Pigs in namespaaaace

When you’re working on a JavaScript (JS) app you’ll create loads of functions and variables. By default in JS, there is no namespacing so everything you declare is effectively in the global namespace. This can lead to issues where two or more functions or variables can easily be called the same thing and create conflicts. Take this example:

function pigs() {
  console.log("Pigs in space");
}

function pigsDance() {
  console.log("Pigs dancing in space");
}

function pigs() {
  console.log("Pigs in Mexico");
}

pigs();

The output of this will be “Pigs in Mexico”. To avoid collisions like this we can use an object to create a namespace. So reworking our above example:

var space(){
  function pigs() {
    console.log("Pigs in space");
  }
  function pigsDance() {
    console.log("Pigs dancing in space");
  }
}

function pigs() {
  console.log("Pigs in Mexico");
}

space.pigs();

This will return “Pigs in space”. By creating the object and making “pigs()” and “pigsDancing()” properties of that object, we isolate them from the global namespace that “pigs()” lives in.

This way, when we need our pigs in space, that’s exactly where they will be.

Atom snippets

One of the things I love about modern text editors is code snippets. Coding tends to involve repetition, code snippets can really help cut down on needless typing.

I group all my code snippets by prefixing them with “my”. That way to view all my snippets I just start typing “my” and Atom shows all my snippets for the specific file type I’m currently working on.

Some simple examples I use quite often are:

myHTML – My own HTML boilerplate

<!DOCTYPE html>
  <html lang="en">

  <head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="ie=edge">
    <title></title>
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" media="screen" href="assets/css/style.css" />
  </head>

  <body>
  
  <script type="text/javascript" src="assets/js/script.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
  </body>

  </html>

myjQuery – Inserts jQuery using their CDN

<script src="https://code.jquery.com/jquery-3.3.1.min.js"   integrity="sha256-FgpCb/KJQlLNfOu91ta32o/NMZxltwRo8QtmkMRdAu8="   crossorigin="anonymous"></script>

myFontAwesome – Inserts font awesome using their CDN

<link rel="stylesheet" href="https://use.fontawesome.com/releases/v5.7.2/css/all.css" integrity="sha384-fnmOCqbTlWIlj8LyTjo7mOUStjsKC4pOpQbqyi7RrhN7udi9RwhKkMHpvLbHG9Sr" crossorigin="anonymous">

myLog – inserts a console.log() to help debug my JavaScript

console.log()

Getting all this working in Atom is a fairly easy affair. I found the below video by Hitesh Choudhary super useful.

Selection

One thing I notice about jQuery is how it simplifies common tasks. A good example is something you do all the time with JavaScript, select DOM elements. In JavaScript selecting all li elements would look something like this:

document.querySelectorAll( "li" );

The same selection using jQuery is like this:

$("li")

At this stage of my learning, I can’t say I see the above as a major advantage. Yes, it’s shorter but you could argue it’s also less descriptive for the reader. Brevity isn’t always a net win in code. This is especially true when tools like Emmet and other text editor tricks auto-complete a lot of code. So it’s not 100% clear to me what the advantage is.

It will be interesting as my jQuery knowledge grows if my feelings toward it change. At this early stage, I can’t help feeling sceptical. Especially when I keep hearing about frameworks like Angular and React. I guess we will see.

Survey says

Today I was reading the 2018 stack overflow developer survey and boy was it an interesting read. There are loads of insights into the current state of software development.

For example, JavaScript continues to grow in dominance. If you’re working on the web and you’re not learning JavaScript you need to start yesterday. It’s been clear for a few years now that JS is the direction the web development is going, but I don’t think I’d quite realised how much that was the case. 71.5% of all professional developers are now using it in some form. That’s huge!

Another surprise to me is the popularity of various text editors. VS Code has really risen to the top in a short space of time. To my horror Notepad++ (of all things) is the 3rd most popular app. Sublime text somehow trails behind it in 4th place and my beloved Atom is 8th!

With over 100,000 developers participating in the survey, it really is quite a rich resource. Did anything surprise you in the results?

Emmet!

Whatever your text editor of choice (I just can’t quit you Atom) there is a wide range of plugins to enhance its capabilities. One such plugin that I use constantly is Emmet.

Emmet can be used for a number of things, but where it really shines is speeding up my HTML production. Emmet uses a CSS like syntax to quickly produce common HTML code.

The most common situations I find myself using it is when I initially create an HTML document. To do this you just type “!” and hit tab. The result will be:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">

<head>
  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
  <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="ie=edge">
  <title>Document</title>
</head>

<body>

</body>

</html>

Perhaps most useful of all is adding repetitive blocks of HTML like lists. Just type “ul>li.lego{Awesome}*10” then hit tab and you’ll get:

<ul>
  <li class="lego">Awesome</li>
  <li class="lego">Awesome</li>
  <li class="lego">Awesome</li>
  <li class="lego">Awesome</li>
  <li class="lego">Awesome</li>
  <li class="lego">Awesome</li>
  <li class="lego">Awesome</li>
  <li class="lego">Awesome</li>
  <li class="lego">Awesome</li>
  <li class="lego">Awesome</li>
</ul>

Or you can get super fancy and nest all sorts of things. Give something like this a go. Type “div.awesome>(header>ul>li.item$*5>a{Awesome thing $})+footer>p{Awesome}” and hit tab. Boom you get:

<div class="awesome">
  <header>
    <ul>
      <li class="item1"><a href="">Awesome thing 1</a></li>
      <li class="item2"><a href="">Awesome thing 2</a></li>
      <li class="item3"><a href="">Awesome thing 3</a></li>
      <li class="item4"><a href="">Awesome thing 4</a></li>
      <li class="item5"><a href="">Awesome thing 5</a></li>
    </ul>
  </header>
  <footer>
    <p>Awesome</p>
  </footer>
</div>

As you can see, once you learn the basic structure, everything is awesome with Emmet.

Hex

Just a quick post to say I’ve updated the colour game with a new mode, Hex colours. To enable different modes I’ve changed a little bit of the UI. So the difficulty is now a dropdown making room for a matching mode dropdown. The beauty of this is I can add other modes (CMYK for example) without to much UI fuss.

Screen shot of the new UI

To give this new model a try, just select Hex from that dropdown and the board will refresh. As always you can play the game and/or check out the code, which ever tickels your fancy.

Halfwa​​y

Just now I’ve put the finishing touches on “The Great RGB Colour Game” thereby passing the halfway point of my web dev bootcamp. You can take a look at the code on GitHub.

The “final” release of my version of the great RGB colour game.

So far the course has covered HTML, CSS, Bootstrap 3 and 4, and my personal favourite so far, JavaScript. JavaScript really seems to be where it’s at on the web these days. I wouldn’t have predicted that 10 years ago.

The great thing about it, is it’s one language that can do basically everything from the front end, to the server side, to the database. It means any investment in learning it gives incredible flexibility to the developer.

I’m really happy with my progress so far. It’s been really great getting my hands “back on the tools” so to speak. Next up is jQuery, which I have used a little bit before. Now that I have a better grounding in vanilla JavaScript I think I’ll have a much better foundation this time around.

Onward to glory!

RGB Colour Game UI update

Tonight I got a bit of time to work on a new version of RGB colour game. This time I focused mostly on UI improvements so the game looks a little nicer than the first release. I’m particularly fond of the subtle CSS transition when you click on an incorrect colour. Little touches like this are what make a UI a bit loveable.

I’ve updated the code on both the GitHub repo and the live app site, so take a look. As always, if you have a feature request, a bug to report, or you’d like to contribute some code, you’re always welcome.

Maintaining an open-source project

This morning I read a short article on the maintainer of GitHub desktop, William Shepherd. For some reason, I kept seeing the article everywhere so eventually I surrendered to it. The post had a number of good points but the highlight for me was the advice to anyone maintaining an open-source project:

  • Have a clear vision of what you’d like your project to accomplish and be open to refining it when it makes sense
  • Have a detailed README that includes information on how to contribute to the project, submit bug reports, and a code of conduct
  • Work hard to make your project inclusive of all people from the start
  • Make your project easy to implement by eliminating the amount of work potential contributors have to do to build and run your project
  • Don’t put the needs of your project ahead of your own

You can read the full article on GitHub’s blog.


I made a thing – Colour Game

I made another thing in JavaScript as part of the course I’m doing. This time it’s a simple colour picker game. The code is still very rough but the app is effectivly working. If you want to see it in action you can play the current version.

The idea of the game is the player is presented with up to six coloured squares and an RGB value. They player then has to pick the square that matches the RGB value. There’s an easy (3 colours) and hard (6 colours) mode too, so you can vary the challenge of the game.

If you’re interested in the code (which is currently terrible) or you’d like to report a bug, take a look at the projects GitHub page.