Leaving webOS, but not the Web

While at Palm and HP, I made it my mission to evangelize HTML5 app development both inside and outside our company. The very core of the webOS value proposition was the web. In webOS, mobile websites, native and web-based apps lived together in a “zen-like” harmony.

At least, that was the theory. In my two years there, I watched webOS slip from a leader in mobile web to a distant follower. I won’t elaborate much on the internal hows and whys (frankly, I doubt I even have the full story anyway), but the simple fact was I had a dramatic drop in confidence in our ability to stay relevant. All the drama in the news didn’t help, and neither did the mighty layoff hammer which eventually swung down on myself and more than half of the remaining staff.

I’ve had a couple months to relax, decompress, and

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Urgent Call to Inaction from the W3C

Rarely do I find a need to call out the W3C folks (or anyone, for that matter), but the recent post by Daniel Glazman (@glazou), co-chair of the W3C CSS working group, pushed me over the edge.

In his article, he calls for everyone to, get this, stop using -webkit in their sites. He equates webkit, now a popular engine for most new mobile browsers, to IE6. Moreover, he calls it a “threat to the open web”.

Seriously?

This from the group responsible for years of delays in approving standards? Remember, these are the fine folks who for the past three years have cautioned web developers from using HTML5 (a term used a bit liberally to also include new CSS3, video, local storage, web sockets and other goodies) because they’re still working on drafts for it. Take the canvas tag, a webkit mainstay since 2005, which is still a

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JavaScript Library vs. App Framework

Really? There’s a fresh debate raging in the JavaScript community. The battle lines are drawn between those who like all-in-one solutions for app development, and those who prefer to assemble the pieces themselves. Really, the fight is more between those who make these things, not those who use them.

A site for the little libraries

The recent ugliness was sparked by microjs.com, a small project which aims to list some of the more useful tiny (5K or less) code libraries out in the wild.

Then the flames started spewing over Twitter. The brunt of the griping was focused on @thomasfuchs (of script.aculo.us and zepto.js fame) and @ded (ender.js and about 100 other handy things). Arguments generally centered around the size limit (5K): “that’s so arbitrary, why can’t my lib get listed too” (generally followed by much wailing and gnashing of teeth).

Short

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Source code docs: down with javadoc, up with markdown!

Good documentation doesn’t come easy. Documenting source code is rarely something a coder likes to do. I’m just as guilty as anyone else. I know it’s a “good thing”, but my natural inclination is to code first and document later. Sometimes later comes so late that it’s a chore to get it done. I’ve been forcing myself to document as I go, and it usually works out pretty well in the end.

I’m a control freak

What’s made this process easier for me is to completely dump the notion of auto-generated documentation (I’m looking at you, javadoc, jsdoc, yuidoc, ruby-doc and the like). Instead, I favor writing the documentation for a given piece of code with markdown.

It’s a tradeoff between automation and control, and when it comes to documentation, I prefer the control.

I can start by documenting only that

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Turtle Wax: LOGO-style graphics re-imagined for JavaScript and HTML5 Canvas

I was feeling nostalgic over the holidays, and extolling the virtues of one of the first languages I enjoyed as a kid: LOGO. Then I dug back into the syntax of LOGO. Compared to modern programming languages, words like “terse” and “arcane” spring to mind.

I decided I wasn’t that nostalgic after all, but I did want to bring some of the cool graphics capabilities of that venerable language to JavaScript.

Instead of making a LOGO interpreter in JavaScript (it’s been done), I made a small API to achieve turtle graphics in a more familiar setting.

Check out a couple code demos

Be sure to view source on these pages:

Spirograph inspired designs

Fractal trees translated from a LOGO example

How it works

The API attaches itself to a canvas tag, and supports chaining. I also decided to add some convenient methods for more traditional cartesian and polar coordinate systems.

More info can be found at the project

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