Archives For howto

The idea of Udemy is great. It’s an online marketplace for instructors to publish and sell their courses. Udemy provides great marketing, and they often have amazing promotional rates. At this point, there are many thousands of classes available for you to take, and often times there are many that cover the same topic.

Udemy’s marketing team helps authors create great graphics, descriptions and intro videos, which makes it even more difficult to tell what’s good. They prominently display how many people have signed up for a class, and you might be tempted to think that more students means the class is good. Well, here are some even better ways to find the good ones. Continue Reading…

I frequently get asked the question, “How do I get started doing web design?” I’ve answered it so many times that I decided I’d post the answer that I’ve given.

Let’s first make a few things clear: many people in the industry consider web design to be a generic term when used by someone outside of the industry. It is a bit ambiguous – do you mean you want to do design work, or do you want to focus more on coding? It is quite common for someone to be strong in design skills but not so strong at coding, and similarly for someone to be a great coder but not so great at design.

In this case I’m referring specifically to someone who wants to do design. We’d call someone who prefers code a web developer. The answer has a lot in common if they said they liked to code, but I would give a different answer. I’ll share it as a separate blog post. Continue Reading…

“Handlebars” is a nickname for a fancy mustache. This pretty well embodies how Handlebars.js is a superset of the Mustache template library. Superset means that it has all the features of Mustache plus some extras. Like Mustache, Handlebars is a logicless template library. If you use a logicless template system after using tools like ASP or PHP you may feel there is a lot missing. It takes a little adjusting to, and one nice thing about Handlebars vs Mustache is that it makes the transition a little easier and more graceful.

Prior to my research for writing this series, Mustache was my favorite. I do still highly recommend it, but now I will be switching my work to using Handlebars.js. It has everything I like about Mustache, but it has a little better Javascript support, especially on the server side, and the conditional syntax is a little easier to use.

By the way, this is one part of a 5 piece series, so if you want to explore other options, don’t forget to visit the series start where I explain the biases and summary information and link to all of the tutorials.

Continue Reading…

Mustache is described, simply, as “logicless templates.” The first time I used mustache I was pretty surprised at how minimalistic it was. And by surprised, I mean frustrated. You have extremely basic conditionals, an iterator loop and the ability to display information. There is no “if” (per se), no ability to call functions, mustache is not in any way a programming language.

You may think there is a lot missing, and there is, but this is not bad. It forces you to keep your logic all in one place, in the program. This increases the manageability of your code-base. It also allows Mustache to be easily ported to many programming languages. You can use it with Javascript, via Hogan.js, the library I used in this example, or Java, PHP, Ruby and numerous other languages.

By the way, this is one part of a 5 piece series, so if you want to explore other options, don’t forget to visit the series start where I explain the biases and summary information and link to all of the tutorials. Continue Reading…

JSHTML provides an adaption of the razor view engine in Javascript. If you’ve used the Razor view engine for .Net languages then this could be the right template for you and your Node.js project. However, you’ll have to be more tenacious than I am, because the version bundled with Node.js is broken.

As a matter of fact, this will be quite a short review because I couldn’t find enough redeeming qualities to warrant the extra work to get it integrated.

By the way, this is one part of a 5 piece series, so if you want to explore other options, don’t forget to visit the series start where I explain the biases and summary information and link to all of the tutorials.

Continue Reading…

EJS “cleans the HTML out of client-side templates.” From that description, you’ll quickly realize that EJS was at first a client-side template library. It has been repurposed successfully to also be a good server-side client library for Node.js.

In my opinion, using the word “clean” in the same sentence as EJS is a bit misleading. It does have the benefit of being included as part of the Express library for Node.js, which makes it easy to get started with, however like some other libraries, it lost functionality when Express made the jump to 3.0.

By the way, this is one part of a 5 piece series, so if you want to explore other options, don’t forget to visit the series start where I explain the biases and summary information and link to all of the tutorials.

Continue Reading…

According to the Jade website, “Jade is a terse and simple templating language with a strong focus on performance and powerful features.” Similar to Python, it uses indentation to help keep track of tag nesting which forces you to keep your markup looking clean. Because there are no closing tags, the end result is very concise. I suspect that if you used CoffeScript and Stylus, Jade would feel very comfortable.

Furthermore, it is the default template language enabled in new Express.js apps. Therefore it is commonly featured in beginners tutorials and documentation. At first glance I found it very confusing. The tutorial featured on the homepage is quite trivial, and therefore isn’t very representative of real-world work. However, there is decent documentation that you can dig into. You’ll find that much of the documentation focuses on standard HTML syntax and less on the dynamic capabilities.

By the way, this is one part of a 5 piece series, so if you want to explore other options, don’t forget to visit the series start where I explain the biases and summary information and link to all of the tutorials. Continue Reading…

Recently I was using a Node.js library that incorporated EJS and I wondered what factored into the decision to choose that template engine over some of the others. I realized that because of my familiarity with Mustache, when I started using Node.js I immediately started with Hogan.js (see my tutorial on how to supercharge Hogan with Express) and I hadn’t checked out the other popular options. What are the differences between Jade, EJS, Hogan, Handelbars and JSHTML? I’d never used most of them in a real project.

I decided it was time to change that, and figured that if I were going to do the research I might as well share the results with you. I thought I could just make one long post but wow it turned out to be long so I’ve chosen to split it into 5 separate articles, which I’m linking below. Before we get into the specifics, let me take a moment to explain my biases and tell you what I value so you can use my comparisons to make your own decisions. Continue Reading…

Big Performance from Apache on a Small Server

I’ve published another article for DigitalOcean on performance, this time focusing on Apache. They apparently didn’t like my catchy name and simply called it “How to optimize Apache web server performance,” which is too bad, but hey, that’s how it goes!

Apache is an amazingly powerful and capable web server. In order to make initial setup as easy as possible, it comes with numerous modules pre-installed. This makes it a great choice for new projects when you need to quickly be productive. However, as your site grows you may start to bump into performance problems.

What first attracted me to DigitalOcean was the low cost to get started. The smallest and cheapest droplets have 512MB of RAM, which doesn’t seem like much in today’s world of big frameworks. However, you’d be surprised what you can do with a small server like this if you take a little time to tweak the settings.

If you’re running Apache on one of the smaller sizes of droplets, or if you want to maximize your performance on the bigger droplets, here are a few things you should do. I’ll be using Ubuntu 12.04 in the examples but the principles I’m demonstrating are applicable to other versions of Linux as well.

Read the article on DigitalOcean: How to Optimize Apache Web Server Performance

Ruby has it. Node.js has it. Python has it. Java has it. And now, finally, PHP has it too! A built in web server for developing and testing applications locally! Let’s be fair, PHP has had this capability since mid-2012, but it wasn’t available on Mac OS until Mavericks launched in October 2013.

So now you don’t need MAMP to do local development. You probably just need a database, either the included sqlite3, the fabulous PostgreSQL.app or MySQL (brew install mysql). Here’s how to get going: Continue Reading…