Simon Willison’s Weblog


Sunday, 22nd January 2012

Do people still write and compile programs from the command line, instead of an IDE? Why or why not?

Being an expert with command line tools gives you super powers.

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Does Facebook’s iPhone app use a proprietary web rendering engine instead of UIWebView?

I did my first bit of iPhone development recently (building the first version of the Lanyrd iPhone app) and there was one thing that came as a huge surprise: the principle reason that people think native apps are “snappier” or “more responsive” than native ones has nothing to do with the rendering performance of a webview vs a native view (especially on the iPhone 4S which is extremely fast).

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Does version 1 of a startup always take much longer than expected?


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Do Python programmers have a tendency to write their own software instead of contributing? Why?

I think you’ll find that PROGRAMMERS have a tendency to develop their own thing rather than contributing to an existing project. It’s even got its own TLA: NIH (Not Invented Here).

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Where can I find great Java/Scala developers in London?

There are quite a few Scala events in London—here are the ones we know about at the moment:

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What are good ways to design a web application? Do you, for example, begin with a wire-frame of the front-end and work your way back to the database schema? The reverse? Figure out both ends and work towards the center?

I start with a working prototype, which I find I can often knock together in a couple of hours using Django. Having a functional (albeit buggy, ugly and insecure) prototype makes it much easier for me to start to reason about the larger application. There’s not much point in coming up with a comprehensive architecture plan only to find out you’re building the wrong thing!

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What (web) development platform has a low learning curve in terms of development, deployment, scalability, performance, and portability?

Sadly, none if them. Each of the things you list is almost a discipline in its own right, and there aren’t really any shortcuts—you just have to get stuck in and learn about them as and when they become a problem.

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2012 » January