Chris Webb

Front-end developer at Funda.

Read this first

Book of the Day: Functional JavaScript

Introduction

Functional JavaScript by Michael Fogus (O'Reilly Media) is a wonderfully insightful book. It introduces functional programming concepts and shows how they work within the context of JavaScript.

The book

JavaScript as a language supports functional programming but it’s quite possible to never use it in an intentionally functional way. In fact, many people practice an object-oriented programming approach instead. Functional JavaScript briefly explains the difference between an object-oriented approach and a functional approach to programming. Late in the book, there is also an exploration of how object-oriented programming and functional programming approaches can work together.

Rather than preach that there is only one right way to write JavaScript, Functional JavaScript broadens the toolkit that you have for solving problems with JavaScript. In fact, it teaches...

Continue reading →


Book of the Day: Discover Meteor

Book of the Day: Discover Meteor

by Tom Coleman & Sacha Greif

The Long Introduction

Back in June, I wrote a quick blurb about using Express.js and Node.js as a prototyping medium for web apps and data architecture. I quickly received a handful of tweets saying: “Yes, but why don’t you use Meteor?”.

My curiosity was piqued and as I had no experience with Meteor, I decided to do a little exploring.

Meteor is an ultra-simple environment for building modern websites. What once took weeks, even with the best tools, now takes hours with Meteor.

— Meteor Docs

The documentation is a great place to start. However learning a new framework through it’s docs is not always the quickest path for getting started. Not to mention that the challenge often increases proportionally to the youth of the framework because of the lack of readily available resources and...

Continue reading →


Book of the Day: Building Backbone Plugins

I haven’t seen much writing on the topic of extending Backbone which makes Building Backbone Plugins by Derick Bailey the only book of it’s kind that I’m aware of. As the title suggests, Building Backbone Plugins is most likely going to appeal to you if you’re part of a relatively specific audience: You already work with Backbone, JavaScript isn’t new to you, and you are ready to take the next steps with Backbone. Scalable application architecture, reduced boilerplate code and more efficient use of development efforts are likely to be things you’re thinking about.

The bottom line is that there’s a lot of great material in Building Backbone Plugins which makes it, along with the source code of projects like Backbone.Marionette and Chaplin, a treasure trove of knowledge for the Backbone developer concerned with application architecture and extending...

Continue reading →


Book Review: Advanced Express Web Application Development

Advanced Express Web Application Development written by Andrew Keig and published by PacktPub takes the reader on a journey through full-stack JavaScript development. The book walks through building a single page web application feature by feature with Express.js, a web application framework for node.

The Good

Advanced Express Web Application Development covers an impressive amount of ground. It offers a great look at the process of building a non-trivial single-page web application with Express. After covering basic setup, the book progresses quickly through testing, automation, building a web API, MongoDB, logging, building the client-side Backbone application, real-time communication with offline support using Socket.IO and Redis, authentication and security, acceptance testing, performance, scalability and best-practices.

The Bad

I would have really liked to see more context....

Continue reading →


iPad App Review: Kodiak JavaScript IDE

Kodiak JavaScript: The Perfect IDE for web developers for iPad was released this week. As someone who spends a disproportionate amount of my time in JavaScript, I’ve been very curious to see what the developers vision of an iPad JavaScript IDE would be. I’ve had a chance to play with it a bit and thought a review would be in order.

The great
First, the things I love about Kodiak:

  1. It comes bundled with nearly 60 JavaScript libraries and frameworks making it dead simple to link to one and start coding.
  2. It has a very capable, lightening fast preview browser integrated in. Want to see that lovely data visualization you just made with d3? Just tap the preview icon.
  3. It has a navigation key — a bit like a virtual trackball — which is very useful. I’d like if this extended to highlighting test the way that Textacular’s navigation system does.
  4. It has...

Continue reading →


Moving the web forward together

The process of how ideas become working features on the web is a mystery to most people and I suspect that most developers have the sense that they can actually influence that process. Over the past couple weeks a number of articles have appeared discussing the way forward in the open web. They share a core underlying ideal: web developers need the ability to extend the web with new features or in other words:

In order for the open web to compete with its walled competitors, there must be a clear path for good ideas by web developers to become part of the infrastructure of the web.
— The Extensible Web Manifesto

In The Extensible Web Manifesto, a number of important figures in the JavaScript community have committed to changing “how web standards committees create and prioritize new features”.

Yehuda Katz fleshes out the ideas of the manifesto in his post Extend the...

Continue reading →


Express.js and Node.js as a prototyping medium

Perhaps you already know this: Express.js and Node.js can be a powerful medium for rapid-prototyping. However, if you’ve never used either one, it may seem daunting to get started. Over the past week, I’ve stumbled across a number of useful articles related to using Express.js — ‘a minimal and flexible Node.js application framework’ that help take any edge off the learning curve. In the hopes that it’s useful, I thought I’d share the list in one place.

Evan Hahn has written an in-depth article — Understanding Express.js — exploring how Express.js actually works. In his words:

It helps you build web apps. If you’ve used Sinatra in the Ruby world, a lot of this will be familiar. It’s good magic… But all magic comes at a price: you might not understand the inner workings of Express.

After you read Understanding...

Continue reading →


Book of the Day: The Modern Web

The Modern Web: Multi-Device Web Development with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript by Peter Gasston is an ambitious achievement. It is a carefully curated compendium of some of the most compelling developments in web technologies placed in context of the multi-device landscape.

This book is about front-end web development in this new web-everywhere era. It’s about learning methods to make first-class websites, apps, or anything built on open web technologies, with the multi-device world aforethought.
This is not a book about how to make mobile websites or smart TV apps; it’s about learning the latest developments in current and near-future web technologies so you’ll be better able to build sites capable of offering the best experience everywhere.

— Peter Gasston

The Modern Web is packed with information. It starts with an introduction to the current landscape of devices and the...

Continue reading →


iPhone & iPad apps my workflow can’t live without

I’m relatively picky when it comes to iPhone apps and iPad apps. I’ve downloaded countless apps and rarely open them more than once before deleting them. Among the apps that don’t get quickly deleted there’s a small group that have made it into my daily or weekly flow for longer than a few days or weeks. These are the apps I ‘love’.

In the spirit of sharing a good thing, I’ve put together a list of the apps that have surprised me and become become an integral part of my regular routine along with what I love about them. Have a look and see if you find a gem worth trying.

TextExpander (iPad / iPhone & OSX)
I was interested in TextExpander for a long time before I finally decided to give it a try. I had a hard time seeing how I would use the mobile app so I started with the free demo for OSX. It only took a few days to realize I loved it and...

Continue reading →


Book Review: JavaScript testing with Jasmine by Evan Hahn

js-testing-with-jasmine.gif

JavaScript Testing with Jasmine is a new book written by Evan Hahn and published by O'Reilly that aims to:

…explain the concepts of testing and test-driven development, as well as why they’re useful… dive into Jasmine and explain how it can help programmers test their JavaScript code… give readers an understanding of Jasmine’s concepts and syntax.
— Evan Hahn

What’s Good

If you’re just getting started with Jasmine and want to save yourself some time researching and reading documentation and blog posts, JavaScript Testing With Jasmine is a concise read that will help take a bit of the pain out of understanding Jasmine.

Misses

I feel like there’s some missed opportunities with the book. It doesn’t seem to offer quite enough information either for a complete beginner or for a seasoned pro. For a novice in JavaScript or testing, it...

Continue reading →