26/06/2008: Mailing List 26/06/2008

Dear FreeNATTER,

I hope this mail finds you well and the system continues to be useful.

1. API

The latest stable beta (0.04.25b) offers an XML and JavaScript API which is now also documented in the support section of the website. Please let me know of any query types etc you might like to see. There are some very simple examples as well in PHP (for XML) and JavaScript though I hope to write a proper PHP XML handler for the data at some point.

2. DNS

0.04.25b brings into stable release the new DNS tests. You can perform a simple forward/reverse lookup using local methods on the FreeNATS server or query a nameserver directly for a record type. DNS is a cool binary protocol which is why it took so long to write the test method (so I say anyway) and, if anyone is interested, I have released this as a separate standalone PHP DNS API which is available from www.purplepixie.org/phpdns

3. Stable Releases Seem Stable

The long and drawn out alpha testing seems to be vindicated. Listing the system as stable has increased downloads but not really led to any support queries or problems reported. Sincere thanks to everyone who has and continues to participate in the testing and development.

4. Contributions

No, I don't want your money. Or rather, of course I do but am convinced you would never send any so will just pretend I don't. 1.x will include the ability to plug in custom tests (on the FreeNATS server), run tests on nodes and write custom event handlers. If you think you might like to write server-side tests (PHP) or node data support for Windows, some crazy AJAX live monitor or anything else then please get in touch. Although nothing is pluggable right now I am in the process of finalising the protocols for the nodes and designing the event handlers etc if you get in touch we can discuss how these things are handled before they're actually finalised.

There is a post on the forum specifically regarding contributions if you are interested.

5. Spread the Word

FreeNATS is now stable and if you think the system is actually useful why not spread the word by linking, blogging, submitting or listing the system somewhere. Top kudos to Aday who (in addition to much other great help) blogged FreeNATS before it was even a stable release (I would link it but the blog seems to have now disappeared - no doubt in shame).

I developed the system to meet personal needs but as I was in the mindset "this really is the very last network tester I am ever going to write" had to make it a "proper system" which could be developed rather than just remade for future needs. As a result I thought I might have something other people could use and so GPL'd and released it.

Consequently what I did was get a load of very kind and very smart people (yes I do mean you) to do all my testing and feature specification for me. Users have suffered and reported bugs that would have only cropped up for me some years hence (that lax is my testing!) and no doubt at the worst possible moment. Hang on I am coming to a point...

My point is, if you spread the word there are more users. More users means more chance that the lax 4am piece of code that destroys the database and detonates the PSU affects some other poor soul who reports it, I fix it, you update and it never affects you.

Oh perhaps I ought to say that naturally my prime motivation in releasing FreeNATS open-source is to better humanity and give something back to the wonderful free software community that has given forth the wonderful bounty of tools I use rather than just to get other people to find my bugs for me ;o)

6. FreeNATS Forum

Following my last grovelling and humiliating email Dr Watso was the first (and so far only, apart from a support query) person to post to the forum. For that he won a prize so wonderful that I dare not speak of it here for fear of fascist mail filters. There are many prizes still available for forum postings including an abridged copy of my ongoing and quite baffling email conversation with someone in the Far East who is asking me support questions about a system that not only isn't FreeNATS but doesn't appear to actually be a networking product at all.

As always let me know if you have any suggestions or find any bugs.



P.S. I realise I have got to the end and failed to thank (yet again) the uber-user who seems to spend more time than me on the project and has yet again helped massively in development and testing of the new tests and API. So, thanks again Ole.

Forum: http://forum.purplepixie.org/viewforum.php?f=3

Web: http://www.purplepixie.org/freenats/

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