Saturday, September 4, 2010

SimpleYUI, thoughts on NodeJS development

I've been a huge fan of YUI for a few years, even back when they were named YUI-Ext. Recently, they rolled out SimpleYUI. When asking other web developers why they don't like YUI, they say, "their package system is too complicated" or "you can't just start accessing the DOM by including the library easily". Incidentally, back in the day, it was far worse--YUI didn't even have a selector engine until they ported someone else's into YAHOO.util.Selector (remember this guy?). This design flaw in the library is probably what cost them in terms of people adopting YUI. As a developer, you want a consistent way of doing the most common things (dom access).

Back in the day, you would have to call YAHOO.util.Dom.get(element or string for ID of element). This was terrible because they introduced YAHOO.util.Selector.query(cssSelector) right after and soon developers were choosing between fetching DOM elements by selector or by ID. MooTools has the same problem but separates it in $() versus $$(). How about jQuery? $(cssSelector or element). Everything is passed as a css selector or a DOM element and it stays consistent through $(). I am certainly glad that they have aligned towards having a consistent API for fetching DOM elements. At my last job, some projects were using the old YAHOO.util.Dom.get('') and some projects had YAHOO.util.Selector.query(). With SimpleYUI, you're able to get the simplicity of how you're using jQuery but you also get the power of swapping back to using YUI's powerful packages.

NodeJS: why you should jumping in to help bring NodeJS into the production-ready realm

When people ask me about whether we should adopt NodeJS into a production-level deploy, I have to state the clear and obvious answer: no, it isn't proven yet and we would burn too much budget trying to seek the answers that haven't been answered yet.

Every single time I say that exact sentence a part of me gets disheartened. Why? Because saying "no" to it is the most responsible thing to say if you're a technology leader. What happens when your project goes overbudget because you didn't have the technical skill set to handle this new technology? You get blamed for trying to push it into production.

I understand that it is new and unproven; so the question is: what can I do to ensure that NodeJS can be fully integrated into production deployments (big builds or small builds). I have been asking myself this for quite some time now and I find it way too easy for someone to disapprove of NodeJS because of how unproven it is; so the best thing to do for the NodeJS community would be the following:

1) More Node Knockout tournaments (I've showed this off to my coworkers and they are highly impressed with the apps developed)
2) More technical writers and video producers (viral video for how to setup your website in 5 mins on Node)
3) More web hosting solutions than just Joyent/Heroku/Linode, let people start creating sites on top of a solid backend!
4) More enterprise solutions, such as, application server replacements like JBoss

The most exciting part about NodeJS isn't the fact that we can move towards fast real-time web applications, or the fact that you can scale out to more users with less hardware--it's the fact that it has never been done before. Furthermore, having Javascript run on the front-end and the back-end is the most exciting part about NodeJS development; if you find yourself without a challenge, try NodeJS out!

Incidentally, after watching Douglas Crockford's Loopage talk, he said, "That's why software development is so slow, you basically have to wait for a generation to die off before you can get critical mass on the next great idea" and "We're about to take maybe the most important step we've ever taken in terms of the technology fo the web and Javascript is leading the way. Who would ever imagine that? Javascript is the technology leader, it's not just the thing we tolerate." Such an inspiring speech by Douglas Crockford. That said, my passion for advancing software development has been lit once again. Good stuff will be coming out in the near future! Believe it!

Good luck and have fun,
Jaime Bueza

Jaime Bueza is a software developer in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He has developed web applications for Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Ritchie Brothers, Kiwi Collections, and Cox Communications. When he's not developing useful software that constantly evolves with business requirements, he's creating tutorial videos for aspiring front-end developers.