Archive for the ‘Programming’ Category

The (Rails) times they are a-changin’?

April 26, 2012

I always knew we wouldn't last forever.

I just attended my first RailsConf, and I feel a little sad.

Oh, the irony. I attend my first conference devoted to the development tool I’ve been devoted to for the last six years, and my overwhelming feeling is that it’s time to move on…to a new development paradigm and a new toolset.

What I heard from DHH, Aaron Patterson, and Yehuda Katz in their conference addresses was this:

“The web dev paradigm is shifting under our feet. All the fun is moving to the browser, which means to Javascript. Weren’t we prescient to embrace REST years ago so that we can now become a great web service platform, dishing out JSON from a thousand endpoints of API light as a sort of workhorse for the sexy stuff the JS guys and gals are doing. (If we hadn’t done that, we might already be a dinosaur.)

“Oh, and be prepared, because we may do something crazy. Like coming up with some sort of browser/Javascript framework for Rails, because we want to do the sexy stuff too.”

Oh, Rails. The writing is already on the wall, I’m afraid. The future web dev paradigm is already being speedily developed. (If I had to pick its embodiment right now, I’d lay my money on Meteor.)

Ruby is a fantastic language. I am not even a 7 with Javascript. But my new projects, at least the side ones, are going to be in Meteor.

Jack Welch said, “Change before you have to.” Don’t wait too long.

Stability or creative chaos?

January 4, 2012

Last night I joined Karthik Hariharan, Curtis Summers, and Greg Vaughn on the very low-tech bar stools at the front of the Dallas Ruby Brigade‘s monthly meeting. We, the panel, were there to discuss our versions of “The Path to Ruby”–topic courtesy of super-organizer Mark McSpadden.

Among the many interesting topics to emerge was the differing circumstances in which each of us were launched into our careers, post-university.

To over-simplify, I found myself contrasting my work-force entry roughly 20 years before my co-panelists.


Stable but deadly?

  • Small-ish number of large employers
  • High demand for programmers: have Computer Science degree? Welcome aboard!
  • Nascent start-up/venture capital ecosystem (so as to be pretty much invisible to new grads)
  • Seemingly clear traditional career path
  • Well-defined, and narrowly defined, roles for CS grads

Early 2000s (ignoring for the moment the post-dot-com, post-9/11 meltdown):

Burning out of control?

  • Large number of small- and medium-sized employers
  • High demand for “rock star” programmers
  • Start-up/VC culture in full bloom
  • Many more career path options
  • “Programmers” often expected to double/dabble in stuff you didn’t learn in school, like visual design

Couple this with the rise of open source software, the ubiquity of the blog-twit-IM-chat-osphere, the trend toward shorter job tenures and multiple careers, and my younger co-panelists have spent their early careers in an environment radically different than the one I found post-university.

Which is better?


We’re all different. From some of my colleagues last night, I heard a little yearning for a more stable work life. Understandable, particularly when you’re young and perhaps starting a family.

Call me a glass-half-full guy, but as much as I appreciated being in demand post-graduation, I also very much like today’s more dynamic, more creative environment. Never before in history have “hackers” been able to be so creative, to bring so much value into the world, as they are right now.

How about you? Pick your mix. What blend of stability vs creative chaos would you pick? 50/50? 75% stability, with a dash of chaos? Vice versa?

IE8 doesn’t like my HTML

August 3, 2011

The problem

jQuery('div#space-for-' + institutionId).html(data);

This seemingly simple line of code was working fine in Chrome and FireFox, but did not result in placing the “data” HTML content in the selected div. Nothing at all changed on the page when in IE8.

I tested it in jQuery-1.4.2 and jQuery-1.6.2 with identical results.

The cure

Finally, I tried inserting a simple HTML string directly in the html() method:

jQuery('div#space-for-' + institutionId).html('<h1>Testing</h1>');

And it worked. Hmmm.

Mind your closing tags

After some careful parsing of my HTML, I discovered a missing </div> tag. That was causing IE8 to ignore the (fairly length) inserted fragment altogether. Add in the missing tag and…voilà…all is well again.