October 9

Developing Responsive Web Applications with AJAX and jQuery Review

book cover

Book available for puchase at PacktPub.com

You can develop web applications in so many ways and this book teaches you how with the most popular front-end library, jQuery and AJAX. Initially I was excited to find out if it’s possible to build a responsive web application only with jQuery and Ajax, but you still need a back-end. In this case, the author uses Tomcat to run a java server as the back-end. You might be surprised that all the source code files are in the txt extension along with one war file. Then I realized uncompressing the war file will output all the proper files to open the website without some java-based IDE. A non-java developer might not be able to figure that out right away, so the book is definitely targeted for java developers who want to learn the front-end.

Even though it’s possible to open the source code locally into a browser, it won’t be fully functional without running Tomcat. As a front-end developer I have read through all the examples and they are coded well, including comments, to demonstrate getting data from 3rd party APIs such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Paypal. After having read through the book, it appears that more of the examples demonstrate usage of APIs rather than responsiveness. The early chapters do include details on responsive-making elements such as media queries, layouts, and the opera testing emulator, yet the author just uses Twitter Bootstrap for his app. I liked that the book includes good resources such as Draw.io and a few important CSS properties not seen in other books such as the text-overflow: ellipsis. Continue reading

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July 14

Building an Application with CoffeeScript Review

coffeescript course image

The intro of the video course states “familiarize yourself with CoffeeScript” and I did (course link http://bit.ly/1ix4XXb)  The other list items of learning in the description are also fairly accurate.  The “cake” built tool was demonstrated, using jQuery with coffeescript was demonstrated, built a simple framework was also demonstrated.  The inaccurate part of the description is the “Who is this video course for” which states “if you’re a beginner Javascript developer… this course is for you” …NOT!  Realistically it should be written as “if you’re a beginner coffeescript developer this course is for you”.  The usage of MVC concepts was great but it’s helpful if you’re already familiar with MVC.

After going through the course, I realized it is a good overview of coffeescript and how useful it could be, even though it’s not what I would call a “walkthrough” course.  It’s more of a class lecture where the professor describes the things you can do with coffeescript with a few examples then you get homework and have to figure it out on your own.

I was really excited at the beginning (section 1) watching the author use http://js2coffee.org to see the instant conversion of javascript.  It’s really fantastic how coffeescript applies good coding methods to develop your code.  This is also the part the author referred to the coffeescript’s documentation which is fine, but an actual demo would have been better.  I found the command line “cake” easy to understand but the author just types “cake -c filename” to show you the compiling but not telling you the “-c” option which I had look for in the documentation myself.

The template files are included so that’s helpful, but the coding speed in the video is too fast so don’t try to code along.  You will just have to open the corresponding chapter files when changing chapters.  The added benefit is some resources introduced in the video like the website where you can find any javascript library and a javascript library for generating PDF files.

To summarize this would have been an excellent course if it were double in length, walking you through the coding process, but instead it seems like a professor doing a typical lecture and expecting you to figure out the homework on your own. Get the course here!

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January 10

Responsive Web Design with jQuery Review


If you’re looking for a plethora of plugins, scripts, shims to add responsiveness this book is for you, but be prepared to figure out the differences yourself.  The book is written more like a reference book with short examples and brief explanation of many jQuery plugins.

I read the title several times after reading the content and can say that it is not the best fit.  My initial thinking led me to believe this would be more about coding with jQuery, however this is not the case.  The book is geared more for web designers that do not code with jQuery.  Most of the examples include jQuery with little explanation so you can get similar information available in the documentation of the individual plugins.  Possibly the worst part is that the author rarely distinguishes pros and cons of individual plugins doing nearly identical tasks.  There’s a lack of diagrams and screenshots so you have to implement the examples to see how they work.  On the other hand the author also lists many tools available via websites for wire-framing, placeholder creation, pixel conversions, and grid systems.

I would recommend this book for web designers that know html, css, jquery syntax and want to make their static designs responsive, elastic, or fluid with high browser compatibility.  Without knowledge of jQuery basics it’s difficult to customize the plugins made for responsive design.  Near the end of the book there is mention of performance and ideally you want the minimum amount of http GETS to load your scripts.  However with all the plugins available your design will easily accumulate 7+ js files.

You won’t become an expert in “responsive design” nor will you know how the plugins really work behind the scenes, but it’s a good place to start.

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August 27

Javascript Fluent Confrence 2013 Review

Javascript Fluent Conference

Overall this video collection of Fluent Conference is a great value with a few useless presentations sprinkled in. The good thing is that you can skip the videos that seem to be useless and this mainly applies to the sessions. If you were to be at the conference, then you would have lost time attending them. Before I mention ones that you should avoid, I will mention the noteworthy presentations. This is mostly the tutorials. It took me a few weeks, but I ended watching all the videos.

Here’s my breakdown by sections:
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July 16

Present Yourself Book Review

Present Yourself cover

Authors: Kit Seeborg, Andrea Meyer

This is a book mostly about the web service Slide Share, partly about marketing yourself or business, and a bit about making slides. You can summarize it as “make slides to get leads for your business”. The book includes several case-studies but lacks specific metrics. Some sources for proof would be great, although that’s a rarity in non-scientific books.  I can recommend this to marketers and entrepreneurs however you would want to delegate slideshare tasks to a social media evangelist.

The beginning provides a good foundation of presentations and starts about defining visual data. This is key because communication is important to share your idea and mind-mapping is very essential.

The second chapter is entirely how to use Slideshare.net including how to setup your account, customizing your profile, and the features available. It is a manual or guidebook for the Slide Share service at this point. On page 33, the note on figure 2-19 displaying analytics, states it shows “actionable data”, however that is false because it’s not really actionable. You can only view it and not perform any actions with it. References could be made linking other parts of the book to show the benefits of each feature. There’s nothing contrasting why you should upload a YouTube video versus a slideshow.

Chapter 3 is better because it explains public speaking and how to use Slideshare for events. It is a more practical approach describing how to share your presentation online to reach a wider audience integrating it with social media. It also differentiates the type of events and presentations you could make.

Chapter 4 is mainly about marketing by story-telling and research to get the best content. It suggests to curate your content to stand out from the competition which is the same as doing a metasearch and compiling the content you like. Two more tools are mentioned here (Scoop.it and Pintrest) to spread the word about your slideshow.

Reading Chapter 5, on page 92, there is no reference to the provided quote from Inside View so it is difficult to believe that claim. The chapter describes how to add call-to-actions to every slideshow and how to track leads with the PRO account. This is also the chapter the has tips on making more compelling slides.

Chapter 6 on research doesn’t provide enough details to be helpful any differently than a search engine can do. It actually suggests another software tool Zipcast.

The remainder of the book reiterates more of the previous concepts but in a different manner. It focuses more about organizations instead of the individual.

I’ve heard about Slideshare before and uploaded one slideshow months ago expecting to get leads, but it barely got any views so your results may vary.

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July 10

Web Server Operations Review

web operations

This is a review of the Web Operations Fundamentals video on O’Reilly.

I was interested to watch this video to learn the scope of web operations and compare that with my current knowledge. Overall it is a good introduction to how the internet communicates from browser to server along with network communication via command line. The video and audio quality are excellent. It starts off with non-technical terms and descriptions of operations therefore a wide audience can understand it. However, the presentation gets technical quickly so that it assumes the viewer has general knowledge of networking. Also the MySQL section seems out of scope and should be for database administrators.

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June 15

Javascript Enlightenment Review

javascript enlightenment

This book is a good read for understanding javascript coding syntax, prototyping, scope, and closure.   Although brief and repetitive after Chapter 8, it clarifies several aspects of the language.  If you’re an intermediate to advance javascript developer, this book many not be useful to you.  The most important thing is javascript’s flexibility.  You only use primitives and objects; javascript uses wrappers automatically when needed.  The other parts are comparing, contrasting methods, instantiation, closure, scope, hoisting.  The author describes what matters is the way properties are accessed, mainly if using reserved keywords such as “class”.

The problem with NULLS (see example below):

[code]var myNull = null;
console.log(typeof myNull); // outputs ‘object’ NOT null[/code]

// Use === when comparing null or undefined, because == will not work.

[code]Foo.prototype.x = 1;
var FooInstance = new Foo();
console.log(FooInstance.x); // outputs 1
// now let’s replace/override the prototype object with a new Object() object
Foo.prototype = {x:2};
console.log(FooInstance.x) // outputs 1 not 2[/code]

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