Friday, December 23, 2011

Using hogan.js with express on node.js

Thought i'd try getting twitter's hogan.js up and running with express... not as straight forward as i expected. Drawing upon this article on using mustache.js with express.js i created a simple adapter to help bridge functionality.

I would only use this while connect 3.x is in dev. After that i'd use TJ's consolidate.js cause i'm no TJ.

If you're looking for a full, working example, be sure to checkout a Nodestrap-- a repo i use as a project "prototype." It comes out of the box with better than average architecture, hogan-express templating, bootstrap 1.x. Its a good jumping off point.

Here's the adapter:

Here's an example of it in use:

In the views directory i have a index.hogan.js file-- that's the template.

It's worked for simple uses so far. I'll update if needs be.

HTML5 Videos via ffmpeg

Script for making html5 videos in ubuntu linux. I used these directions to get ffmpeg set up correctly.

Run like . myfile.avi

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Very Quick Look at d3.js

I finally got a chance to dig into d3.js today. From what i can tell, d3.js is an amazing dom/svg animation framework. To be honest, i have no idea how to describe it. There very well is much, much more under the hood than i'm aware of.

The jQuery-like Parts

d3.js is a lot like jQuery insofar as many of the operations are based upon items selected with CSS-selector style syntax. For example, d3.selectAll('div') probably looks fairly intuitive to anyone who has written jQuery before-- it grabs all divs on the page.

Another jQuery-esque thing about d3.js is that its API is chainable, so the following code:

obviously sets the width of all divs to 300, height to 400

d3.selectAll('div').on('click',function(){alert('hi!');});-- i bet you can already tell how events in d3.js work--exactly like (post 1.7) jQuery.

d3.js data()

One of the things that makes d3.js initially difficult to understand is the .data() function. Here's a code snippet that does a little explaining.

So the above script maps (hmmmm...) the data to the items it gets passed in order. So "hello" would be the innerHtml of the first div, "world" would be the content of the second... makes sense. The data that you pass in can be strings, numbers, object literals, anything. (Hmmm I wonder what you could do with functions...?)

What if you had 2 divs on the page, and the data() array had 3 items in it? How would it map that? Well, it would map the first 2 to the first 2 divs, neglecting the other piece of data. There is a way to work with that extra piece of data though--.enter().

d3.js enter()

.enter() allows you to do something with left over data. Here's an example:

So we were able to add extra divs on with .enter() in order to represent all the data that we passed into it.

Full Bleed d3.js example

Example: Animating SVG Circles on Mouseover

The really interesting stuff i see with d3.js involves the transition() function and SVG, which is supported in Chrome, Firefox, IE9, iOs, and Android(Honeycomb). Here's a script i wrote that draws circles in the DOM which move as soon as you hover over them.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Intention-Revealing Interfaces

Amazingly well put:

If a developer must consider the implementation of a component in order to use it, the value of encapsulation is lost. If someone other than the original developer must infer the purpose of an object or operation based onits implementation, that new developer may infer a purpose that the operation or class fulfills only by chance. If that was not the intent, the code may work for the moment, but the conceptual basis of the design will have been corrupted, and the two developers will be working at cross-purposes.

Domain Driven Design by Eric Evans, page 246

Working with Selections and Ranges in CKEditor

Working with ranges and selections in CKEditor is almost unbearable. In order to make it a bit easier, i recommend using rangy, a free library that makes the html selection/range api cross-browser-proof. Well, at least it made what i was trying to accomplish cross-browser...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Inlining in .NET

I spent some time today debugging a huge, huge function. I remember one of the quotes a professor of mine told me about function length. It might of been about class length, actually.

"Never write a function longer than your screen."

I think its a good rule. There's something to be said for being able to sum up a piece of code just by looking at it. Did you know that .NET does the same thing behind the scenes? And that it has trouble with huge functions?

Enter Inlining

From what i understand, back in the C++ days, programmers used to be able to specify what functions would be embedded into the calling function. The advantage was one less function that the execution would have to call--because on execution of a function "some stuff happens" that i'm not going to go into here. The point i'm trying to make is that if you didn't call that function, you wouldn't have to do "that stuff." So, instead of putting that piece of reusable code in every place they wanted it to go, they kept DRY and marked it to be inlined--for the compiler to manually place it in every place it was called.

.NET Inlines for You

It's true. .NET will inline your code for you during JIT if it deems it a good place to do so. But here's the catch: if you're writing functions that are miles long, there's no chance whatsoever that .NET can inline it and you'll never get the performance benefits of letting .NET upgrade your code.

Keep It Simple

Write functions that do one thing, really well. Make them reusable, testable pieces, and short enough that even .NET can sum them up...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Repository Pattern

I'm not sure if Martin Fowler conceptualized the repository pattern, but his book Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture (PoEAA) is where I first came across the definition:

"Mediates between the domain and data mapping layers using a collection-like interface for accessing domain objects."

He has very carefully selected his words. I have my own definition. Consider it the layman's version:

"Separates data from its source." 

Let's dig into an example.

The Repository Pattern in .NET

Every .NET programmer has written some sort of code that accesses a database or web service and returns something. Traditionally, the ever-present n-tier/three-tier philosophy dictates that the code for that should be in its own package/layer, the data access layer. What that philosophy does not dictate is the method signature and the return type; they're extremely important. Let's look at your traditional DAL:

What will the dev on this project do if the People DB gets outsourced and is now accessed via webservice? Convert the web service return into datasets, or change all the business layer classes to work with whatever the new return is? Or, what if they change to a db that doesnt easily convert into datasets? Not a great position to be in... Why not change it to something more generic that will never change?...

Here's a look at the repository pattern implementation:

Notice how this implementation could survive through any sort of data source change because it is using "a collection-like interface"? Much more maintainable.

The Repository Pattern in JavaScript

JavaScript's implementation would need to take into account the fact that AJAX requests (or all node.js functions) are meant to happen asynchronously. In order to allow for this, all we really need to do is implement the callback pattern, which really just boils down to passing an extra function.

That's it!