Thursday, 29 March 2012

Interpreting software capabilities - smartly ?

What level of /intelligence/ does a software need such that it can interpret the capabilities / functions of another software?

a. Given the codebase for one software component, can it parse, deduce what the other software is trying to acheive ? (could be called : white-box analysis)

b. Can it watch the way this software component behaves in different situations (inputs) and then deduce behavior ? (black-box analysis). How much time before the it has /understood/ 80% of the behaviour? How could we quantify 80% when we do not know whats 100% ?

b.1 Would observer system watch discreetly or would it be an agreement wherein the observer provides a set of inputs to the observee to respond ?

(i think we are now in the realms of machine learning)

c. Most importantly, can it mimic the behaviors/capabilities that it learned?

d. Interestingly enough ,can the same observer software learn and mimic itself ?

A possible research area.

Friday, 23 March 2012

SessionFlow - seamless flow of sessions & context across devices

Typical pain point – you are chatting/composing message/browsing on your mobile and now that you have reached home, you want to switch to your iPad/your favorite other device.

Solution – Track mobile device orientation(gyro) change + the GPS location. If one device is getting tilted clockwise relative with the other device just below it (think about water flowing from a jug to a cup), move the session states from the top device to the bottom. Application of this could be numerous - any application context/state that you need to push to another device could be used using SessionFlow. In case of devices without a gyro/GPS, allow for session push using shared WiFi/BlueTooth etc.

 Stuff Required to be implemented :
           Client libraries on multiple devices that :
  • can interpret the change in orienatation, location, identify if it’s a SessionFlow request.
  • Push state, session, context etc to the SessionFlow servers.
  • Start target app, apply the received state/session/context to the target device application.  Etc and finally give the update back.
  • Continually push location (lat/lang) to the server. 
         Services that :
  • Allow thirdparty servers to register (see point 3).
  • Push session-flow request to thirdparty server
  • Interpret and identify another device below the mentioned device.
  • Can trigger target devices once a session flow request is received. 
        Session Flow Standards/Protocols for client apps and servers to consume :
  • An entire deck of protocols to be created for communication across systems.
  • Define communication sequences and states.
  • Enable target applications and its service application to use the SessionFlow services and libraries.
Business Angle:
  • Vendors would subscribe to sessionflow servers on the cloud for enabling sessionFlow.
  • They could use client libraries for enabling sessionflow on their device applications or just use the standard we provide.
  • Subscription to be based on number of session-moves.
  • Theoretically this can be enabled for anything – including copying files. 
  •                       Exact interpretation of location, altitude, tilt can get tricky – we don’t want the session to flow to your neighbor one floor below.
  •                      Deducing whether the target device is just below can be complex unless some smart indexing is maintained at the server.
  •                     Expect very high load on the servers due to continuous position tracking. Additionally think of non-server based solutions where two devices just move session using wifi/Bluetooth etc.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Copying Images & Hyperlinks from a docx to another.

Copying the textual data from an openxml based docx file was pretty OK - you just had to copy all the child nodes of //body node from the source to the destination.

Conceptually this would be in the lines of :

1.) load the source document's MainDocumentPart.Document to a XmlDocument.
2.) load the destination document's MainDocumentPart.Document to another XmlDocument.
3.) locate //body child node for each XmlDocument
4.) copy all child node from the source //body child node to the destination document //body child node. You might have trouble copying directly, hence use an ImportNode and then do an add.
5.) Once done for all child node,save the XmlDocument back to the MainDocumentPart.Document

All seems fine except for the fact that images/hyperlinks wouldnt appear in the destination document when opened. The following stuff has to be done additionally to get this working

1.) For each image part in the source, add a new Image part into the destination. This makes sure the final document has got the following entries added (rename the docx to zip and check):
a.) Word\Media folder has got the the images as separate files
b.) Word\relations xml has got an entry for each image with target pointing to the appropriate file in Word\Media
c.) The content types xml in the root has got an entry for this specific file type; say jpg.

Once you have the following three entries appearing right, your image should appear OK in the final document. Note that once the AddPart<ImagePart>() is done with, you would have to Close() the Package explicitly. This makes sure the above entries such as relation, content type entries get rightly saved into the target document. This is a critical step. Just saving the MainDocumentPart.Document to a FileStream is not going to help.

2.) Similar to Images, for each hyper link in source, add a new hyper link relation. This too would cause relation ship entries, content types entries in the destination rightly created.

Points of interest

If you are copying from multiple source document, you would have to make sure that while copying the child nodes, the relation-id of the content in concern (say image/blip/hyperlink) is temporarily updated to a unique-id such that it does not conflict with the same relation-id  in a different source file.

Additionally, when adding the related imagepart/hyperlink, make sure that the imagepart/hyperlink part id is same as the new id that you created. If everything goes good, when you save the Package, openxml sdk would rename all relation-id to be sequential and also update all references in the document content with the sequential-id it generated.