Monday, January 18, 2010

What I'm working on now

Back in February 2009, I had announced that I was taking an absence from the FreeDOS Project to focus on a Masters program in Management of Technology (MOT). Over the next few months, I transferred my roles in FreeDOS (webmaster, SourceForge admin, ibiblio admin, etc) and finally stepped aside in May 2009, with Pat Villani now acting as the new FreeDOS Project Coordinator.

Since then, some very positive opportunities have come my way, and I have decided to defer entering the MOT program—at least for now.

So what have I been doing, if I haven't been busy in MOT?

You've probably noticed that I've been making updates to the FreeDOS web site. Some changes are very visible (the web site redesign, for example) and others not so visible. One of those "behind the scenes" projects that I'm working on at the moment is building a new version of the FreeDOS Software List.

The current Software List is a set of simple perl CGIs that act on a set of regular LSM files, displaying them in various tables. It was an easy solution for how to quickly and easily display details about the programs we include in the FreeDOS distributions. To manage the Software List, a webmaster just uploads an LSM into a particular directory, and the CGIs do the rest.

I once wanted to write a set of CGIs that would allow "Software List administrators" (for lack of a better term) to update software list info via a web form, and keep all the data in a database, so not have to upload files anymore. The idea was that an "admin" should be able to edit fields directly, or upload an LSM and let the system parse the LSM appropriately before importing fields into the database. And be able to display the data via web pages (like we do now), or as XML (useful for FDUPDATE), or as a correctly-formatted LSM file (for the FreeDOS Install program.)

That's what I'm working on now. The "Software List" part is working great, and looks very nice. (Sorry, I don't plan to share the URL until this is closer to "live", so no one gets confused when they look at "test" data.) The "Editor" function seems to be solid. Right now, I'm trying to finish up the "Import" process.

Once that's done, I plan to do some code optimization, identify duplicate code and move those into functions, that sort of thing. Later, I'll write a "Report" function that generates a status of the Software List, useful in finding/fixing missing or bad data.

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