Saturday, October 20, 2007

Style and Ajax functionality update.

  • The search and browse sections of the site have been restyled, be sure to check it out (example links: , ATP catabolic process).
  • A new Logo has been put into place.
  • Javascript/ functionality has been upgraded.
  • xHTML markup has been improved, the site is not completely yet (which is hard to achieve for any site using AJAX), but steps have been made in the right direction.

The new style has actually already been in place for more than a week, the reason why this announcement comes with delay is that I experienced some unexpected problems with the Ajax functionality update. The script ran smoothly in Mozilla Firefox, but getting the script to run in Internet Explorer proved to be a debugging nightmare. At first I resorted to write plumbing code to meet crossbrowser inconsistencies, but soon enough I learned a valuable lesson that each Ajax programmer sooner or later learns:

"Rely on a javascript-library / framework instead of writing pathwork code, good frameworks take care of browser incompatibilities in a much more elegant way than one person could possibly implement."

For me, the holy grail has been JQuery. Not only does it smooth out the issues with Internet Explorer, you really can do more yet write less code. The methods I had been trying to implement that met crossbrowser differences or just were generally useful (importnode, clone, remove nodes, get elements by class name, ..) apparently also exist in JQuery, and on top of that their implementation is more elegant and functional than what I ever achieved. So JQuery, I'm officially a fan.

Also discovered another quite funny example of how semantics are missing from search engines (see also the earlier post 'why we need the semantic web'). The sequence Ontology has an entry called ''. One of our ontology widgets pulls images from google to match the concept, but in this case the results are not exactly as expected. Querying a search engine and finding results specifically on 'A Band' as in the 'dark-staining region of a sarcomere' instead of some music-playing people might not be that easy.