Python Programming, news on the Voidspace Python Projects and all things techie.

Resolver One Beta Now Live!

emoticon:test_tubes This is the moment I've been waiting for - the Resolver beta is now live!

For those of you who haven't been following my blog, Resolver is a spreadsheet application written in IronPython. It removes the disconnect between the grid and programming model in traditional spreadsheets. Download it from download page [1].

Your spreadsheet (the formulae and data in the grid) are converted to Python code and executed to produce the result. Your own code, Python libraries and .NET libraries, can be used within the spreadsheet and operate on the worksheet objects. This makes Resolver a wonderful rapid business application tool, and encourages maintainable spreadsheets (yay!). It is particularly fun for Python programmers, but useful for anyone who does a lot of spreadsheet work or data crunching.

I also have a resource site dedicated to Resolver.

Unfortunately, one of the latest improvements to Resolver was a change to the API to make it more intuitive. This means that some of the examples there will be broken until I get a chance to fix them (and generally update the site) over the weekend.

One of the reasons that Resolver works so well is that using a spreadsheet is programming, in fact creating spreadsheets is the widest form of 'end user programming' there is. A spreadsheet formula language is a functional (expression based) programming language. 'Under the hood' all spreadsheets basically do what Resolver does, in terms of turning formulae you enter into executable code, but they don't expose this programming model to the user - they force you to use a separate one. As well as making simple tasks dramatically easier, like abstracting complex formulae into simple functions, Resolver has lots of other interesting features (like our database integration) and based on your feedback we'll be creating lots more!

[1]Currently Windows only, but it runs fine on the Mac with Parallels and may run on Linux with Wine. Reports welcomed!

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2007-12-06 18:20:37 | |

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Webfaction, rest2web, Python London and Reportlab

emoticon:key Last night was the London Python meetup. These are still organised by Simon Brunning, but since his transformation into a Thoughtworker [1] they have metamorphosed from piss-ups to proper presentations. Many thanks to Simon for his efforts.

My friend Zi Makki, a refugee from the .NET community who has an interest in Python, was there. His presence made me aware how many less suits there are at Python gatherings than .NET gatherings. Razz

There were several presentations. The main one was by Andy of Reportlab. Many moons ago it was Andy who kickstarted the London Python community meetings, but I don't think I've ever actually been in the same room as him since I started attending. He gave a guided tour through some of the things that Reportlab do as a company, a lot of which you can do yourself with their Open Source PDF Library. They make heavy use of Django, but their 'on-the-fly' creation of bespoke PDF brochures in fraction of a second was extremely impressive.

We'd love to use their charting and report generating packages in Resolver, but we'd have to replace the C dependencies with .NET equivalents.

Remi from Webfaction was there. I only managed to speak to him briefly, but this is an excellent lead into telling you about the new deals from Webfaction. Webfaction are the hosting company I use, and they are extremely reliable and with excellent support for Python. They have just revamped their website and their hosting plans. You can now host unlimited domains and run unlimited numbers of applications on all their hosting plans!!

More importantly, their new website is built using rest2web! This is one of the most impressive rest2web created sites I've seen yet - very nice.

Which leads me to a brief mention of the presentation I did yesterday... on rest2web. Smile

I'm afraid I'm one of the people who overran with my lightning talk. I learned a couple of things though. First of all, it is very hard to summarise what rest2web does in five minutes. Secondly, it is a long time since I have done a clean install of rest2web. Most of the sites I maintain were configured a while ago and I build an updated site by double clicking on a batch file. I did my talk from my Mac (ooh Leopard - shiny!) and so had a bit of a feel of how a newbie might feel.

The result - it's not too bad. Smile Perhaps not as brain-dead straightforward as it should/could be, but not very difficult. The requirement for the macros.py file to exist if specified in the config file might stump someone who just tries to copy the config from the examples and doesn't know what files he needs. There is a great Quick Start Guide though!

Menno also gave a lightning talk, on his excellent looking IMAPClient Module module (which ought to replace imaplib in the standard library). Embarrassingly (and annoyingly), Menno spent about half the time preparing his talk, was much clearer, had better slides and didn't overrun!

Anyway, whilst I'm rambling... I had a great experience with Amazon.com. Living in the UK I rarely order from the US, but they had some Douglas Adams audio books that weren't available here, so back in March I bought two of them. Unfortunately I didn't listen to one of them until last week and CD 6 has a bizarre error (no visual defects) and the first ten minutes are just repeated on a loop through the CD. Their returns system wouldn't let me do anything with it because the order was so old, so I sent a 'complaint' email in. The first response was a form letter - "because the order is older than three months you can post the item back to us for a partial refund". I was really annoyed at this and sent another email to them insisting that as it was faulty I wanted a replacement, not a partial refund. I got a prompt reply saying that the item was discontinued, so they would give me a full refund and as I lived in the UK I could keep it rather than returning it! Now that is good customer service. Disgruntled customer turned into enthused customer. Smile

Oh, and in my Ebay fire sale I made over six hundred and fifty pounds! It must be Christmas shopping madness because someone paid me one hundred and fifty pounds for Vista Ultimate. At that price I might buy a few new and sell those as well...

[1]He's still coding in Java though. Smile

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2007-12-06 14:41:08 | |

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