Tuesday, 11 September 2007

The Beast Remade: Part the first

As web interfaces to various software have matured and multiplied, they have in many cases moved toward resembling traditional GUIs. Checkboxes, labeled buttons, client-side Javascript error checking and "do you really want to do this" dialogs point the way and do the required hand-holding for novice users. In many cases, this is a good thing - say, remote firmware updates or RAID configuration restores.

System administrators, however, are usually not novice users. Especially not when the web interface in question is the only available interface for a routine daily task. The task in question? To inspect a spam quarantine for false positives - a tiring chore at best. A somewhat cumbersome web interface slowed us down, so grumbles, less than complimentary epithets, and searches for a better way were inevitable.

The Powers That Be heard our grumbles, and were sympathetic to our point of view. This was not optimal, and we could use some time to find a way to speed this up. Nevertheless, any tricks to speed this up were to make use of The Official Interface, and not delve into product internals in the layers below - due to support contract clauses. So we could not manipulate the mail queue directly, even though that was the most obvious path to speedups.

(scary cliffhanger - stay tuned for episode 2!)

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