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NorthStar Development Update

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Good morning everyone, 

I want to take a minute and give everyone on the current development of 
NorthStar.  First and foremost I have committed the 'Allocation Wizard' code 
to CVS so if people could test that for me I would appreciate it.  You will 
need to update your database schema from the 1.4 format by using the 
update_1.5.<db>.sql file.  There are currently no other changes that are 
going to be made to the db schema between now and the 1.5 release so everyone 
should be good to go till a release after 1.5.

Second, I'm pushing the release of 1.5 back to 3/6/2002 (next Wednesday).  
The current code slated for 1.5 has not had enough testing and there are a 
couple more changes/features that I really want to get done to make 1.5 a 
worthwhile update.  Some of those changes include:

   Audit Log Searching 
     - view by category,date,etc..

   Get rid of Net::IP dependency 
     - a patch provided by billy@nxs.net is much cleaner and provides a 
       DRASTIC speed improvement

   Fix any outstanding tree update problems
     - As far as I can tell all of these problems have been taken care
       of, however, if anyone has additional problems with the tree not
       placing a net right please send be a dump of your 'networks' table
       so I can find any remaining bugs.

   Make CGI.pm v3.0 and above work
     - For some reason the 3.x versions of CGI.pm don't include the 
       'Vars' call.  This is a problems because that call throws the
       form data into the %form hash, which, if you have looked at the 
       code is used almost exclusively to get to the form data.  Hopefully
       this has just been renamed in 3.x so it will be an easy fix.  If
       it has been removed I will most likely re-implement in the NorthStar
       code for the time being and make drastic changes in a later version.

   Fix the last remaining tree view bug (that I know of)
     - The tree view screws up when the last item in the list is nested
       more then two levels.  This doesn't really mess anything up but
       is very annoying and confusing to look at.

If anybody can help with these items please make updates to the current CVS 
version.  Most of this list should hit CVS today (I have a bunch of changes 
left to merge), so hopefully the tree will be pretty stable by tomorrow 
morning and only bugfixes will be applied.  The Plugin API will NOT make the 
1.5 release.  Read on for more info.

Ok, enough of the present, on to the future.  Currently NorthStar has become 
rather feature-rich, however, there are some underlying changes that need to 
be made to provide for growth in the future.  One of my main concerns at this 
point is the sheer size that the code is beginning to take.  As features are 
added this will only increase and eventually slow the load time down to a 
crawl.  Some solutions for this include mod_perl, splitting into different 
scripts, etc., however, I believe that these solutions are only short term. 

In planning for the 2.x versions of NorthStar I would like to split the 
project into distinct client and server modules.  The client could be a 
lightweight Perl/PHP/C/Python/C++ program, while the server would handle the 
majority of the heavy lifting.  I've been trying to decide on a protocol to 
use for this and I am teetering between XML-RPC, Proprietary, and HTTP.  
Currently XML-RPC is ahead in the running because it is:
 a) less code to write
 b) fits what NorthStar is doing (sending a request and getting a set
    of data back)
 c) easily parseable across platforms/languages

If anyone can comments on advantages/disadvantages of any of the above, or 
even suggestions for other protocols please feel free to mail your comments 
to the list.

In terms of features for 2.x and beyond I would definitely like to implement 
the following:

 - Plugin API (each module would have a separate server and client module).
 - Ability to assign a particular netblock to a user and let them
   administrate it
 - Make a Java version of the tree viewer.  It would provide better user
   feedback by just using and expandable tree object instead of reloading
   the entire page like it does now.  This would of course be configurable
   on a per user basis so the people that hate Java can stick to good ol' 
 - Ability to set a status bit on a netblock (Reclaim, Closed, etc..)

I'm sure there's much much more I'm forgetting so send your feature requests 
to the list ;-)

Ok, enough typing for me today.. have fun folks.

- -- 
| Hitesh Patel                    |  Lead Developer            |
| hitesh@presys.com               |  NorthStar                 |
| NorthStar: http://www.brownkid.net/NorthStar/                |
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