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"Get Involved: JavaScript and Single Page Apps" presentation slides

Slides from a presentation I gave for the December 2013 JavaScript and Single Page Web Apps meetup, at HackerLab in Sacramento, California.

18 December, 2013

Backbone.js IS opinionated, or why is using nested models and collections in Backbone so hard?

Background
So after diving into the subject of nested models/collections in Backbone.js and being very frustrated at how Backbone doesn't handle them, I eventually discovered a comment by Backbone.js creator, Jeremy Ashkenas on GitHub:

4 October, 2013

Drupal 8 architecture decisions: standing on the shoulders of giants.

Until recently I've been less than enthusiastic about Drupal 8, but I've changed my tune (and of course nothing is perfect; I am still a bit concerned/sad that Drupal 8 could possibly be leaving some smaller sites behind, but this is a ship that has likely sailed, so c'est la vie).

11 September, 2013

Introducing ScrapeGrid


Grab snippets from multiple webpages and assemble, save, and load them all in a customized display grid.

Many of us have a handful of pages we revisit many times throughout a single day. What if instead of needing many separate tabs for all your pages, you could grab just the part you actually focus on for each page and then display all these different focal points from all these different pages in a single tab? This is exactly what ScrapeGrid does.

Works in your browser. No plugins. Coming soon.

Watch the preview and sign up for news and updates.

12 August, 2013

Build your own JavaScript framework

I've happily reached a significant milestone in the development of my project, finishing a foundational layer that by itself could be valid to open source at some point.

Also:

  • In my last post I explained my reasons for passing on the current crop of JavaScript frameworks. This is a decision that I've been extremely pleased with, as I've managed to conceive/implement my own MVC/MVVM pattern for the project and the endeavor has pushed me much further into my JavaScript education.
  • I have refactored the codebase from using 100% jQuery to about 80% raw JavaScript to 20% jQuery. It is nice to be able to know how to step outside of jQuery and/or deepen one's appreciation for what jQuery is doing under the hood. Also, if you've spent any time on jsperf.com at all you probably know that jQuery is much slower than raw JavaScript for many things. When building an almost-entirely client-side app, speed starts to matter much more than when you have just a couple jQuery snippets on a page, and I want this app to be whip quick. It was a little ackward getting started with plain JS, but once underway I caught the hang of it fairly quickly, and the end result I'm definitely happy with.
  • Currently, I am using localStorage for my data store, and it's been working great for development purposes - it's basically a mock mongoDB for me (I'm storing nested objects in localStorage using a small jQuery library called jStorage). I'm purposely putting off the server side of this application because I want to be able to use the Symfony 2.3 LTS release, which is scheduled for May as middleware between the client-side and mongoDB. The temptation to use node.js is strong, and arguably would be the most performant option, but the reasons for picking Symfony are probably obvious to any Drupal developer.
  • Finally, don't forget - if you are using regex to parse the DOM, you're doing it brain-meltingly wrong!

Cheers all, I'm off to DrupalCamp Sacramento for the weekend.

13 April, 2013

Javascript Framework Redux

Published in: 

Part II in a series of articles about an online web application I am working on. Read Part I

I'm am currently in the process of making my own web service, which will have a single-page-app (SPA) type of structure/interface. This is exactly the type of project that the bevy of JavaScript frameworks like Backbone.js, Angularjs, Ember.js, Knockout.js, and Meteor are build for, thus I've taken it for granted that I would use one of these frameworks as the client-side infrastructure for my app. After much review and fiddling around it turns out that I will not be using one of them. At least not for now. Below are some of reasons why (note these reasons may not apply to you, you may rightly decide that a Javascript framework is a great choice for your project(s) - these are one person's opinions only):

Using any of the frameworks requires more commitment from my code base than I want to give right now

One of my biggest surprises/disappointments after spending a lot of time with Backbone.js and Angularjs was realizing that my (imho) perfectly awesome JavaScript/jQuery foundation layer, which I just slaved over creating, would not only have to be modified - it would have to be thrown out the window. This is because none of these frameworks are a container for your JavaScript - they are a replacement for it. Sure you might use a little bit of JavaScript/jQuery within any one of the frameworks, but overall you'll be doing-Backbone, or doing-Angular, or doing-Ember, or whatever. It's even common advice for Angular experts to tell newbies to not use jQuery at all while they are getting started, so that they can learn the 'Angular way'. Thanks, but no thanks.

I don't want to abandon my universally usable and performant JavaScript/jQuery that I can take and integrate easily into almost anything (well almost anything but these frameworks, apparently). Maybe in the future as one of the JS frameworks becomes more mature and dominant I will reconsider. Honestly, I think a platform would have be as ubiquitous as jQuery has grown to be, for me to volunteer myself for platform lock-in on the level these frameworks require now.

I want to continue building my expertise in JavaScript/jQuery themselves and don't want to have it abstracted away from me

This is a big one for me. I can do what needs to be done with JavaScript, even reasonably well on a case by case basis. But I want to really master it. I don't want to just know Angular, or Backbone. I want to come up with solutions for the real-world, big-picture DOM/JS obstacles that I run into, presumably like the makers of the Javascript frameworks did. I want to eventually have the knowledge that I *could* make my own framework. And at that point, even if I decide to use someone else's framework I will have much more appreciation for my choice, and I will have more knowledge for how to leverage it.

Who are the frameworks a good choice for?

Don't get me wrong I am really glad I spent the time I did looking into Backbone.js and Angularjs (I actually looked at others, but I spent the most time with Backbone and Angular). They are demystified for me now, and there are a lot of good bits, patterns, and big-picture issues that I'm more informed about now than I was previously. I can easily imagine that someone who isn't a JavaScript expert and who just wants to commit to learning the idiosyncrasies of one of the frameworks can build some really great stuff. I can also imagine that true JavaScript masters might be taking their knowledge and one of these frameworks to bring their projects to an even higher level of organization and efficiency (though I'd actually be interested in hearing from the John Resigs of the world regarding their thoughts on current framework implementations).

1 April, 2013

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