Hugoware

The product of a web developer with a little too much caffeine

Archive for the ‘General Discussions’ Category

jsshell 3.0

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This weekend I finished up an upgrade for jsshell to version 3.0. I also put together a new jsshell landing page to help users get started.

New Stuff In 3.0

  1. jQuery and jLinq Upgrade: Both libraries have been upgraded to their newest versions. jQuery 1.4.4 and jQuery UI 1.8.7. jLinq has been upgraded to 3.0.2.
  2. Auto Complete: Previously, jsshell would show css classes, IDs and tags that were on the page as a ‘auto-suggest” popup but you couldn’t select anything on the list. Now, jsshell allows you use TAB to select the currently highlighted item. You can use up and down to change the highlighted item.
  3. More Auto Complete Sources: jsshell now shows suggestions for jQuery and jLinq commands, current IDs, tag names and css classes on the page and now some Javascript keywords and common CSS properties.
  4. Remember Last Command: jsshell now remembers the last successfully executed command. If you browse to a new page or refresh the view, the last command you ran will still be waiting for you.
  5. Access ‘file:///’ URL: Previously, Google denied the app from being released because it had access to the file URL. It seems they have changed the way this rule is handled so this version now includes the local file url.
  6. A ‘Run’ Button – Finally…: The only way to run commands before was to press CTRL+Enter. Now there is a button that does the same thing.

Special thanks to @stevehebert for his great suggestions on improvements for jsshell.

Please feel free to let me know if anything isn’t behaving as expected.

Written by hugoware

December 20, 2010 at 1:01 am

Teaching Software Development With Games

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Since an early age I was always interested in doing game development. I’ve made several efforts at developing games doing both the art and the code. I can honestly say that it was my interest in games that led me to become a software developer as a career.

Games have always been a great way to teach. You can see it applied to many different topics and to many different age groups.

So this last week I started on a project to do just that using Canvas and Javascript. The general idea behind the game is to build a better ‘bot’ to pilot your ship. The ships fight it out and the last one standing is the winner.

The logic for the ships, how they move, when they shoot, are all actually written by developers and then plug into the game.

Sounds complicated? Well that is up to the developer. In order to create a ship you only need to create a simple Javascript class.

var yourBotName = function() {
    
    //a visual name for your bot
    this.name = "Display name";

    //the preferred weapons for your bot
    this.weapons = ["lazer", "burst", "tracker"];

    // a method to update your bot
    this.update = function(gameState, botState) {
        //do something here
    };
};

And there you have it! Your bot is ready to go!

The developer is passed game and bot state information that they can use to determine how to behave. This means a developer can write their code to behave anyway they like. That means if you write good code then your bot will do great – if you write bad code (the kind that causes exceptions or tries to cheat) then your bot is penalized.

I have some more work to do to get the game in a web ready format (meaning people can upload their own bots, challenge others, etc…). But so far the game is coming along great.

Below is a quick video showing how the game works and what you can expect. Enjoy!

[Watch the preview video]

Written by hugoware

October 31, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Campfire, Google Chrome and Extensions

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If you’ve never heard of them before, there is this little company called ’37 Signals’… they made a couple mildly popular products one of which is called Campfire.

Campfire has a really neat chat client you can use to collaborate with other team members. It even comes with some pretty handy features such as uploading files or tracking (and searching) chat history… and it all works even when you aren’t online.

That said, as neat as Campfire is – it is still a website so some of its functionality is a bit limited. For example, desktop notifications. Of course there could be stuff out there but I haven’t checked.

So with a bit of tinkering I came up with a handy little Chrome Extension to do the job.

You can click the image above or this link to install the Extension.

Chrome is especially useful with the Application Shortcuts feature. I use it in a variety of places like Grooveshark or Toggl so naturally Campfire chat fits in perfectly.

Anyways, if you use Campfire and Chrome then this might be a handy extension for you!

Written by hugoware

October 19, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Waiter, There Is Some jQuery In My jLinq…

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jLinq occasionally gets confused as a plug-in for jQuery. Unfortunately, jLinq doesn’t do much to help performing queries in jLinq. I’ve written some extension methods before to help link the two together but they were packaged with other projects (and not really ever released)

So this weekend I put together a few helpful extension methods and released them on GitHub.

Naturally, you’ll need the core jLinq library and the jLinq.jQuery library along with jQuery. Since a lot of jQuery uses chained methods you’ll need to use the special invoke syntax for jLinq queries (just an array).

Here are some of the commands you can use.

  • jlinq.$([selector]) : Starts a new query from document.body with the starting selector (if any).
  • $(selector).query([selector]) : Starts a new query from the current jQuery object. Allows an optional selector.
  • .include(selector, [jQuery Object]) : Includes the matches of the provided selector into the current query. You can use a different jQuery object as the source (otherwise it defaults to the object that started the query).
  • .get([selector]) : Converts the current matches in the query to a jQuery object. Allows an optional selector to further filter the results.

Just as a reminder, in order to invoke methods within a query you need to use an array where the first value is the name of the method and following values are the arguments. These arguments are all where the field name would normally be. Here are a few examples in case you need them.


//Example 1: Non-method query
jlinq.from(data).contains(
    "fieldName", //the field to pull the value from
    "check for this" //the argument for contains
    );

// Example 2 : No arguments
// function test() { ... }
jlinq.from(data).contains(
    ["test"], //no arguments, but still an invoke
    "check for this" //the argument for contains
    );

// Example 3 : With arguments
// function test(arg1, arg2) { ... }
jlinq.from(data).contains(
    ["test", 33, false], //the method with arguments
    "check for this" //the argument for contains
    );

So what do these new methods look like? Well here are a few examples to get you started!


//finds all .result elements containing red or green
//and is also case-insensitive
jlinq.$("div.results")
    .contains(["text"], "red")
    .or("green")
    .get()
    .appendTo(document.body);

//finds all links pointing to MP3 files then sorts and styles them
var mp3Links = jlinq.$("a")
    .endsWith(["attr","href"], ".mp3")
    .sort(["text"])
    .get()
    .css({
        color:"#f00",
        fontWeight:"bold"
    });

//highlights all of the matching markup with 'Joe Smith'
$("div.result").query()
    .contains(["html"], "Joe Smith")
    .each(function(rec) { 
        var markup = rec.html()
            .replace(/Joe Smith/g, 
                "<span class='highlight'>Joe Smith</span>");
        rec.html(markup); 
        });

Now you can enjoy the awesomeness of jQuery along with the semi-usefulness of jLinq! You have access to ‘or’-ing, case insensitivity, sorting — It is all there!

This code is all brand new so I don’t recommend using it anywhere important just yet, but it is fun to see how jLinq can make queries a little bit easier.

Written by hugoware

September 26, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Getting Organized With Toggl

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I’ve been really busy the past few weeks trying to get ready for my new job and wrapping up projects at my previous job — needless to say free time has been pretty limited.

Up until now I’ve managed my time and projects using ‘The Notepad System’… or basically I just write stuff down, get it done and then check it off… not really something that is going to cut it going forward. Having personal projects, work projects and contract work all being merged into a single list is going to quickly get out of control.

My solution? Toggl!

This, my friends, is a masterpiece of web design and functionality. The devs (and designers) at Toggl have done an incredible job at taking something difficult like time tracking and making it not only super simple… but also hosted on the web!

Toggl makes it simple to create multiple clients, projects and tasks and manage time for each of them. Even better, if you try to enter the name of a client or project that doesn’t exist, it will create it for you on the fly! Every action seems to have been streamlined so that it doesn’t interfere with you doing your actual work!

Tracking time spent on tasks can be handled using the menu on the right hand side by simply clicking the red button (you can even close the window and the timer keeps going). This starts the timer for that task so you know how much time is spent doing something. To take it a step further, if you start a timer for another task, Toggl automatically stops any running timers for you!

Toggl also allows you to open the timer management in a separate window called ‘Nano’ — Which works perfectly with Chrome Applications. (If you do this just make sure you point the url for your Chrome app to http://toggl.com/nano)

And to take it a step further, I wrote a script with jsshell to add some buttons to the view (of course, you can reach them in a menu but I wanted them along the top as well :)).

Toggl also works with a variety of the mobile platforms as well, which is really handy if you aren’t always sitting at a computer.

If you manage a lot of projects at the same time or just simply need to keep track of where your time is going, then I highly recommend Toggl. Signup takes almost no time at all and you get 30 days to try it for free (then it is only $5 a month after that).

I could ramble on about how awesome Toggl is but I’ve already spent 36 minutes and 26 seconds on this task – time to move on to something else!

Written by hugoware

September 19, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Interface Design For Developers – Glossy Buttons

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In this series each topic will be split into two parts – First, creating the graphics using Photoshop and normally with a screencast. The second part will be a blog post on how to use the newly created graphics in a project — normally websites.

This screencast shows how to create a glossy, reusable button with Photoshop and then make changes to the colors, text and icons it displays. We also discuss adding a reflection to buttons by using a Smart Object. Additionally, we look at how to add text and change the color of the button.

Creating Glossy Buttons

[Watch the screencast]

Resources

Below are resources for the content created in this screencast. You can use the .PSD file to get the finished Photoshop file. You can use the .PNG file to create buttons with a different art program.

[Tutorial PSD file]
[Buttons.png]
[Buttons-No-Shadow.png]

Check back for the next blog post where we discuss how to use the buttons in a website.

Is there a topic you’d like to see covered in this series? Make sure to leave a comment with your ideas!

Written by hugoware

September 6, 2010 at 12:52 am

Interface Design For Developers – Introduction

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Simple is better when it comes to design. Adding a bunch special effects doesn’t automatically make an interface element better. Good design is normally very subtle and involves very few special effects (if any at all)

See what I mean?

However, a hint of gloss or a slight reflection for an interface element can make a plain website much more attractive (no, not System.Reflection, stay with me here…).

Design Tutorials For Developers

If you’ve ever seen my personal websites then you can tell I’m interested both code and graphics. I’m more or less one of those jack of a couple trades, master of none sort of guys.

So, this series of posts we’re going to discuss both how to create attractive interface elements and how to use them in our code – a little bit of both worlds in the same post!

I’ll be using Photoshop for these tutorials but I’ll try and use concepts that apply to other art programs as well. If you don’t have Photoshop then you can download a trial version.

The Tutorials

Below are previews for the tutorials I’ll be releasing the next couple weeks. I’ll also come back and add to this list as more come out.

Shiny 'Web 2.0' style buttons with HTML and CSS

Create a simple 'Post-It' note and then write dynamic text to the image

Extend the 'Post-it' note by creating a photo frame and change the subject dynamically

These should be a good start to but if you have ideas that you’d like to see then leave a comment or send an e-mail my direction.

Written by hugoware

September 3, 2010 at 11:57 pm