Simon Willison’s Weblog

Items tagged webdevelopment in 2013

Filters: Year: 2013 × webdevelopment ×


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]

As a non-technical single founder for a web startup, is it better to hire a design firm to build the prototype, or find a technical co-founder?

Find a co-founder. The problem with using an outside agency to build your initial prototype is that you won’t really start learning about your product until after you have launched it. You need to have the talent available in-house to then make changes and improvements based on the feedback you get from real users.

[... 123 words]

Is there a substantial difference between using a Mac or a Windows machine for web development (particularly RoR)?

No matter if you are on Mac or Windows you should be using a Linux virtual machine for development, ideally running the same operating system as you deployment environment (I like Ubuntu for this). Vagrant is a popular tool for managing this kind of setup.

[... 151 words]

Is greater comfort with Windows a good enough reason to switch from PHP to ASP.NET?

Learning Linux really isn’t that hard, and it will dramatically increase your potential horizons as a programmer. Install Ubuntu on a virtual machine on your laptop and start running through some tutorials.

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What is the ways to view the examples without download the example files in github?

If you can view the file on raw.github.com you can drop the first dot to view it on rawgithub.com—a free proxy service.

[... 107 words]

I’ve been working alone for about a year, how do I get out of this feeling of loneliness because no one is around me?

This is why co-working spaces exist. I don’t know which country you are based in but here in the UK most cities and many larger towns now have at least one tech-focused co-working space where you can rent a desk on a month-to-month basis and have a work environment outside your home with other freelancers with whom you can socialize.

[... 129 words]

How log in my e-mail and send sms via php?

If you want to send SMS via PHP I suggest taking a look at www.twilio.com—they are pretty inexpensive and ridiculously easy to get started with.

[... 44 words]

What’s involved in making a site like JibJab go from conception to reality?

I’m afraid you don’t get to create a hit website just by having an idea: You have to have the skills and focus to actually make it happen.

[... 118 words]

Why doesn’t Google use their resources to improve coding languages?

Google invest vast resources in to language improvements, and have been doing so for over a decade now. Just off the top of my head...

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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]

What are some ways that brought your proficiency of CSS to another level?

An exercise I found useful when I first learned CSS was to implement CSS versions of the designs of popular sites. This was back when most sites still used tables for layout.

[... 76 words]

Why can’t I do style=“padding: 20px” and a border in the same div?

You can’t have two style attributes on the same element—but you can have two styles rules inside the same attribute. Try this instead:

[... 48 words]

What are tips for keeping website up on Black Friday? (due to large number of hits)

Serve as much of your site as possible using Varnish, and/or consider a dynamic content CDN such as www.fastly.com

[... 42 words]

What’s best the site to visit to START building a website?

There are two ways to approach this: you can try and learn HTML yourself, or you can use tools that will help you build websites quickly without needing to code.

[... 114 words]

Wrapping block elements in anchor tags? I know this wasn’t valid markup in HTML4 but has this changed or is the only option through JS?

This is a new thing in HTML5: “Block-level” links in HTML5

[... 43 words]

My contract with web developer says a) she will create a unique description for each page, AND b) that she is not responsible for writing or inputting any content. Now she wants me to compose the page descriptions, citing (b). What do you think? Edit...

You should write the copy. Copy is important—you don’t want it to be written by someone who believes it isn’t even their responsibility, and will hence probably do a poor job of it.

[... 93 words]

What is the Hacker News technology stack?

It’s written in Arc, a Lisp variant created by Paul Graham. I believe it uses the file system for storage rather than a dedicated database.

[... 70 words]

What design techniques does Apple use in the introduction page of iPad Air?

Apple used the same technique on their Apple—Mac Pro page. I first saw this trick used on the BeerCamp at SXSW 2011 page.

[... 91 words]

What kind of website can be run on AWS for 10, 100, 1 thousand, 10 thousand, 100 thousand, 1 million dollars per month?

“But is there a simple way to say that for 10$ per month you can run website on AWS, that has X unique users and Y data transfer...”

[... 166 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]

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.

[... 36 words]

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).

[... 104 words]

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

[... 73 words]

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

Don’t sacrifice your social life. Sacrifice TV.

[... 79 words]

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).

[... 88 words]

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.

[... 167 words]

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...

[... 55 words]

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.

[... 185 words]

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 :)

[... 126 words]