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Showing posts from May, 2012

HTML Canvas Libraries

So I was remarking to a coworker today that the HTML Canvas API is very low level and hard to use, and his reaction to that was actually positive (and he had a point). By being very low level, it means that pretty much everything is exposed and going forward you won't have to wait for browser vendors to update their libraries in order to get the latest features. Basically, the browser vendors are removing themselves from the equation.

However, application developers are left with a bit of a dilemma. Do we really want to reinvent the wheel every time we build an app? Why is it that you have to redraw everything every frame? Wouldn't it be easier to work with objects rather than pushing pixels?

Well, while the browser vendors might have removed themselves from the library equation, fortunately a number of other people are stepping in. It looks like there are a myriad of 3rd party libraries out there now for manipulating the HTML 5 Canvas, some of which are more sophisticated tha…

Working on a side project

There are many pluses when working on a side project. You get to work with the latest technology. You get to decide what features go in and what doesn't. You can show it off to potential employers. The list is endless. However there are some tips to remember as well. We will cover these here.

Time management Unless you are unemployed, your time is now a precious resource, which means that you are now a resource to your own project. Try and organize blocks of time during the week when you can work (i.e. a few hours on Saturday or an hour on Thursday night) and stick to them. Try to break up your work into small chunks and aim to have a feature done in that block. This will help motivate you.
Feature Management Related to time management, it's important to maintain a list of what you want to do and be able to check items off this list. Ask friends for feature ideas and add them to the list. Save anything that's a large feature for the weekend and try and do the smaller featu…

For whom do you write code?

Ok, this was going to be called "Who do you write code for?" but I was told never to end a sentence with a preposition.

Anyways, I was thinking the other day about who the audience is for the code I write and I came up with the following. Bear in mind I live by the principles of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and YAGNI (You Ain't Gonna Need It). I developed these attitudes after reading tons of other people's code (as well as my own code 6-12 months down the line.

So in descending order...

1. The User Obviously you are writing code for someone to use (or a service to consume). I am not going to go into UX or HCI at this stage, just that as far as priority goes, this guy is the top. Make sure the user gets good and timely feedback for everything he does and that the steps he has to take make sense to him.

2. The Compiler/Interpreter The code you write has to be compiled or interpreted by a computer before the user can use it. Don't worry too much about optimi…

Speeding up RSpec

So today I have been looking into getting our enormous battery of tests to run faster. I have yet to find anything that works for Cucumber, but I did find an interesting way to speed up RSpec which is detailed here.

https://makandracards.com/makandra/950-speed-up-rspec-by-deferring-garbage-collection

Basically, it seems that by not collecting garbage too frequently, you can make your tests run much faster (at the expense of memory management of course). We observed a 30% reduction in the time it takes to run an RSpec test suite.

I did try to implement this on Cucumber, however because we need to store much more in memory to set up and tear down our objects, it meant that I kept running out of memory when I wasn't using the default Garbage Collection and the tests took even longer (so, buyer beware). I suppose if you had a small set of features though you might see some benefit.