Archive for the ‘Web Development’ Category

October 13, 2007
Filed Under (Technology, Web Development) by Ollie Cronk on 13-10-2007

Joel Spolsky has a great post on his blog at the moment -part of it reads:

“Now, there are various ways to get in trouble. If you don’t like writing functional specifications or doing up-front design, what happens is that you’re burdening the design phase with the development phase. If you ever started a new project by writing code, and you thought you’d “design as you went along,” what you’re doing is driving around with the handbrakes on. Here’s why. Designing a feature by writing a thoughtful spec takes about 1/10th as much time as writing the code for that feature—or less. If you try to code as you design, then you’re interrupting your short spurts of design with long spurts of coding. Now, if you’re the kind of person who designs everything perfectly the first time, that’s fine. But I don’t think you are. I think that your first designs are pretty good, but when you see them, you get ideas for even better designs. And if you already coded up the first draft, bad design, well, that’s coding time wasted. Your product’s design can only get better at 1/10th the speed that my product’s design can.”

I couldn’t agree more with the above, yet so often web systems are developed by coding after just talking to someone about an idea or “go off and do that will you” (that being a sketch on the back of a beer mat). Its refreshing that I am currently writing a specification for a web system (for the first time in what feels like ages)…

Joel on Software is one of the sites I visit on a regular basis – its very informative on software development issues and often very funny – give it a read sometime.



September 02, 2007
Filed Under (PHP, Web Development) by Ollie Cronk on 02-09-2007

If there is one tool that has revolutionised how I develop (or more specifially investigate/re-engineer and analyse) web sites and applications its got to be Firebug: http://www.getfirebug.com/

Its great for those situations when you come across a site and think – how did they do that?! Clicking on the firebug utility (a green tick in the bottom right of firefox – once you’ve enabled it) and getting it to inspect the page soon reveals all!

Firebug Screenshot 1

Its also really handy for CSS – borders and spacing are visually displayed:

Firebug - DOM view

Recently I found a great little video on debugging AJAX applications with Firebug and the Zend Debugger which looks really useful. The Zend Debugger is another great PHP development tool which works really well if you have the Zend Studio IDE – when I find some more time I may well blog about that too!

Update – I discovered Yslow today – http://developer.yahoo.com/yslow/ – a plugin for Firebug that gives tips on Web site performance – pretty nifty.



July 19, 2007
Filed Under (Ubuntu, Web Development) by Ollie Cronk on 19-07-2007

2 word summary = Works well! -Here’s a picture of one of the boxes I got in for work recently:

HP Proliant DL385 Server

Thought I’d share a few notes…

Firstly these don’t appear to ship with Optical drives as standard as (after talking to my friend who works at HP) most large customers use network based deployment systems to install the OS.

Not an issue though – just get hold of a USB CD or DVD drive to do the install from. Once I got hold of one of those everything just worked. RAID (using very flashy 2.5″ SAS drives), Ethernet everything – so thought I’d document that as when I ordered not much came up on a Google search for this specific model. And is working well after 3 months of use as a LAMP and SVN server.

Currently we are using 2 in my dev team – one for Wiki and SVN and another to host our LAMP Development work on a central box – Apache 2.2, MySQL 5.0 and PHP 5.2 – having a central development box really helps when working together (I will write an article on that in due course!).

The iLO feature on these boxes is quite cool too – for those of you that don’t know iLO (Integrated Lights out) is basically a mini server inside the server that has its own Ethernet network connection – you can use a web based interface to boot, reboot or even install an Operating System – if you have the relevant HP software). Very handy – particularly when the server isn’t in the same area as you!

At 7city we ordered IBM xSeries servers for LAMP use but those generally needed a little bit of fiddling to work on Linux (an X336 required a Kernel parameter so it would shutdown/reboot properly) none of that needed with these HPs – they just work – very impressed.