Simon Willison’s Weblog

Items tagged webdevelopment, quora

Filters: webdevelopment × quora ×


Why did Facebook remove their hamburger navigation and go back to docked tabs in their mobile app?

Probably because the swipe-to-see-menu gesture conflicts with the iOS 7 standard swipe-to-go-back gesture.

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If you’re starting a website as a product, what are the important things to consider for the domain and how important are they? Ex: effect of being .com, .net or .io etc., and is it okay to have a hyphen in the name?

Get the .com. If you don’t, you’ll find that a surprisingly large number of press mentions etc will link to the wrong place—and you may end up having to pay a fortune later to buy the .com from a domain squatter (the price goes way up once your site starts to gain traction).

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Who would like to help set up a Wordpress site that is event focused?

Eventbrite (my employer) recently worked with WordPress.com to provide an integration between the two services which you may find relevant—it makes it very easy to set up a WordPress.com hosted site which ties in to the Eventbrite API to promote and enable ticket sales: WordPress.com Integrations for Eventbrite

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How can one become a masterful Rails developer (and still have a life)?

Don’t sacrifice your social life. Sacrifice TV.

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For a Django application, deployed on Heroku, what are my options for storing user-uploaded media files?

S3 is really a no-brainer for this, it’s extremely inexpensive, very easy to integrate with and unbelievably reliable. It’s so cheap that it will be practically free for testing purposes (expect to spend pennies a month on it).

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Is it possible for anybody to be expert in all areas of software development, that includes database, backend, web frontend, mobile apps, and graphic design?

It isn’t possible for someone to be expert in “all” aspects of software development—that would include everything from writing safety critical control systems for nuclear power plants in Fortran to high frequency trading algorithms on Wall Street. The world of software development is simply too big for that now.

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Using userstream to listen to events for each user doesn’t seem practicable for an application with thousands of users.

Sounds like you need Site streams: https://dev.twitter.com/docs/str...

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What are some strategies for scaling sites & infrastructure so global response times are relatively close to US response times?

You need to run your application in multiple data centers around the world, partitioned such that an incoming HTTP request can be completely serviced by a single data center. Then you use global DNS load balancing to direct users to the data center that is closest to them.

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What is the best framework to use, Yii or Ruby on Rails?

This is a big decision, and it’s worth taking the time to pick what’s the best fit for you. I recommend going through the tutorials for each one, building the basic application they describe and seeing which made the most sense to you. As a Django developer, I suggest trying that framework too :)

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Is it worth it for an aspiring web developer in NYC to attend the San Francisco Startup Jobs Fair in November? What I mean is what are my chances that a company would be interested in me, allowing that my code skills are up to snuff, if I don’t live ...

Not being in SF already is no problem at all—demand for talented developers is crazy high, so provided you are a great developer the fact you would need to relocate won’t be a barrier.

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What is the most succinct definition of a JavaScript callback, being more elaborative than simply “A function that calls another function.”?

A way of saying “once you’ve finished doing this, do that”.

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How can I get access to the PHP script of websites like Dropbox?

If a website doesn’t deliberately publish its server-side code (some sites like reddit do this, but it’s pretty rare) then you won’t be able to see it. You can search for an open source clone but these will often be pretty low quality—the smartest open source developers tend to work on libraries that solve common problems rather than putting their efforts in to building complete clones of existing sites.

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What are the best ways to get traffic to my SAAS project management app?

At your stage you won’t be able to get meaningful paying customers from regular web traffic. You need to be building up your customer base manually, one at a time, through a high touch sales process.

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What is the best service for web hosting and buying a domain? Is it better to have both under one provider?

No, it’s not better to have both under the same provider. Good web hosts do not necessarily make good DNS hosts and vice versa.

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Should you start with planning the view, the model or the controller?

My preference is to start by designing the URLs, then roughing out the first version of the database models. Everything else tends to evolve from there.

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How does a career progresses for a web developer?

A web developer is a software developer, so you should look in to how software development careers work.

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What are some techniques, workflows, thought-processes etc. you would do as an experienced web-developer (front-end/back-end) that a new web developer might benefit from?

Learn the Chrome Developer Tools inside out, and live in them—especially the interactive JavaScript console, which can be a huge boon to your productivity.

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Should a beginner to web development start out with Node.Js?

Maybe. One of the things I like about Node.js is that the raw abstraction it provides over HTTP is much closer to how the actual protocol works than the abstractions provided many of the more widely used frameworks such as PHP, Django or Rails. That might actually make it an effective learning tool—I’d be interested in hearing from some web developers who learnt Node.js as their first server-side technology.

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Which tools top technology companies use to create complex web pages e.g Amazon Home Page, Facebook etc? Do they create it manually or use some tool like Dreamweaver ?

The code (HTML/CSS/JavaScript) will be written by hand, usually by a large team of people who have evolved it over several years. They’ll be working with some kind of server-side technology as well, usually involving a templating language.

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How can you run image processing in cloud code (Parse) ? If parse is not the best

There are dozens of web-based image resizing APIs that could help with this. Check out http://www.imgix.com/ for example.

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Is there a way for a user of a site (no database) to add their own notes to a webpage, so when they return (regardless of the device), their notes are shown?

There have been plenty of attempts at building web annotation systems like this in the past—I actually built one for my final year university project a decade ago—but they all suffer from the same problem: web pages change, and once they have changed the annotations may no longer be attached to the right place in the document.

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What are good ways to rewrite a social network and still keep old users?

Don’t rewrite. If you’re going for a major overhaul, do it in as many small steps as possible. Massive rewrites are a great way to completely kill all forward motion on your product.

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How long should I budget for an experienced designer to design a responsive ecommerce store?

There’s no single answer to this—it depends on the scope of the project. A one-page store selling 3 items is quicker to design than a thousand page store with dozens of category homepages etc.

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How are you gonna solve when the user has a gender issue?

Don’t ask for gender at all, or if you do make the field optional or provide a text field that the user can put anything they like in.

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Can I pitch my app idea to google?

You could pitch it to Google Ventures, but you’ll need a lot more than just the idea.

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Are there any alternatives to CGI for web servers?

Yes. CGI stopped being relevant around the turn if the century! Many languages can be embedded in web servers now (mod_php, mod_python, mod_perl for Apache etc), there’s the FastCGI protocol which allows web servers to communicate with external processes without needing to start a brand new process for every request, and it’s also common these days to run an HTTP server written in the same language as your application and proxy requests to it—Unicorn, gunicorn, Jetty are all examples of this.

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What are the different ways in which web sites can be developed?

There are a few languages that provide an alternative syntax that compiles to HTML (Haml is quite a popular one) but generally you need to have a very good understanding of HTML in order to do any web development at all, no matter what server-side technology you use. Likewise for CSS—Sass and LESS provide alternative syntax that compiles to CSS, but they are no replacement for understanding how CSS actually works.

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Why aren’t there any popular web frameworks in C/C++ even though they are more performance intensive languages?

Because it’s very hard writing secure code in them due to the way they handle memory management, and web applications have an enormous number of potential paths for malicious input. It’s much easier to write secure web application code in a higher level language (which isn’t to say it’s easy at all even then).

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What is the difference between Windows and Linux for web hosting, in other words, what are the pros and cons of each, each’s limitations, performance development environment and deployment between Windows and Linux?

Any and every operation you perform on a Linux server can be trivially automated by copying the commands you ran in to a text file. I haven’t managed a Windows server in years and I hear PowerShell is pretty great these days but an OS based around a GUI is always going to be harder to automate than one based around a command line.

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Do I need to change something on my LIVE website to do Remote usability testing? Am I needed to create a duplicate copy of my website?

You should be able to run a working copy (potentially with fake data or a subset of your production data) on your laptop, for development purposes. You can use the same setup for usability testing new features.

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