This extended category features articles on client-side and server-side programming languages, tools, frameworks and libraries, as well as back-end issues. Experts and professionals reveal their coding tips, tricks and ideas. .
Very frequently in Web development (and programming in general), you need to store a long list of boolean values (yes/no, true/false, checked/unchecked… you get the idea) into something that accepts only strings. Maybe it’s because you want to store them in
localStorage or in a cookie, or send them through the body of an HTTP request. I’ve needed to do this countless times.
The last time I stumbled on such a case wasn’t with my own code. It was when Christian Heilmann showed me his then new slide deck, with a cool feature where you could toggle the visibility of individual slides in and out of the presentation. On seeing it, I was impressed. Looking more closely, though, I realized that the checkbox states did not persist after the page reloaded. So, someone could spend a long time carefully tweaking their slides, only to accidentally hit F5 or crash their browser, and then — boom! — all their work would be lost. Christian told me that he was already working on storing the checkbox states in
localStorage. Then, naturally, we endlessly debated the storage format. That debate inspired me to write this article, to explore the various approaches in depth.
In the early days of PHP applications, “spaghetti code” was a familiar sight. Fragments of PHP code were mixed in with HTML mark-up. There were no frameworks, so Web applications were just a bunch of source files. As the PHP language matured, developers started to think about the cleanliness and maintainability of their code. The model-view-controller (MVC) pattern was introduced.
The code I write in my live demo slides and presentations doesn’t have any prefixes, even for things like
@keyframes or the
transition property, which aren’t yet supported anywhere prefix-less. To be able to do this, I wrote a script that detects the prefix of the current browser and adds it where needed. Recently, I thought, why not adapt the script to process all of the CSS code on a page, so that the CSS in my style sheets is as elegant as the code in my demos? Shortly after, prefixfree was born.
Plugin development has evolved over the past few years. We no longer have just one way to write plugins, but many. In reality, certain patterns might work better for a particular problem or component than others. Some developers may wish to use the jQuery UI widget factory; it’s great for complex, flexible UI components. Some may not. Some might like to structure their plugins more like modules (similar to the module pattern) or use a more formal module format such as AMD. And so on.
Welcome to the first entry in a new series on Smashing Coding called Sidenotes. Sidenotes are shorter than traditional Smashing Magazine articles and are designed to give you a quick introduction to useful tools and services. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at productivity aids, useful apps, essential plugins and code examples that we think will help you in your daily coding work. If there is a tool, product or service that you think would be great to review, please do get in touch and let us know.
When I started developing websites, back in the days when we wrote HTML proudly in uppercase, Web development frameworks didn’t really exist in the form we have today. I’m sure I’m not the only one who could dig out a folder of “include” files that helped me handle repetitive coding functions such as interacting with databases and forms.
Today, we can choose from a huge array of frameworks, which provide us with different approaches to creating websites. If you are like me, you probably just ended up using a framework either because your job required it or because you like trying out new technologies and found one that works for you. But if you had to choose anew today, which would you pick?
In school, I hated math. It was a dire, dry and boring thing with stuffy old books and very theoretical problems. Even worse, a lot of the tasks were repetitive, with a simple logical change in every iteration (dividing numbers by hand, differentials, etc.). It was exactly the reason why we invented computers. Suffice it to say, a lot of my math homework was actually done by my trusty Commodore 64 and some lines of Basic, with me just copying the results later on.
These tools and the few geometry lessons I had gave me the time and inspiration to make math interesting for myself. I did this first and foremost by creating visual effects that followed mathematical rules in demos, intros and other seemingly pointless things. There is a lot of math in the visual things we do, even if we don’t realize it. If you want to make something look natural and move naturally, you need to add a bit of physics and rounding to it.
People in boardrooms across the world love a good graph. They go nuts for PowerPoint, bullet points and phrases like “run it up the flagpole,” “blue-sky thinking” and “low-hanging fruit,” and everything is always “moving forward.” Backwards is not an option for people who facilitate paradigm shifts in the zeitgeist. Graphs of financial projections, quarterly sales figures and market saturation are a middle-manager’s dream.
How can we as Web designers get in on all of this hot graph action? There are actually quite a few ways to display graphs on the Web. We could simply create an image and nail it to a Web page. But that’s not very accessible or interesting. We could use Flash, which is quite good for displaying graphs — but again, not very accessible. Besides, designers, developers and deities are falling out of love with Flash.