Sunday, December 25, 2005

What's Planned for the Future for This Blog?

You may be interested in some of the things planned for the future for discussion in this blog and, more particularly, interested in some of the programs whose source code serves as the basis for the discussion. If so, read on!

Future TraverToys and/or longer programs are designed to illustrate how to perform these tasks:

(1) download a particular file from a certain Web address
(2) download all of the files of a particular type (e.g., .mp3 or .gif) from a certain Web page
(3) "harvest" email addresses (or http links) from a certain Web page
(4) "obfuscate" mailto links on a Web browser so as to let Web browsers access them normally but make it less likely that a "spambot" can harvest them
(5) convert simple text to simple HTML
(6) handle standard Unix-style "diff" files to update text files
(7) display a standard (e.g., .jpg or .gif) graphics file
(8) show one cross-platform technique to allow multiple file selection (plus one technique that works only with Windows)
(9) present a slideshow (including several ways to select multiple files
(10)modify source code so that blank lines appear before and after logicial units (if/end if statements, for/next loops, etc.) for increased readability
(11) modify source code to eliminate unnecessary spaces on each line
(which, along with the routine to remove blank lines, will reduce the amount of paper needed to print out source code)
(12) add a blank space in source code on each line after commas or before and after mathematical symbols (+, -, *, /, ^) or parentheses for increased readability.
(13) add automatic comments on source code lines starting with "Next," "Else," or "End If" to make it easier to follow the thought of long, complicated, or nested If/End If or For/Next loops.
(14) "obfuscate" source code by switching around the names of controls, properties, methods, variables, etc. (or "unobfuscate" it, if desired)
(15) change the name of a method, control, property, etc. throughout an RB Project
(16) count the lines in the source code for a program and indicate the type (normal source code, blank line in the source code, source code containing "hex bytes," etc.)
(17) check to make sure that no properties and variables have been given the same name or that no two counter variables on different levels of a nested For/Next loop are given the same name in an RB Project
(18) check to make sure that all Functions in an RB Project contain a Return statement
(19) add automatic headers (e.g., identification of purpose, programmer name, date, etc.) or automatic footers (e.g., exception handler) to each method in an RB project.
(20) enhance William Yu's Shisen-So game program to include the ability to move Back one or more steps, to move Forward again, to Re-set the gameboard to its original position, to Save to disk or Open from disk a game position at any point, to save on disk the "Top performance," or to Pause the game at any point.
(21) illustrate various "Coney Games," such as NimRow, 31 or Die!, or Tic Tac Toe Philadelphia Style
(22) show my own approach to a "Diff/Patch" program for providing updates to text files
(23) modify the "text editor" in the Tutorial to work not with "styled text" (or "Rich Text") but with plain ASCII text
(24) show how to add a "whole word" Search option (making use of RegEx routines)
(25) convert simple HTML to simple plain text
(26) suggest changes in, or additions to, the Language Reference

In addition, there are plans for the following Windows-specific programs:

(1) a simple API-based "mini-player" that can play audio CDs, .mp3 files, .mpg files, and .midi files
(2) a utility to show how to remove, as desired, display of Windows desktop icons, task bar, system tray, clock, etc.
(3) a utiltiy to allow "block comment" for all comment markers ("//" and "Rem " as well as "'")
(4) a simple Windows clipboard utility that will simplify insertion of boilerplate text of snippets into RB Projects

IMPORTANT: Thus far I have posted eight blog entries and four RB Project files, but I have gotten back almost no feedback as to whether people are getting any use of, or benefit from, them. If you are reading this, please let me know by sending a private email to or by posting a comment here. It doesn't have to be a long note, but I need to know that I'm not just talking to myself! Thanks.

Incidentally, all RB Projects are now available in three formats: .rb, .xml, and .zip (one Mac person reported getting "gibberish" when he downloaded the .rb files).

Barry Traver

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