Simon Willison’s Weblog

140 items tagged “programming”

2011

What are good 2012 Technology Conferences in US for Programmers?

It would help if you were more specific about the kind of programmer you are—there’s a big difference between C++ game developer conferences, Ruby on Rails events, Agile methodology conventions etc. Each developer ecosystem has its own flagship events (for Microsoft developers it’s the BUILD conference, which hasn’t been announced for 2012 yet—for iPhone/Mac developers it’s Apple’s WWDC, Oracle have Oracle OpenWorld, the Rails community has RailsConf, for Django people it’s DjangoCon US and EU, etc).

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Can someone improve their knowledge of programming in Ruby or PHP by using a framework like Rails or Zend, or does the framework just do a lot of the work for you without giving you an opportunity to learn from it?

Read the source, luke.

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What programming conferences are in Romania in 2011?

How To Web looked like an excellent conference last year. They haven’t announced dates for 2011 yet but I’d keep an eye on their Twitter account:

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What conferences should a programmer working in the industry follow?

If I had to pick just one programming-related conference a year, it would probably be OSCON. The maintainers of pretty much every piece of software I use on a daily basis go there.

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2010

What are some of the best quotations on programming/programming languages?

“There are only two hard problems in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things”—Phil Karlton

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How do you successfully outsource a web application project that is a copy of another website?

You may find that the quality of developers you can hire depends on the quality of the project. Copying another website doesn’t sound like a very interesting project.

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Why is Java perceived as not cool for startups? We seem to be getting a lot of feedback lately that a startup should be using Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python, etc., if they want to be agile and iterate quickly.

You should re-evaluate your beliefs. Dynamic language programmers spend a great deal of time thinking about code quality and maintainability. TDD (and BDD), which I believe was first popularised within the Ruby community) are extremely widespread, and profiling and debugging tools are widely used and constantly improved. A strong test suite provides far more effective protection against bugs than static typing and an IDE.

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Why does Python load imported modules separately for different files, unlike C or PHP? Isn’t that inefficient in terms of memory usage?

It doesn’t—you’re misunderstanding how Python’s module system works. If two different places have “import os” in them, the os module is only imported and executed once—it’s cached in the sys.modules dictionary so you can see it happen if you want to. The key thing to understand is that “import os” attaches the os module to the “os” symbol within the current file’s scope, loading it only if it hasn’t been loaded already.

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What is the best way to maintain a API wrapper class across multiple languages?

1. Use JSON for your API. That takes away a lot of the necessity for an API wrapper, since it means you’re automatically returning native data types (hashes, lists, strings etc) for most programming languages.

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What are the main weaknesses of Ruby as a programming language?

Ruby still has a cultural tendency towards monkey-patching, aka action-at-a-distance. There are plenty of gems which modify existing classes—sometimes in ways that can break working code.

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What companies are using Node.js in production in Texas?

There’s a list on this page: https://github.com/joyent/node/w...

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Is there a way to learn Ruby in one hour?

Not unless you already know a bunch of other languages and are well versed in programming language theory. Even then, that might be long enough to get your head around Ruby syntax and semantics but it will still take weeks or months of study to get truly comfortable with the language idioms.

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Why do so few companies use the Dojo Toolkit?

Dojo is fantastic software, but it does a lot more than the other libraries and consequently has a much higher learning curve. It’s advanced features may serve as something of a disadvantage for achieving more widespread adoption—most developers don’t need the more advanced abstractions provided by Dojo when they start their projects, and by the time they DO need that stuff they’ve already written a ton of code using another library!

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What company had the first API?

They weren’t the first to have an API, but Flickr were the first consumer web site that really pushed the concept in my opinion. They originally promoted it as “you can always get your data back if you want to”, but they then greatly benefited from the ecosystem that grew up around it.

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What is a painless way for a non-Unix programmer to get started learning Unix or GNU/Linux?

I’d suggest getting yourself an Ubuntu virtual machine running on your own laptop—VirtualBox is free, so that’s a good starting point. That way you can play with Linux all you like without fear of breaking anything, since you can always delete the image or roll back to a snapshot.

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Is it important for modern programmers to know how to use Unix? Why?

I’d say yes. If you do any kind of server-side development, Linux/Unix etc UNIX (links to: /topic/Unix), etc., is where most of the exciting innovation is happening. Tools like HadoopApache Hadoop (links to: /topic/Apache-Hadoop), RedisRedis (links to: /topic/Redis), MongoDBMongoDB (links to: /topic/MongoDB), nginxnginx (links to: /topic/nginx), git etc Git (links to: /topic/Git-version-control-1), etc., all come from a Unix UNIX culture, and not knowing your way around a command line makes it much harder to get to grips with them.

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Will Redis support per-database persistence configuration?

I don’t know if that’s on the roadmap (you’d need to ask antirez on the mailing list or Twitter), but it should be easy enough to run multiple Redis instances with different settings—especially on a multi core machine.

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Good design in computer programming consists of inventing abstractions that don’t leak.  Good programming consists of implementing those abstractions in such a way that they don’t leak.

Mike Taylor # 26th April 2010, 5:42 pm

grammar.coffee (via) The annotated grammar for CoffeeScript, a new language that compiles to JavaScript developed by DocumentCloud’s Jeremy Ashkenas. The linked page is generated using Jeremy’s Docco tool for literate programming, also written in CoffeeScript. CoffeeScript itself is implemented in CoffeeScript, using a bootstrap compiler originally written in Ruby. # 8th March 2010, 7:27 pm

2009

I think it’s really important to know the whole stack even if you don’t operate within the whole stack.

Brad Fitzpatrick # 25th December 2009, 11:31 pm

dustin’s gomemcached (via) A memcached server written in Go, an experiment by memcached maintainer Dustin Sallings. # 13th November 2009, 3:13 pm

The Go Programming Language. A brand new systems programming language, designed by Robert Griesemer and Unix/Plan 9 veterans Rob Pike and Ken Thompson and funded by Google. Concurrency is supported by lightweight communicating processes called goroutines. “It feels like a dynamic language but has the speed and safety of a static language.” # 11th November 2009, 7 am

Toiling in the data-mines: what data exploration feels like. Useful advice from Tom Armitage on the exploratory development approach required when starting to build a project against a large, complex dataset. Tips include making sure you have a REPL to hand and using tools like gRaphael to generate graphs against pretty much everything, since until you’ve seen their shape you won’t know if they are interesting or not. # 26th October 2009, 9:34 am

I like Unicorn because it’s Unix. Ryan Tomayko analyses Unicorn, a new, pre-forking Ruby HTTP server that makes extensive use of Unix syscalls and idioms, and asks why dynamic language programmers don’t take advantage of these more often. # 7th October 2009, 11:42 am

The Little Manual of API Design (PDF). A concise, highly readable guide to designing APIs that are “Complete, Easy to learn and memorize, lead to readable code, hard to misuse, and easy to extend”, based on lessons learnt over many years of development of the Qt framework. # 18th May 2009, 10:14 am

Switching from scripting languages to Objective C and iPhone: useful libraries. Matt Biddulph collects together some very useful libraries for developers just getting started with Objective-C (though I’m not too keen on the title). # 27th January 2009, 5:50 pm

Coding Horror: A Scripter at Heart. Sigh. I cannot believe that the false distinction between “scripting” and “programming” is still being discussed. # 26th January 2009, 6:06 pm

Learning to Think Like A Programmer. Outstanding advice aimed mainly at journalists, but important to anyone who collects information for a living and might want it to be automatically processed at some point in the future. # 22nd January 2009, 6:06 pm

The History of Python (via) “A series of articles on the history of the Python programming language and its community”, being compiled by Guido plus guest authors. # 14th January 2009, 9:42 am

why’s potion. why’s latest project is a small, fast language (JIT to x86/x86-64) which seems to take ideas from Ruby, Lua, Python and who knows where else. Everything is based around objects, closures and mixins, with the delightful inclusion of scoped mixins so you can modify an object only within a certain module (hence avoiding Ruby’s action-at-a-distance problems). # 8th January 2009, 6:37 pm