What’s New App: project complete

01.26.2014

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The “What’s New” app is complete!  It was a great experience from start to finish, despite quite a few hindrances along the way.  If you’d like to try out the app, it’s live here: http://whatsnew.omg-productions.com.

Here are a few of my top take-aways from the project:

  • I don’t know how I used to manage writing JavaScript before Backbone & Marionette came around.  What a relief.
  • Public APIs have come a long way, and the ones I used in this project were great.  There are so many ways to take advantage of publicly available data, it’s pretty exciting.
  • As always, styling takes forever.  A library such as Twitter Bootstrap helps enormously, but even with the *very* basic styling I applied to the app, it was still one of the more time consuming aspects.
  • PHP is still great for quick and dirty projects, but for me it’s too loosely-typed for anything more complex.  All the great libraries and frameworks definitely help, and it’s at least somewhat object-oriented now, but the propensity for silly syntax errors, bad references, and the like is just too high compared to more robust sever-side programming languages.
  • Debugging PHP and mySQL is still a pain in the ass, even with phpStorm’s great integrated tools.  Silent PHP errors, vague SQL syntax errors, and configuration conflicts take up way too much time during the dev process.
  • Deployment with PHP and Linux is also a pain in the ass.  Minor differences between PHP versions and server configuration variances contribute to a host of issues, some as ancient as filename case-dependency.  I would love it if these things would work the same anywhere I deploy them, without having to muddle through hours of debugging & configuration updates.
  • A lot of the most time-consuming aspects of building a web app is boilerplate code & configuration, which means it can (and probably should) be worked into a framework or library of some sort.  CodeIgniter does a great job of keeping things simple on the back-end, and the grunt process I implemented for the front-end tasks seems to have worked pretty well, but standardizing all the boilerplate code that I used to “glue” everything together would definitely save me a ton of time for future apps.

All in all, a lot of good feedback for myself, and a lot of ideas on how I can speed this process up in the future.  If the goal is to rapidly produce quality apps, there’s still a lot of work to be done with this technology stack, but things are heading in the right direction it seems.

I’ll be posting all of my code to Github shortly for anyone that’s interested, and I’m always open to suggestions / feedback.



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