Simon Willison’s Weblog

Items tagged webdevelopment, quora, webapps

Filters: webdevelopment × quora × webapps ×


What’s the cheapest or free stack solution to deploy and experiment with a realtime application in 2016?

Heroku have a good free tier, and comprehensive support for deploying both Python and Node.js. If you are mainly interested in realtime I would suggest starting out with Node.js on Heroku. Depending on the complexity of your project you might even be able to use raw Node.js without adding something like Express.

[... 81 words]

How does one decide which Javascript framework (e.g. Node, Backbone, Angular) to use on any given project?

If you are just learning JavaScript, I suggest trying to work without any frameworks or libraries at all. Starting with something like Angular will make it much harder for you to learn the core language and browser APIs.

[... 137 words]

Why did Twitter move away from being a single-page application?

Twitter is still a single page application, it’s just built properly now (one result of which is that you can’t easily tell).

[... 712 words]

Are Django versions released too often?

The Django release process is well documented (see Django’s release process) and has been specifically designed to address the concerns of developers who don’t want to have to spend too much time keeping up to date with the latest version.

[... 182 words]

What would be a good web application framework to use for running a small online retail business?

I’d look at hosted SaaS solutions rather than running your own. I haven’t tried it myself but I’ve heard excellent things about www.shopify.com

[... 47 words]

PostgreSQL: How can I store images in a database? What existing products makes it easy for a user to upload photos into a general database?

As a general rule, it’s a bad idea to store images in a database. This is due to the large amount of space they take up, which can affect database read performance and will greatly increases the size of your backups, making them both take longer and cost more to store.

[... 187 words]

Would you test your web app against simulated infrastructure failure?

I think this is a pretty interesting idea—simulating these kind of conditions isn’t easy so I imagine many teams don’t bother. If it was good (really easy to get started with, great control and reporting tools, maybe helped set up the actual tests to replay) and I trusted the service I would definitely consider paying for it.

[... 125 words]

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.

[... 56 words]

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.

[... 87 words]

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.

[... 42 words]

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).

[... 77 words]

I have an idea for a website, with an idea for eventually having cashflow out of it? However, my skills are insufficient to build it and I have no money at all to hire someone—what’s my best starting point?

You either need to learn some skills, or you need to earn some money. Sadly, having a good idea is not enough—you need to be able to execute it as well.

[... 80 words]

What technologies were used in developing web applications in the ’90s?

Perl. Lots of Perl. There was a site called Matt’s Script Archive which was full of terribly written Perl scripts for things like hit counters and form emailers and guest books. It was very popular.

[... 59 words]

How is Web engineering related to Software engineering?

I’d describe it as a subset of software engineering that deals with issues relating to the web—web application development, web protocols, browsers and so on.

[... 41 words]

What are useful tools for building out web app Infrastructure?

First, make sure you know your way around a command automation tool, such as Fabric (Python) or Capistrano (Ruby).

[... 63 words]

What are some apps, problems you would suggest to solve a new python developer?

The best way to learn python in my opinion is using the interactive prompt. Install ipython (a massive improvement on the standard python shell) and use it to interactively solve some simple tasks—things like downloading a CSV file from the web using the urllib library, parsing it with the csv module, then poking around in the data using python list comprehensions and saving some of the results out to a JSON file.

[... 95 words]

How should one go about designing a simple web based collaborative text editor?

Take a look at the open source ShareJS library, which implements a bunch of the fundamental (and extremely tricky) algorithms you need to get collaborative editing in the browser to work well: https://github.com/josephg/ShareJS/

[... 53 words]

How can I keep my website content exclusive?

No, there isn’t—people can always copy things if they really want to, it’s part of the cost of doing business. If you were to publish a book people could always photocopy it.

[... 108 words]

Did Mark Zuckerberg have any knowledge on building scalable social networks prior to starting work on Facebook?

I’m going to bet he didn’t have this knowledge, simply because back when he launched Facebook in 2004 almost NO ONE had this knowledge—there simply weren’t enough “web scale” products around for the patterns needed to run them to be widely discussed.

[... 143 words]

Is there a simple way to create a form that asks people to upload a picture and an answer to a question, and then gives me access to that info?

You could build this very easily using http://wufoo.com/—an online form building tool (with a superb interface).

[... 55 words]

What specific skills are most important in a front-end web developer and in a back-end web developer?

Understanding of web app security. If they don’t know what XSS, CSRF and clickjacking are I’d be worried.

[... 41 words]

What is a single page application and is this the technology I should use for developing  my web application?

Single page applications are applications which are heavily dependent on JavaScript, with just one web page that you visit which then loads all other content using JavaScript. Prominent examples include Gmail and the new twitter.com

[... 360 words]

What are some other conferences similar to Velocity?

Surge (28-30 Sept 2011 in Brooklyn) has a very good reputation: http://omniti.com/surge/

[... 41 words]

How are real time web applications achievable with PHP?

You don’t need to build your comet server using the same technology as the rest of your site.

[... 181 words]

What is the largest production deployment of Server Side JavaScript?

I believe Flickr used to use Rhino for scripting the image processing (resizing, thumbnailing, sharpening) that was applied to every single uploaded photo. No idea if that’s still the case though.

[... 47 words]