Upcoming KnitML 0.3 release 
After a bit of a hiatus to concentrate on a software release for work (and a nice vacation to the Pacific Northwest), I am now gearing up to release KnitML 0.3, hopefully within a week. Not only will it include a series of bug fixes and enhancements, but I hope to have a fully annotated schema as well as more documentation and formality of the new GroovyKnit syntax.

I'll certainly keep you posted.

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KnitML 0.2 released 
KnitML 0.2 has been released! New features include:
  • support for multi-color knitting, including schema changes and a new color swatch sample KnitML file
  • more complete internationalization support
  • support for binding off
  • Groovy support
  • first cut of a knitting pattern domain-specific language - much shorter and more intuitive than coding XML directly
Here is an example of how to apply the domain-specific language. Instead of writing this:
<row type="round">
<repeat until="end">
<purl>1</purl>
<knit>2</knit>
<purl>1</purl>
</repeat>
</row>
<row type="round">
<repeat until="end">
<knit />
</repeat>
</row>
You can write it like this:
round { repeatToEnd { p 1; k 2; p 1 } }
round { knitToEnd() }
I'll do a separate posting about writing in this expression language, as there are a few quirks to know about the way Groovy expresses functions. Once you learn the rules, though, it's free sailing.

Anyways, give the new release a go and let me know what you think!

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Peeling Back the Onion: KnitML Core 
Now that you have hopefully had the chance to play with KnitML, I thought I'd blog a mini-series about each component to give you a better understanding of how everything works.

The core project provides building blocks for defining and parsing KnitML documents. This includes:
  • XML schemas to define the KnitML syntax
  • Knitting extensions to the JSR-275 Units specification
  • Utilities for working with KnitML documents

The XML schemas


The XML schemas define the syntax of a KnitML document. This includes data type and data structure definitions. Data types are usually primitive values such as numbers, strings, and booleans (or subsets of these types), while data structure refers to the elements that can appear within the body of the element.

The body of the <knit> element can only contain a positive integer because it indicates the number of stitches to knit. This is an example of a data type definition. The body of the <needles> element, however, must contain one or more <needle> elements within it, and the ordering may be important. This is an example of a data structure definition.

You can validate the syntax of a KnitML document with most XML editors. The schema location information is located in the root element of the KnitML document (<pattern>). You can also perform syntactic validation by passing the -checksyntax option to the knitml command line:

knitml validatePattern pattern.xml -checksyntax

Keep in mind that syntactic validation is different from semantic validation. I'll cover semantic validation in my next post in this series.

The JSR-275 Units Specification


JSR-275 is a Java community effort which defines a standard measurement framework, and JScience provides a reference implementation for JSR-275. I have chosen to use this framework as a basis for converting knitting measurements between English and metric systems. KnitML Core extends upon JSR-275 to provide support for converting between US and standard needle sizes as well as definitions for gauge units (st/in, st/cm, row/in, row/cm).

Utilities


The utilities provide code support for common concepts used in other components. This includes common exceptions and enumerations, constants for XML elements and attributes, and parsing utilities. KnitML uses dom4j, a Java API for working with XML documents as an in-memory tree structure. KnitML Core builds on dom4j to provide additional support for KnitML-specific data type parsing, methods such as isKnittingOperation() and getGaugeForElement().

KnitML Core's dependencies


The KnitML Core project, like the rest of the KnitML projects, are built using Maven 2. This means that you can identify a project's dependencies on external components simply by examining the pom.xml file in the root directory of each component. KnitML depends on Commons Lang and Commons Collections, dom4j, and JScience. In the next release, KnitML will also depend on Spring Core and Spring Beans as these components provide XML schema resolution tools useful for offline schema lookups.

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KnitML 0.1.1 released 
This is a minor enhancement / bugfix release which provides the following functionality:
  • Java 1.5 compatible
  • Shell script for *nix environment (tested using Cygwin for Windows)
  • Full featured validator no longer requires "needle1" and "needle2"
So now all of you running 32-bit Mac OS can celebrate!

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KnitML 0.1 Released! 
Ladies and gentleman, we have a release! I have put it up on SourceForge. Please download it and let me know what you think. Choose your download format (tar.gz or .zip) and unpack it to the directory of your choice. All files in the archive start with the knitml-0.1 directory, so you can unpack it into a generic directory (such as C:\projects, for instance).

Once you've unpacked the files, read the README.txt in the root directory. It will tell you how to set up your environment so that you can run the knitml command from any directory. Take a look at the samples/basic-sock directory to see how the sample is structured and to try out the knitml executable.

The command you'll most be interested in is:
knitml validateAndRender filename-to-process

And to capture the output to a file:
knitml validateAndRender filename-to-process -output pattern.txt

Known limitations

Because I forgot to remove some hard-coded meta information from the validator, there is a limitation that you can only use needles with an ID of "needle1" and/or "needle2" and pattern messages in a file (or files) named pattern-messages.properties. The sample conforms to these limitations, so please model any patterns you write after this fashion (for now, until a bugfix release comes out). Hopefully, you won't need to use more than 2 needles right away in your patterns. Also, the 'knitml' executable is only currently available as a Windows batch file. If you are running on a *nix platform, you will have to call the Java program manually. If someone would like to contribute a *nix script, I will be more than happy to include it in a future release.

Development and Contributions

Please submit bugs and feature requests to our issue tracker. You have to sign up for an account, but I promise it's quick and painless, and your e-mail address won't be used for anything other than notifications of the progress of issues you submit. Please, please, please provide your feedback and help to better the KnitML project!

If you are interested in downloading the source code (hopefully with the intent of contributing), it is stored at the Sourceforge Subversion repository. The SVN URL (for access with an SVN client) is https://knitml.svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/knitml. I apologize but I have not been able to get my assembly tool to give me a reliable source package yet. I may assemble something manually and upload it in the coming days.

The project is built with Maven 2. I use Eclipse to develop KnitML, so all of the required Eclipse artifacts are also in the repository. I also use the Maven plugin for Eclipse, and I highly recommend it. Note that you can still use a different IDE to develop KnitML, it's just that the artifacts are not (as yet) checked in.

The project is organized into several modules:
  • knitml-parent: top-level meta-information about the project, including build configuration
  • knitml-core: contains XML schemas and core processing code
  • knitml-validation: provides a mechanism to verify that a KnitML pattern is knittable
  • knitml-pattern-renderer: produces a human-readable pattern from a KnitML pattern
  • knitml-tools: provides executable classes to bind the modules together
I recommend downloading all of the modules to start with. The development stream for each module is located under: module_name/trunk.

Thanks for everyone's continued support to get us to a 0.1 release!

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