Archive - 2012


December 19th

Wandering in the desert of plenty: An architect in search of an application architecture

I need to adopt a javascript dev and deploy stack as framework for my new venture Linguathon. I'm delighted about this project because it brings together language teaching and web app worlds, something I've postponed for decades. So I need to adopt a javascript MV* framework to give me a solid, sound, yet flexible foundation. I have been studying Addy Osmani's Developing Backbone.js Applications (also see the fascinating work in progress mirror ), and "What we know now" (as Steve Blank is fond of saying... BTW I'm taking his free online lean startup course and reading his book; don't want to make all the same mistakes all over again :) ) is that I at least don't have the time or even the stupidity to build everything from scratch using a bare bones, self-made, untried and tested by the community dev and deploy stack.

Learning CoffeeScript (no, for historical reasons)

The task on Pivotal Tracker (love using it) says "Learn CoffeeScript". The project this chore forms a part of is really important to me, and while several important projects I am working on still deserve to be based on Drupal, others deserve a new kind of architecture, something wildly new and at the same time something going back to my roots (learning C with Kernighan and Ritchie's The C Programming Language enthralled with the hiding of detail overload prevalent in the Z80 and 8086 assembler languages I had been using) in the eighties (Turbo C...).

September 9th

Getting started with Meteor and Derby on your own server

This article explains some background concerning the holy grail of single language unified client/server web app development, and gives a practical hands-on look at two special kinds of frameworks that could be used to bootstrap a project.

June 23rd

Why I recommend Drupal User's Guide all the time

Here is my workspace these days:

And if I had just been delivered a site, or were setting out to roll my own with Drupal that little book there is just what I would have by my side:


Drupal User's Guide - Building and Administering a Successful Drupal-powered web site. By Emma Jane Hogbin.

Why do I recommend it to clients all the time? Because it totally lives up to what it says in the dedication page:

"For my mother, Maryann, who asked for the manual to her Web site."

That's just what it is, the manual to your website. It tells you how to install Drupal, it is a permanent guided tour of Drupal's administration interface, it teaches you that yes, you can build your own site based on (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) site goals. It shows you where to find your stuff, how to choose and enable different Drupal themes, how to build functionality like community site features, discussion areas, even a whole business directory. It is there when you need to add a form, take advantage of the Views module to list your stuff in many different ways, extend the functionality of your site with modules. And it is there when you need to do SEO work on your site, and even learn advanced techniques to improve the usability experience for site visitors.

I always recommend this book if any of the following apply:

  • If you're just starting out building your website in Drupal
  • You're not just starting out but you need that extra push
  • If you've just been delivered a site by a Drupal site builder and you want to take charge
  • If you need one great reference book to have on your desk as you work on your site

AWebFactory the making of (Part 2) Getting started with process, methods and tools

In my book Leveraging Drupal I set out to wed what have always been my career basing best software development process practices with Drupal site building and development. Chapter 1 (possibly the only part of the book not immediately obsolete the moment it was published in February, 2009), entitled “Keeping it Simple”, describes the process you can practice in order to squarely face the varied responsibilities of getting a web app up and running. It names the steps you can follow towards fulfilling that goal. It is still freely downloadable as an example chapter. We will use it to gear ourselves towards implementing a properly prioritized backlog of stories in order to revamp .

Now, we could just say, as is increasingly the fashion, “we use scrum”, or “we use agile” and even provide the obligatory life-cycle diagrams. But how do we actually get to that? In what context are we even operating? The only fair starting point for any target app is: Why build it at all?