Site Upgrade

I just upgraded the site to WordPress 2.0.2, upgraded a few plugins and upgraded the Zmanim Calendar Generator to use v2 of the Google Maps API. I hope to have an update available for the Zmanim API that will allow easier porting to different languages. This will necessitate changing the API from using inheritance of the Java Calendar classes, to one that uses composition. I will try to keep you posted on this progress.

Zmanim RSS Feed in the Works

The Zmanim API currently has 2 sample classes in the output package (no longer available). One the ZmanimXLSGenerator outputs zmanim as an Excel spreadsheet and is currently used in the Zmanim Calendar Generator, the other that is not fully maintained outputs zmanim in a PDF format (no longer available). I just started work on the third output class. This will generate an RSS feed of zmanim for a given location. I plan on outputting zmanim for the current day and the following week. The API that will be used is ROME. It seems pretty stable and relatively easy to use.

Zmanim Calendar Generator TODO List

Sunrise CalendarI slightly updated the Zmanim Calendar Generator to add some user input validation.
Looking at the logs, I noticed that someone generated a calendar with the longitude and latitude of Lakewood, NJ (the default), with just the location label changed to Minneapolis, MN. I don’t know if the user was just testing, or just assumed that I picked up the geocoding information by parsing the location name. This led to the addition of a JavaScript confirm when the location name is changed.
Items on the TODO list are:

  • Use JavaScript to convert the longitude and latitude when the format is changed from decimal to degrees, minutes and seconds
  • Provide links to locate longitude and latitude information
  • Add support for the generation of a standard (not full as is the default now) calendar with a much smaller set of zmanim
  • Implement the generation of PDF calendars
  • Possibly use the Google Maps API to allow the selection of longitude and latitude information

The code for the PDF generation is already in the API but has not been updated in a while and does not work properly. This will also have to be updated for the standard calendar mentioned above.
The way I envision interacting with Google Maps would be to allow the user to center their location in the map, and have those coordinates used for the zmanim calendar. This would have been relatively trivial if they provided geocoding information, by just allowing the user to enter their location as it can be done at Google Maps, but they currently do not provide geocoding information. I haven’t touched their API yet, and although it does not look too complex, it will probably take a while.

Search engine optimization?

Do a Google search for "javadoc api" and amazingly the API Docs page shows up at number 9 (number 10 if you omit the quotes). I somehow doubt that the tweaks last week had this effect. I guess not too many pages have these words in the URL, title and page content. It’s still nice to be in the same list as Sun. Interestingly Sun did not end up in the first place. I found this via the log files when I noticed a referer (not a typo) of the Google search for javadoc api.

Zmanim Pages Updated

The static pages for the Zmanim project have been slightly updated. The main zmanim page has been revamped, an instruction page added and some other minor changes made. One change to the main page has been the addition of the list of types of zmanim that can be calculated. One reason for this change was for search engine optimization. I ran AWStats on the log files for the last month and a half and the following search phrases brought people to the site (listed in order of popularity)
“hebrew date”, “zman krias shema”, “hebrew date php”, “kosher coffee”, “zmanim nassau”, “zman tefilah”, “time of sun in zenith calculate”, “zmanim”, “wordpress hebrew”, “elevation of sun time of day”, “harfenes”, “asia generator”, “date hebrew”, “xsd time format”, “hebrew plugin”, “plag hamincha”, “get calendar java calc”, “zmanim calendar”, “jewish zmanim”, “calendar generator”, “milliseconds xsd time”, “annual calendar generator”, “java calculate start of the day”, “calculating sun zenith angle”, “calendrical spreadsheet”, “calculate mincha gedola”, “milliseconds into minutes”, “sun s zenith”, “javadoc api “, “time formats milliseconds”, “sof zman krias shema”.
The logs also showed that many people who were searching for zmanim related searches never moved beyond the JavaDocs pages that matched their query. The technical nature of the page probably threw them off. The addition of the listing of types of zmanim will hopefully lead many searchers to the main page instead of the JavaDocs page in the future.