Web Development and Debugging Tools

3 minute read Updated

Useful development and debugging tools for web devs and front-end coders.

Following is a list of cross-browser/platform web development and debugging tools useful for client-side developers. Depending on the application, one or all of these tools can be valuable in completing work on a website front-end.

Using ES7 Decorators with Babel 6

1 minute read Published

How to use decorators in JavaScript using Babel.

I wrote this late last year and it gets, well, a lot of traffic. Why? Because it hit home with a common concern in the JS community–a path forward for decorators. It just may change the way you build React apps for the better.

Developing Web Apps on Windows with Vagrant

12 minute read Updated

How to set up a Node.js development workflow on Windows using a Linux VM.

I earlier this month I spent way too much time trying to SFTP to Ubuntu Server with Sublime Text. The purpose of the SFTP effort was to set myself up for developing modern web applications on a new Windows 8 machine I bought to play SimCity 2013. And after getting everything working I realized the SFTP method had some gremlins and the file syncing reminded me of Dreamweaver—it simply wasn’t fast enough.

Lately, unless you were running a Linux machine or had the pleasure of owning a Mac with OS X, developing modern web applications has been a bit of a kludge. Enter Vagrant.

Vagrant is a tool for building complete development environments. With an easy-to-use workflow and focus on automation, Vagrant lowers development environment setup time, increases development/production parity, and makes the “works on my machine” excuse a relic of the past.

In this article I’ll explain how to set up a development environment in Windows using a virtualized Linux box, suitable for rapid prototyping. Then I’ll take it a step further and explain how to integrate a Backbone-based application framework with Vagrant and Sublime Text, greatly increasing the speed for developing modern web applications on Windows.

Tame Async JavaScript with ES6

2 minute read Published

Tame async JavaScript with ES6 using Generators and Promises

One of the trickier parts of writing JS for the web is taming async code. Control flow abstractions for handling async JS exist but are commonly overlooked in engineering organizations, which can lead JS projects unknowingly into a labyrinth of IIFEs, through the pyramid of doom ( issue) and directly to callback hell — making code brittle and prone to breakage.

CoffeeScript for Tessel with Yeoman and Gulp

5 minute read Published

Learn how to transpile CoffeeScript to JavaScript using Yeoman and Gulp for use with the Tessel microcontroller

A few years back Sauce Labs co-founder Jason Huggins ( @hugs) was giving a talk at js.chi(), showing us how to use an Arduino to change the color of an LED based on an input. During the talk Jason suggested those interested in microcontrollers check out Pumping Station: One up on Clybourn. So I got some friends together and we went to PS1, and learned the basics of programming an Arduino. The event was a fun experience and, later that night, netted me a working Larson Scanner. Since then I’ve procured a Raspberry PI, and started tinkering with Google Coder. And now it’s time for Tessel.

The Holy Grail: Full-stack JavaScript MVC with Rendr

1 minute read Published

The quest for the Holy Grail of JavaScript revealed by Airbnb Engineering.

Spike at Airbnb just mentioned during a live TechTalk webcast that the Rendr framework they built was open sourced earlier this month: The framework leverages Node.js and Backbone.js to allow full-stack JavaScript MVC using a common set of code–greatly improving time to content, improving crawability, and reduces overall application complexity.

During the talk, Meteor and Derby were mentioned, and Mojito *sigh*. And Stitch was also mentioned, as a part of the stack they’re using. So anyway, there you have it. The Holy Grail I talked about. It’s out, but admittedly, according to Spike, not quite finished. Caveat emptor.

Amp Up CoffeeScript Coding with Sublime Text

3 minute read Published

How to add syntax highlighting for CoffeeScript to the Sublime Text editor.

Sublime Text with CoffeeScript is a JavaScript developer’s dream, but one that doesn’t evaporate in the fog of sleep shortly after waking. After learning about Sublime Text at Fluent Conf 2012 during a plenary talk from Paul Irish, I immediately began looking for ways to incorporate it into my workflow. And now, after having used it for over 8 months in my day-to-day work, I wanted to share a quick primer for those who want to amp up CoffeeScript coding with Sublime Text too.

Touch Events and Mobile Web App Usability

3 minute read Published

Why PPKs “Stick with click” may not be the best advice in all situations.

I recently heard a talk from Peter-Paul Koch of QuirksMode on the touch events in mobile at the office in Chicago. During his presentation PPK gave us a great sound bite to use when dealing with the 300ms delay many touch devices use for capturing double-tap (zoom) events:

Stick with click.

Peter-Paul Koch

Under stick with click devs are discouraged from hijacking ontouchstart to make click events occur without noticeable delay. And though a good rule of thumb I view it as more of a best practice than a hard-and-fast rule.

Here’s why…

Switching from Firebug to Chrome Dev Tools

1 minute read Published

Video from Paul Irish on developer accordances in Chrome Dev tools.

Here’s the presentation given at Google I/O this year by Paul Irish and Pavel Feldman that got me to switch to Chrome Developer Tools promptly after watching. If you’re a front-end web developer and haven’t seen this yet take a look. It just may change the way you work.

HTML5 Cross Browser Polyfills

1 minute read Published

Recently ran across this impressive list of HTML5 cross-browser shim/polyfills on GitHub on the Modernizer Wiki. A perfect excuse to try out the Link format in the WordPress Twenty Eleven theme.

Analyzing User Agent Strings

3 minute read Published

The user agent string, a piece of data transmitted in the HTTP header during a web request, contains information valuable in determining browser type and often basic system information.

Example user agent string sent from a web browser during an HTTP request:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.0; en-US) AppleWebKit/532.5 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/ Safari/532.5

The above example, for instance, provides information such as browser and browser version, user locale (language), OS, system architecture and the layout engine used. When authoring documents for the Web, information from the user agent string can be valuable in determining how best to mark-up documents.

Getting the information is easy.