Simon Willison’s Weblog

Items tagged webdevelopment, softwareengineering

Filters: webdevelopment × softwareengineering ×

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.

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Which web/software development conferences a student should attend and why?

Offer to volunteer at conferences. If accepted, you’ll get in for free and you’ll get to meet loads of people (including spending time with the speakers)—in exchange for a full days work manning desks, finding speakers in time for their talks, giving people directions and generally helping organise and clean things up.

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What are good ways to develop software architectures using multiple languages?

There are a bunch of options for communicating between different languages, but these days the simplest is definitely JSON—it maps directly to common data structures in PHP, Python, Ruby and so on. Treat it as your common interchange format and you can’t go far wrong. It’s very easy to build simple internal web services on top of JSON.

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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.

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Why do tech companies provide MacBooks for software development?

Smart tech companies give their engineers the laptops that they ask for. Engineers are EXPENSIVE, and anything you can do to increase their productivity is worth the money. If they prefer to work on a Mac, buy them a Mac.

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How can a new developer get involved in open-source projects?

I was going to say the same thing. Find a useful project in GitHub (preferably one that clearly has an active maintainer), fork it, fix a bug (look at the project’s issue tracker) then make a pull request.

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Which web frameworks should I focus on to make myself the most well rounded and to be able to solve the most problems as a web application developer/architect?

Being an expert web developer isn’t about which framework you know, it’s about the fundamentals. It’s important that you know how the tools you are using work, so you can fix things when they break—Joel Spolsky’s law of leaky abstractions is a great essay about this:

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How does Linkedin use Node.js?

They use it for the backed for their mobile app. Here’s an article with more information:

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Are there any Meta APIs? is a good example of this kind of API—it gives you one endpoint which wraps oembed APIs on dozens of other services (plus a bunch of custom scraping code). We use it as part of our video/slide embedding feature on

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Why is software effort estimation still based on thumb rules and gut feels? How come no one has come up with an accurate estimation model?

For a truly accurate estimation, you need to have built the software before. If you’ve built it before, why are you building it again?

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