Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Writing a web app

Recently I have started writing a web app, which I was trying to build for a long time. This time I am much more closer to completion than ever before, and I feel I can easily complete it.
I want to think about why I couldn't do this for a long time, and why I have done a large part of it in a couple of weekends. Possible reasons coming to my mind are:

  • I was misguided by many blog posts
  • I made my first attempt using PHP, just because I knew the language
  • I was focusing on the wrong part of the app
  • My day job and my life in India was draining out all of my energy
  • I was trying to do too many things and not doing most of them
I'll know better when I actually get to launching the first version of the app. So far, here are my learnings:
  • Prefer podcasts over blog posts, if you have learn from the net
  • Put highest preference to books - buy them or loan them from a library - they are worth every penny
  • Start your prototype as a front-end app, using html and javascript. Use jquery extensively.
  • Use a Javascript array as your database, to begin with. It will be good enough for most prototypes.
  • If you are stuck, stop and read a book or discuss with someone
  • Don't start with any app framework - you don't know what you need.
I'll stop here and resume when I have made more progress

Friday, October 28, 2016

My Javascript workflow

So I am trying out my hand in JavaScript, and want to talk about my workflows. I have two development setups - one on a cloud VM which is a DigitalOcean droplet, and the other is my laptop which happens to run Windows (since it is provided by my office).

On the cloud machine development is super easy. I connect to it using putty from Windows, and write my code using emacs, and run a python server (python -m SimpleHTTPServer) in another shell. I run both these shells inside a screen session which I keep alive, and detach when I logout. I can view pages served by the web server on my local machine's web browser by going to my VM's IP address and using the port 8000 which is what the python module uses by default.

On my Windows laptop it seems things are not that hard. I write my code using Notepad++ or Brackets, and run a node server (http-server.cmd) from the Windows PowerShell. I can view the web pages on my web browser by going to http://lopcalhost:8080 as 8080 is the port used by the node.js module. The Windows port of node.js looks pretty good, which means a lot of web development can be done on PCs now. How do I use git? Well github has a Windows desktop client which makes development in github repositories a breeze!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Poster inspired by podcast on abstractions

I am being mindblown by the world of podcasts, and programming podcasts in particular. Today I heard this episode of "this developer's life" where there was a nice quote at the end. I decided to make a poster out of it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Revisiting Javascript

Javascript was the first programming language I learnt, back in 2001, about to leave high school. In college I somehow 'learnt' that these were not real programming languages. The real languages were C, C++, Java and the like. I gradually drifted towards C++, and then worked in C and C++ for a decade in the industry.

Now I am stumbling upon one thing after the other about Javascript which makes me think - god why didn't any of the tutorials tell me all this back in 2001! Specially about the bits of functional programming possible in Javascript - and how you can quickly built complex programs with it.

I just want to list down the nice things I've encountered in the past few days:
1. A blog about how to write a programming language in Javascript
2. Marijn Haverbeke's book 'Eloquent Javascript'
3. A talk from EmpireJS on Knitting in Javascript
4. A 30-line implementation of a simple spreadsheet in Javascript
5. A blog post about variable scoping in Javascript

The language is confused and allows multiple paradigms - but so is C++. The best thing about Javascript is that it is much easier to use functional programming techniques in it. And the even better thing is that most devices/platforms seem to be supporting it. I am tending to believe that the bigger things of the future will be built upon powerful programming languages or systems. I am gradually moving away from the importance of building faster low-level programming systems.