Tag Archives: tools

Wiki markups – Make simple things simple

With best wishes for sagisou – The weather is not good, hope you are fine and healthy.


If you haven’t edited The Great Wikipedia anytime,  I recommend giving it a try. Since what I discuss here is related closely to them.

This is the story of Wiki markup language.

For a long time studying at university, I always wonder how people can build such complex architecture like .NET Platform, Java, since it took an ordinary student months of learning just to touch the surface. When I began going to work, that fact is reinforced day by day: I almost certain that I don’t fully understand 90% of the libraries used in my projects. “Just believe the creators and use them – you are only big if you stand on giants’ shoulder”. But a question pop out: if mankind continues building such high-level technology pyramid, how long it will take for them to forget the ground?

Enough chit-chatting. When I first come across Wiki-markup, it’s just like another tool out there. I don’t put the question why it is needed, although we already have the HTML, CSS, javascript… I believe such powerful tools can satisfy most the ambitious needs, (with a little dirty hack sometime :p). I never question anything until I have trouble with it, yes, the Wiki Markups.

Most of the syntax is not hard, but some part(especially table) is very very confused! Why they ever make a language like that??

The Wiki Markup Origin

According to Wikipedia, Wiki Markups is the kind of languages which born to ease the normal writers: who don’t need to be a good HTML coders. Well, you may say that HTML is not hard, but the fact is that it’s magic to non-technical guys. In short, a new tool is built to do a simple job, which can be done with current tools instead.

But it’s not the only reason.

The second reason: in Wikipedia (and any other kind of Wiki) – the focus is knowledge, the content, how are they organized, not how they are showed for the eyes. A simple syntax will solve that problem easily, without making too much trash of bad HTML code.

The third reason: the contributors can be anyone, who ranges from a clerk, a free student,… even a blind person, whoever have access to the Internet. If Wikis give them the powerful HTML/CSS/Javascript, not many people can use it. Even if some can use it, many line of HTML code will have severe holes about accessibility. HTML standard contains many strict rules so that the website can be read by a screen-reader for handicapted people, which most websites doesn’t care (If you don’t believe, take any website and go for the w3c HTML validator).

For all those reasons, I think Wiki Markup is a good idea. A good tool helps people do things better than before, and it’s doing a good job.

But it still has much to improve, or I will continuously complain about the marking-up tables.

Every tool has its cost


For such a fairly long time I haven’t written anything. Not because I don’t have anything to write, but it’s hard to pull complex things out of my head. But now it seems to be time for a warm-up :)

One of my senior, Mr An, has a favorite sayings: “Until you don’t depends on tools, you are not truly a developer.”

Truthfully, I don’t think I have fully understand what he means. A developer with more than 10 years in this industry may have a different view to a young one like me. But to some extent, it seems to be a good idea.

For a certain amount of time I have tackled Maven, Spring Framework, Java Serverpage, Freemarker… I end up spending most of the time trying to fix bugs, caused not only by the framework, but also by mis-configuring Eclipse & its plugins. To be honest, it’s annoying

Actually, Eclipse is such a good tool: nearly everything you think that a good IDE should have, it exists in this free solution: refactoring, navigation, source-control-supported, Maven-tools… Such many functions integrated in a single program. Pretty handy, isn’t it?

But here a problem arise: when you have too much utilities, it will be hard to have a meaningful organization. It make me frustrated when right-click in Eclipse and have a 20-items context menu pop up. Still, navigating through that menu isn’t as hard as understand why and how to use the Eclipse view, explorer, hot key, configuring it to auto-compiling… Those are also the things you need to know to speed the work up. As far as I know, there’s no simple coherent way to do all the tasks.

The same semaphore also applies to any of our developer tools, no matter if it’s an IDE, framework, libraries… or even, methods. In my view, the best tool is a tool with few familiar functions, so that we can easily master and get the best results with minimal efforts. But the fact is that, as long as people want to stuff their tools out to fit everyone needs, that goal is hard to meet.

You must master a tool before you can make it work for you, so there’s a hidden cost. Imagine, if a tool doesn’t allow you work 2 times faster, do you spend 2 weeks to master it, just for use in a 1-month project?

Let’s choose and use tools wisely.