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NH Ruby September 2011: Backbone.js Jason Morrison

Twelve folks attended the September meeting of the New Hampshire Ruby Rails Group. Due to some logistical issues, we moved the meeting from NH-ICC to AlphaLoft, thanks to AlphaLoft member Nick Plante. Jason Morrison of thoughtbot was the featured speaker, talking about backbone.js.

Organizer Brian Turnbull got the meeting started with brief introductions.

Clients want the improved client-side experience of rich-client apps within the browser.

But which framework? Different patterns: MVC2 is what we’re used to seeing in Ruby/Rails. MVC and MVVM (Model-View-View-Model or Presenter).

Choice fatigue (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html) : there seem to be more JavaScript frameworks than JS developers.

  • Capuccino – PowerPoint in the browsers, 270North
  • SproutCore (1,x,m 2.z) ricu Ui widget framework,.0 from the ground up rewrite, less widgets
  • Knockout.js: useds the HTML5 Data- elements
  • Batman.js – from Shopify, ActiveMerchant, using Node.js server-side component
  • JavaScriptMVC – mature, uses jQuery, filterable grids, lots of power
  • Spine.js – CoffeeScript, asynchronous front end, does full validation on client-side
  • Backbone.js – tonight’s featured framework, well-documented (in Doc-O)
  • Angular, Coherent, PureMVC-js, AFrameJS, TrimPath Junction,

Moving parts:

  • History
  • Router
  • View
  • Model
  • Collection
  • Sync
  • Underscore
  • $

Jason wowed the crowd with an excellent demo of an app under development and spoke eloquently of the power, and the dangers, of deploying MVC (or MV-something-else) into the client. His slides contained a great many good references. My laptop gave out at this point, so I didn’t take additional notes, but you can find his slides at http://jayunit.net/backbone-js-on-rails-talk and source for the slides at https://github.com/jasonm/backbone-js-on-rails-talk/blob/gh-pages/slides/index.md

One of the little things that got the crowd all excited was the line numbering on Jason’s Vim session: the current line was numbered 0, and line numbers incremented both up and down the screen. “Oh, that” Jason said. ‘set rnu’ is the command (see :help rnu within vim for details.)

Michael Tomer talked a little bit about his project, rocket.io, which is an interesting project trying to solve similar problems: “real-time” (no http lag) page updating, background sync between client and remote server. You can find his work at [updated link] https://github.com/actsasbuffoon/rocket-io

Thanks to Jason for an awesome presentation, to Nick Plante for hosting us at AlphaLoft, to Brian Turnbull for organizing the meeting, announcements and logistics, and to all the attendees for their participation.

NH Ruby meeting, 15 August 2011: Brian Turnbull, Rails 3

Brian Turnbull ran and presented to the August meeting of the New Hampshire Ruby Users Group meeting, held at the New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center. Over a dozen attendees turned out for the meeting, despite the inclement weather.

Brian presented an introduction to Rails 3 using a small application he had built for  work. He gave us an overview of the problem to be solved, skipping the irrelevant details, and explained how that fit into basic MVC concepts. We touched on the idea of design patterns. We examined or discussed many facets of Rails development, including rake tasks, migrations, fat models – thin controllers, using HAML for view templating, creating your own custom validators, deployment using Capistrano and more.

Brian mentioned several useful resources, such as Google, the Rails Guides, the API reference,  and more. He mentioned that he’d read Metaprogramming Ruby and thought that it changed his perspective on using Ruby.

As always, there was time for folks to get their questions answered. There were questions on stack dumps in rake, unobtrusive JavaScript, new features of Rails 3, Capistrano deploys to non-git-clients, and more.

Thanks to Brian for a information-packed presentation, and to all for attending and participating. Brian is always looking for ideas for future meetings and volunteer help in organizing.

 

Seacoast WordPress Developers Group, April Notes

On April 6th, the Seacoast WordPress Developer’s Group met at the New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center to talk WordPress. Networking and casual conversation started around 6:30, with the meeting formally starting at 7 PM with a round of introductions:

Dave – former Cold Fusion, ETL, new to WordPress,
Carl Eric Johnson – web developer, WordPress instructor and eveloper, fan of Thesis framework.
Amanda – BIL doing Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress
Sharon, Rye Public Library, Technology Coordinator, just launched a freshened site on April 1st using WordPress and Atahualpa theme/framework.
Will, a graphic designer in a print shop who’d been encouraged to learn web design and now WordPress.

Book recommendations:
Amanda praised the Wrox Professional WordPress book.
Carl Eric has enjoyed WordPress: Visual QuickStart Guide to get up and running, and WordPress Bible(Aaron Barzell) from Wiley as a reference.

Main Presentation: Carl Eric Johnson: talk about themes and frameworks
Sitepoint.com Wicked WordPress Themes book has free sample download chapter. Table of contents points out the choices of custom themes, child themes, building a framework.
Child themes: load with parent’s theme files, in your child file, you import the parent, then override what’s different.
In WordPress 3.0, theme TwentyTen has a lot of options built in. Thesis and Atahualpa have a number of pages of options: sizing, features, colors, styles, etc.

Amanda talked about file structures and “the loop” – directories of wp-admin and wp-install are pretty much off-limits, containing the installed WordPress files and overwritten up updates; wp-content contains most everything else, including the stuff you customize. Add your own functions.php and copy the functions you want to override. A theme consists of index.php and style.css as a minimum; you can add as much as you want from there. See the Codex for the hierarchy of theme files WordPress looks for in order to render your content. Consider starting with a “blank” theme if you’re building your own, such as Starkers or Boilerplate themes – essentially stripped-down skeletal themes with all of the style removed.

See http://codex.wordpress.org/Template_Hierarchy for a description of how WordPress selects the correct template(s).

See http://codex.wordpress.org/The_Loop_in_Action for an overview of the loop.

TwentyTen Header Rotator Follow-up

Ah, the power of the web. I posted the problem I was having both here and on the WordPress.org web site, and within a week, another developer pointed out the simple one word addition to the plugin code to make it work in WordPress 3.1. Problem solved!

Now that I’ve spent some time poking at the code, and inspired by the “How to Build a Plugin” presentation at last Seacoast WordPress Developer’s meeting, I’m thinking of a fancier plugin that will let you load up as many images as you want and shuffle them. Inspiration is one thing, perspiration is another; I’ve got enough on my plate right now that this is a pretty low-priority issue. And there’s the challenge of feature creep: it would be nice if I could link each header to page that described the significance of the picture, had its licenses, etc. And that you could load up multiple pictures and enable/disable them individually for seasonal themes or special events. And… oh, dear.

Seacoast WordPress Developers meeting, 2-March-2011

Five people attended the March meeting of the Seacoast WordPress Developer‘s meetup, held at the New Hampshire innovation Commercialization Center near Pease in Portsmouth. We did a round of introductions and welcomed two new members and discussed what the group could focus on. We discussed the boundaries of CMS and Blogging and Wikis and how they overlap (A professional in education provided us with some great insights on how we think about some of these items), the challenge in finding consultants and clients, and how we can build up a network. We talked about potential agenda items: what should we schedule, what should we have in free-form.
I think an FAQ we ought to be prepared to answer is “What is it that WordPress is?” It’s less than obvious. “A blog” is the wrong answer, as that is a form of document, and not an application. “A CMS” is such a vaguely defined answer that it’s not much more useful than “an application.”

Other questions we started to explore, and possible future topics:

  • What is it that others are looking for on the web?
  • Good resources for learning WordPress: Codex, FAQ, books, etc.
  • WordPress SEO
  • WordPress Security
  • Loop/structure of databases tables, templates
  • Popular plugins
  • WordPress Backup tips: data and files
  • WordPress Community

Finally, Amanda presented her talk on building a plugin. She’d done some excellent research and used clear examples and explained them well. Here are the notes and slides posted to the new Seacoast WordPress Developer’s website, running WordPress, of course, and BuddyPress.

So, it was a great second meeting of the Seacoast WordPress Developer’s group. Stay tuned for more news. Thanks to Amanda for organizing the event, and to the New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center for providing the great facilities!

Notes from NH Ruby/Rails, 21-Feb-2011

Eight attendees made it to the February meeting of the New Hampshire Ruby Rails group at the New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center. A round of introductions included the usual suspects and several new people with interesting backgrounds and interests.

Brian Turnbull talked about Ruby debugging. He had a sample he created on Github Ruby comes with it’s own debugging library, but you can add a good one with a gem: ruby-debug.
Commands:
list – lists the code currently load
next – steps through the code listed, but skips over subroutines.
step – steps into the code
where – dumps the stack
finish – finishes the current subroutine call
display – dumps a value
(commonly use display value.inspect to make a cleaner display)
pp – pretty print, evaluates any Ruby code you want
edit – launches the EDITOR variable in our shell
catch – catch exceptions
cont – continue
break – set a breakpoint

,,, and so forth. Use the help, it is your friend.

The second example is far more complex, with a Sinatra app using OmniAuth and an LDAP provider. Following the supplied documentation, the app crashes on startup. (That’s what you get for reading the docs!) Debug and another tool – rbtrace to the rescue! Excellent demo of the problem and how the tools can debug them.

Seacoast WordPress Developers Group announce March meeting

Organizer Amanda Giles announced a second meeting of the Seacoast WordPress Developers Group:

When: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 7:00 PM
Where: NH-Innovation Commercialization Center, 75 Rochester Avenue, Portsmouth, NH 03801
Why: Let’s get together for another meetup. More details coming soon. Please send me your suggestions or ideas for things you would like to share or see shared.

CMS Learning Curves, artist unknown

CMS Learning Curves

Notes from NH Ruby/Rails, 17-Jan-2011: Brian Turnbull, OmniAuth, Nick Plante, Mirah

Seven members attended the New Hampshire Ruby / Rails group meeting held on 17-January-2011 at the New Hampshire Innovation Commercialization Center (NH-ICC). We had two presentations: Brian Turnbull talked about OmniAuth and Nick Plante showed a project he’s doing with Mirah on the Android platform.
Brian Turnbull is an engineer working for ARRIS and injects Ruby into his build tools whenever he gets the chance. A recent project required authentication against multiple providers and he did some research on OmniAuth. Brian presented a slideshow explaining the basic concepts of authentication and how they’re implemented in OmniAuth. Apparently, OmniAuth was the authentication method of choice during the most recent RailsRumble, used by most of the contestants. Brian outlined the process needed for working with an existing provider and demonstrated it with clear and simple code. He followed that up by showing how to build your own custom provider and authentication strategy. Brian’s sample code can be found on his github account.
Nick Plante has been working on an Android rich client app as part of a web-based social application that’s soon to launch. Nick told us that working on Java for Android has reinforced his love of Ruby. There’s not yet a good port of Ruby to the Android platform, but he has been impressed with the Mirah language, a hybrid solution that compiles to bytecode and runs natively on the JVM. He has developed a Ruby generator called protoform to construct the skeletons of a Mirah app. He gave us a tour of the components and built a simple “Hello, World” app, deployed and ran it on his Android VM.
Thanks to Brian for organizing the meeting and for the OmniAuth presentation, to Nick for talking about his Mirah project and to the NH-ICC for providing the fine facilities.

Notes from CentraLUG, 6-Dec-2010: David Berube, MySQL Operations

Six people attended the December 2010 meeting of the Central New Hampshire Linux Group, held at the NHTI‘s Library from 7 to 9 PM. David Berube was the featured speaker, talking about his experience with large scale high-performance MySQL applications.

David is an independent software developer and consultant. One of his larger projects over the past couple of years has been an application for scheduling actors for auditions. This involves agents and projects, auditions, roles, videos and a number of other entities in a complex and fast-moving application. He’s used Ruby on Rails, PHP, MySQL, a NOSQL database, Amazon S3, A rack of Mac Minis, BSD, Linux, and a number of other elements. He had some insightful things to say about the development process, managing a client project, handling difficult requirements, scaling up million-row databases for subsecond response times and more. It was a meeting well worth attending.

There were a lot of useful tools and reference sites mentioned, and I was only able to take note of a few: Useful Ruby add-ons: New Relic, Query Reviewer, Percona Operations Day, Cacti for data aggregation. An In-depth discussion of NoSQL (“Not Only SQL”) Databases: what are they, what are they good for, what are the liabilities? A good discussion of the trade-offs of using NoSQL, reference to the NHRuby presentation on Redis a few months ago, and more.

Thanks to David for an informative presentation, to the attendees for a dynamic interactive session, and to the NHTI Library for the facilities. Future meetings at the Concord location have been suspended, we encourage our regulars to attend the Manchester ManchLUG meetings. If you haven’t already, consider subscribing to the announcement list so you’ll know when there’s an upcoming meeting. (Subscribers to the discussion list will automatically receive the announcements, too.)

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