what you’re doing. The company is composed of friendly people who are dedicated to their mission of providing the best weather information around, and they’re succeeding.

Once again, WeatherBug is not spyware, and in turn, Leopard is not some sort of tool that allows you to create applications that include spyware. WeatherBug hates spyware, I hate spyware, and everyone else hates spyware, so let’s just put this issue to rest, OK?

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We’re Hot!

January 1, 2007

This blog experienced a nice surge of traffic for a couple of days last week, and it all stemmed from an article that I wrote about Leopard on Lockergnome. For two days, Leopard Programming was classified as one of the most popular blogs across the entire WordPress network, which consists of over 560,000 blogs.

Here’s some archived visual proof from the front page of WordPress.com:

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We may not be on the list right now, but we’ll be back. We’re coming for you, Scoble!

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WeatherBug Command Problems

January 1, 2007

WeatherBug has been rolling their new and improved Web site out to the public, and while Leopard has been able to properly communicate with the Web resources from WeatherBug since its launch, I just noticed while doing some program testing that due to these recent site changes, a few of the WeatherBug commands in Leopard are suddenly not functioning properly. These commands include weatherbug local, weatherbug forecast, and weatherbug alerts.

For the time being, please use the other commands while I work with WeatherBug on resolving the problem. I’ll let you know when everything is back to normal.

Thanks for understanding, and I apologize for any inconvenience!