Red Squirrel Reflections
Dave Hoover explores the psychology of software development

Dave Hoover

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Old Archives


Wed, 29 Mar 2006

Google puts Canvas on IE: The Game Changer

Update: ExplorerCanvas is the official project name.

Master Canvas hacker Benjamin Joffe announced something on the canvas developers group yesterday that, in my humble opinion, is a game changer. Google is putting canvas on Internet Explorer. Benjamin received a pre-release version of a Javascript library (soon to be officially released on that, when included on a page with canvas, allows the downtrodden Internet Explorer users of the world to step into the wonderful world of canvas. Emil started this work and it looks like Google is finishing it.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out the implications of Google's work on this ... look out world!

Here are a few examples that are using Google's canvas library:

[/projects/ajaxtrains] permanent link

Fri, 24 Mar 2006

Using Rails as Javascript Scaffolding

I'm working on something that I'm not talking about yet, but I can say it's a Rails app. I'm likely a bit behind the times, but I thought I'd mention a habit emerging in my Rails/Ajax development that I haven't read about in any of the blogs I follow.

After I started playing with Behaviour, I grew to appreciate keeping my markup free of Javascript. At the same time, I enjoy using Rails JavaScriptHelper methods to do the dirty work for me. So what I end up doing is writing the Rails code and get everything working the way I want it. Then I view source in my browser, copy the Rails-generated HTML and Javascript and paste over the Rails code in my template. Then I'm free to separate everything into the appropriate places. Styles can get pulled up into a CSS file, onFoo methods can get extracted into Behaviours, and HTML elements can be formatted and identified the way I want. I just went through this routine with the marvelous autocomplete and it worked like a charm.

It feels so right, I wonder if it's wrong. I suppose I'm making my code more susceptible to breaking with future Rails/Scriptaculous upgrades. But it also feels like a smaller incarnation of the Rails scaffolding philosophy. So I'm wondering if I'm just doing something many others have silently practiced before me or if I'm violating an unspoken rule of Rails development.

[/projects/beratings] permanent link

Fri, 17 Mar 2006

Selenium at RailsConf

My Selenium on Rails proposal was accepted for RailsConf 2006. Attendees can look forward to practical examples of all types of Selenium tests extracted from Real Life Project(s). You can also look forward to no slides, just code. See you in June!

[/projects/selenium] permanent link

Mon, 06 Mar 2006

Luck on Ruby and IDEs

So David (I'm not going to refer to him by his initials since they were mine first) poked fun at how insanely repetitive Java code can be with type declarations, variable names, casting, and getters all repeating the same phrase. You know, like UploadedFile uploadedFile = (UploadedFile) fileUpload1.getUploadedFile(); My colleague Greg Luck shot back with the standard "Java IDEs rule and Ruby needs one". Greg showed how he could use IDEA to produce 77 characters of code in 21 keystrokes. That's great and I use those same keystrokes nearly every day that I write Java code (which is starting to become slightly less frequent). But imagine you're coming at Java and Ruby as a newbie (I think from that perspective a lot these days). It's great to know that I could write Java that quickly, but first I'm going to have to internalize all of those proprietary keystroke combinations. I think I'd rather just type file = file_upload.file in 23 keystrokes and move on. Even if you have internalized the powerful IDEA shortcuts, there is a (diminishing but everpresent) psychological cost in having to translate what you want to say through a tool that says it for you as opposed to just saying it yourself.

As I said a while back, I agree that Java IDEs do rule and I also agree that Ruby would benefit from a high powered IDE like IDEA. But I also agree to some extent with Dave Thomas that Java needs an IDE because it is so verbose, while Ruby doesn't because one can do so much with so little. That said, automated refactoring support is something that I need in any language I work in because I never get things right the first time. For instance, I went through some severe pain this weekend when I renamed one of my core Rails models. I'm still waiting and hoping for a Ruby refactoring browser, and until then I'd still rather type p-u-t-s-<space>-"-f-o-o-" than p-s-v-m-<tab>-s-o-u-t-<tab>-f-o-o because I'd rather write in Ruby than tell IDEA how to generate Java.

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