Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Cursory Glance at the New

Being a web guy it is my unofficial duty to snoop around the new site to see what info I can gather.

A simple peak at the HTTP headers reveals the following
- Webtrends
- Asp.NET Version 2.0.50727, Microsoft-IIS/6.0

Yuck and yucker? I've only heard bad things about Webtrends, but maybe the WH had an existing contract. As for, pretty surprising given that was in Php.

Browsing the html and js I see properly indented tags and only moderately well-named css class names. Div-based layout is definitely everywhere, but that's pretty much a common expectation these days.

A major plus goes to the team for using JQuery and a bunch of plugins, such as Carousel, Cycle, and Galleria. They also do a bunch of custom stuff in their plugins file which I don't have time to fully grok.

A major minus goes to their email validation. I tried to sign up my email for email updates, but it looks like their email box isn't accepting RFC2822 valid emails, failing on a + character in the local-part. The casing of the validation function makes me thing it's a stock Aspx validation rejecting the format. Boo++!

Other than that, interesting overall to see my new government get all high tech. I expect great things from in the future :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What is it about Processing that I love so much?

Remember the early days of the web when people like the bit101 guywould wow us with some dots that would bounce up and down? We all thought Flash was the bee-knees, the cat's meow, until everyone got bored of the same ole faux gravity and wavy line experiements.

If there's one guy that really keeps that feeling alive for me, it's Robert Hodgin fromFlight404. Apparently Processing has quietly finally come out of Beta and as if to commemorate the event, one of Casey Reas published an interview with the man here.

Go check it out, be inspired, and wow and whatnot. It's nice to get the feeling of wonder once in a while.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

When Did ZK Learn How to Awesome?

Checking out a post by Charles over at Flex888, I was prepared to laugh again at ZK's historically clunky JS performance and experience.

Instead it's grown up.

Awkward bumps in hiding, showing, and simply using have been replaced with graceful transitions typically seen in raw usage of libraries like JQuery/MooTools and the like.

Having battled Richfaces lately on a product I'm almost at the point to ditch it for something streamlined and reliable.

I used to think of ZK as a poor alternative to Echo, but these days I'm pretty convinced it's worth a second glance if you're looking for one platform to do everything.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Design Eye for the Backend Guy

Stefano Mazzocchi has published an awesome summary of everything a clueless front-end guy should be looking at. Key features are modern CSS design, color pickers, JS-based ui correction, font stuff, the whole nine yards. Basically the entire article is essential.

If you are that stubborn programmer that doesn't know anything about front-end and needs a modern guide to getting it done, this is for you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Simple JQuery UID Plugin

UID's can be tricky to make, but here's a simple one for discussion.

I'm posting this to see if anyone can make it a little safer to prevent collisions and/or improve the algorithm. Any thoughts? The prefix allow you to create uids you can select with a prefix on. The random string will give you a fairly large but not unmanageable string. We'll also return the JQuery instance so we can continue our chain.

$.fn.uid = function(prefix) {
if (!prefix) {
prefix = "uid";
var generate = function() {
var dt = new Date().getMilliseconds();
var num = Math.random();
var rnd = Math.round(num*100000);
return prefix+dt+rnd;
return this.each(function() { = generate();
return $;

$().ready(function() {

Oui? Non?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How do the Javascript frameworks do it?

Let's take a second and appreciate just how much work must go into building a popular open source JS toolkit.

Even though the domain of the problem is only JS and HTML/CSS the picture isn't as clear as you may think! Besides the technology list you also have to take into account operating system and browsers because, yes, the same browser will behave differently on different operating systems.

In addition to that, we have to also consider doctypes as they change browser rendering, and the toolkit must behave as identical as possible despite different rendering schemes.

So, as an example of the total cost of a single change as of today, September of 2008, it looks like you will have to test (assuming only major browsers and os's):

Windows: IE6, IE7, IE8, FF2, FF3, Chrome 1, Safari 3, Opera 9
MacOSX: FF2, FF3, Opera 9, Safari 3
Linux: FF2, FF3, Opera 9, Konqueror

Sixteen major browser/operating system configurations.

Not done yet:
16 configurations * 6 or so major doctypes (html/xhtml+xhtmldtd with strict/transitional and frameset versions): you end up with

~100 major variations to test after a change.

Yikes you say. Instead of rolling my own components I think I'll just choose a major js toolkit, a widely supported doctype, and learn that!

Smart choice! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Netbeans, netbeans, netbeans.

Why is it that any time I get near some Sun-sponsored technology I end up on some crappy link marginally related to what want to check out I but mostly focused on Netbeans?.

Holy crap; move on people.

I'm not going to change editors on a dime because Sun is freaked out over SWT and wants people to be using Swing. This isn't a slam against Swing: I've seen some great interfaces built with it. It's just shameful that every new api or specification from them is presented through the Netbeans lens.

Netbeans might have come a long way since I tried it years ago and that's great, but these days I'm really more concerned with wiring things and getting stuff done rather than than choosing how I'm going to develop my code; I just don't care enough to review it, and I know Eclipse gives me the productivity I need to get the job done quickly and correctly. Moreover, I'm CERTAINLY not going to learn it for one quick start app deployment.

If Netbeans really was that great they would present the Netbeans option AND the Eclipse option just to show how much more productive you are with Netbeans.

You know, I'm posting this rant and I just remembered that Kirill (of Swing fame) just posted something similar a year or so ago. Funny how times don't change.