Tag Archives: work

Asynchronous Web Applications are the Future

Given the prevalence of Jquery and Ajax request capabilities in modern web design, I’m still surprised by the amount of websites that still rely on the request -> retrieve format of web design.

We all know that speed matters on the web, and delays in getting information, or while waiting for a page to load can have a huge effect on the users experience and can sometimes drive traffic away from a website.

But with the technology available to us, it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s an exciting time to be a developer for the web, given what we can now do! So let’s start updating out sites to be “realtime” user experiences, where the page doesn’t visibly load.

A brilliant example of this would be GitHub and their project browser. Every time you click on a file or folder, it smoothly passes you to the next page, undetectably; the interface simply slides to show the next page. But the address bar updates, thus allowing you to bookmark specific places or files, but to the user it is clean and smooth. No pages loading.

For the most part our interfaces should be none blocking. We want the pages to update and refresh as we use them, showing the new information (though there are some key exceptions such as Credit Card Transactions where you want a confirmed response before processing any further).

After all users want to use web applications without interruptions or delays, and having blocking sections in there can negatively affect user experience and potentially drive clients away from your application. Users don’t generally need to see loading messages, or other feedback relating to the requests passing in the background, (though don’t misunderstand, not all feedback is bad, but it should be un-intrusive and non-blocking, like a small spinner for instance as a username is being checked and validated).

By using asynchronous requests, where the client side session updates immediately while the server updates in the background we can achieve cleaner and more user experience driven web applications. And we are starting to develop the tools to do so.

A fantastic example of this would be SpineJS that aims to let you completely decouple the server side mechanics from the user experience, which on the hole makes for neater web applications that are more pleasurable to use.

I’d love to see more of this type of development, and people should start making more use of it.

Dave, the asynchronous packet!

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The Return To Work

Or why I hate Holidays

Seriously, there is no more depressing feeling than that first day back in the office after a nice break. It kills me it really does. I’ve always hated it. Ever since High school and those long summer holidays.

The first day back is always Murder.

So much to be done, so much to catch up on. And no one has the will to do any of it. One of my colleagues face planted the desk when he discovered that over his 2 week christmas break he had somehow accumulated 600+ emails.

Me personally, I had to spend 3 hours reading over the development notes I had made as well as digging through code to work out what it was I was supposed to be working on. Not fun at all.

It always seems like the first week back is the hardest, because you have to try and pull that whole damn routine back together again. It kills my soul a little bit.

Either way, no more today.

My Brain is WAY too fried.

Dave the loather of the return to work.

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The Fun of Freelancing

I seriously enjoy freelancing. It’s probably the best thing I have ever decided to do, and it nets me some extra cash for those long weekends and those Christmas presents that people like. And in the is economy it’s not exactly the worlds worst choice to have some extra income on the books. Plus it helps to keep me occupied on weekends.

I often wonder why more people don’t do it, especially when they have a passion for the things that they do.

And there are far more areas of freelancing than people give credit too.

It can be quite scary to switch full time, but I pity those people who won’t even make the attempt. After all, if you try, and give it your best shot, but fail, then at least you made the effort instead of not bothering.

Even now, whilst working in a full time job, I look towards opportunities to do some freelance work, not only to help build my portfolio and increase my industry contacts. But heck it earns me some extra cash as I mentioned, and it gives me extra stuff to do on weekends and week nights in my free time.

Plus the more clients I manage to grab, especially those that want regular work, increase the likelihood that someday I’ll be able to make the switch on a more permanent basis.

It is certainly a lot of fun doing it along side regular work though (as long as you can cope with the pressure) because you get a lot of creative freedom to pick the projects you really want to do, because you don’t have to worry about snapping up as much work as you can, because you can still lean on your regular day job.

Plus as you start getting into it, you always have the option of discussing with work about switching to part time and slowly cutting down your hours until you can switch over completely.

I won’t kid you though, full time freelancing is a LOT of hard work, and you need to be right up on the game.

Still for those people looking at getting into the freelancing game at all there are a couple of places I certainly suggest you start looking.

Straight off the bat, head over to Freelance Switch. It’s a blog that covers all the aspects about making a move from full time employment to freelancing full time, but the amount of advice you can find on it is huge. As well as a number of links to useful web apps that you will likely want to make use of if you want to take up freelancing.

For those of you who are of a creative mind set, I’d also recommend checking out Crowd Spring seen as they do crowd sourcing for companies, so it could give you a good opportunity to get your feet wet and dip your toe in the big freelancing waters.

And as an important note. If you want to get into the freelancing game, try to save enough money so that when you quit your day job, you have ideally a three month buffer for you to start getting serious clients in. Plus that way you don’t have to worry too much right away about getting the clients in.

Also, be prepared to learn to REALLY LOVE coffee.

Dave the Code Mercenary!

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The Long Dark

Sometimes I really fucking hate winter. Everything is just so dark and dank and morbid. Grey skies and grey weather, with grey people, going to grey jobs. Everything is just GREY., and it is incredibly depressing. Honestly I can’t stand it. I really do wish sometimes that I could switch between homes in hemispheres so that I can have reasonably nice amounts of light all year round.

For the most part it’s just the light that bugs me. Mostly the sheer lack of it. When you wake up in the dark, and head home in the dark it does terrible things to your body clock. Honestly I find it almost impossible to deal with, especially given how broken my body clock already is.

I think that perhaps it’s time to either ramp up how roasted my beans are, or invest in a sun lamp.

And you all know how much I love coffee. Jeez I could honestly write an article about my love affair with coffee.

But while I love it, I really should cut down my consumption at this time of year. Mostly because I almost triple my caffeine intake over winter months.

I end up being permanently wired to the state where it makes focusing on anything major incredibly impossible, and that is no good when you have a huge project on for work.

But hey, even as I write this I’m staring at my coffee cup and think. Time for a refill, and on that thought, I shall just go and do exactly that.

Dave, the hater of grey.


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