This is a guest contributed article by Srirangan of Programmers Assist.
A website that I visit pretty regularly, Sitepoint.com, today published an excellent introduction for Ruby On Rails (ROR). I, like many of the web developers, have been terribly curious about this almost “magical, no fuss” web development language, hence the time was perfect for Sitepoint to come out with the article.
Danny’s article on Sitepoint gave a brief introduction, but more-so stressed and emphasized on the “ease of development” that ROR brings along.
We’ve witnessed years of almost three decades of “hero worshipping” OOP techniques in software programming, and for a brief period with the onset of PHP5, we’ve witnessed the same in the web programming sector. Now with the introduction of ROR, this can only increase .. increase exponentially.
And it is a good thing, this OOP, it is good!
Now as my interest in ROR has surely surfaced, I visit Wikipedia to see what they have to say about this new magical Utopian web programming language. And I must say the blokes at Wikipedia have done an excellent job maintaining the entry for ROR. It is definitely a must read for anybody even remotely interested.
But what really caught my eye was the Philosophy Of Ruby On Rails. It adheres to the DRY principle, Dry - Don’t Repeat Yourself. Something I yearned for in PHP/Perl/ASP/Coldfusion, but like nirvana never could find it. If ROR can ever so remotely make DRY a practical principle, I will be the first to leave all and start ‘practicing the ROR religion’.
Another defining principle of ROR is - Convention Over Configuration. Which Wikipedia graciously explains as, and I quote:
“Convention Over Configuration” means that the programmer
only needs to define configuration which is unconventional. For example, if there is a Post class in model, the corresponding table in the database is posts, but if the table is unconventional (e.g. blogposts), it must be specified manually (set_table_name “blogposts”)”
Eh, sounds not too bad for a lazy inefficient web developer like myself, does it ..
As I get all excited about ROR, I’ve finally decided to try it out on my little localhost tonight. Taking the plunge, metaphorically. I do hope ROR does live up to all this hype that its surrounded by and I’ve indulged in.
Just what in the world is this?
Quick is a scale to rate your site on, based on 5 major categories:
So what exactly is the point?
A while back, Vitamin contributor Mike Rundle (Of 9Rules, Business logs, and HiMike) wrote an interesting article titled “How C.R.A.P. Is Your Site Design“. The article explained four major points to consider when designing, that help create separation and make content stand out much more prominently.
But what about after the design process is complete? How can you keep your site afloat?
Quick is our own made up scale of questions to ask yourself after your site is live, so you can keep things going long after launch. The five elements of quick all refer to things that are necessary for site success.
The first thing to consider after getting your site up is the quality. What do we mean by quality? We’re not talking about just one thing, but numerous parts of a site. The quality of the site, its design, and its content.
Making sure you have a high quality site will ensure that visitors return. It takes a mere few seconds and a few lines of reading for visitors to decide “nothing here is worth a look”, even though that what you see on the outside is not always whats available on the inside.
Some things worth asking yourself on the basis of Quality:
As an admin, the first thing you have to do when looking at your site is put on the blindfold and act as if you’re just a regular visitor to the site.
Can you find your way around easily? Does your site function how it should?
Listen to user feedback and suggestions, because generally, users know what they’re talking about in terms of making the site easier to navigate and understand. Also, try to keep these additional factors in mind.
An always essential part to any site, regardless of what type it is, is the information behind the content. Even if all you have is a portfolio site, potential clients want to know a little about you, so it’s important to include a short biography and background to just how long you’ve been designing.
The same goes for any site. Ask yourselves these questions:
Face it, not everyone out there knows as much about the topic(s) you may be covering. It’s easy to forget that, and sometimes you leave your users confused and lost by not putting things in their terms.
Clarity is extremely important to getting visitors and more importantly - keeping them.
Code, in this case spelled with a K because we still wanted it to make it word, is the last piece of the “QUICK” puzzle.
With every site, you want to make sure your code remains clean, even after your site has been around for a while. It’s also a good practice to keep up to date with coding standards, as it will help ensure browser compatibility.
Test your site in multiple browsers to establish if there are bugs that exist. It’s always important to always weed these out, but continue to check monthly, because you never know when something bound to break.
Setup custom error pages that will lead users back to content if they encounter missing or moved pages. Don’t let your visitors be lost because of minor mistakes in code that can be avoided and fixed.
If you’ve been reading up and answering the questions we told you to ask yourself throughout this article, you should have a pretty good idea on what aspects to focus on to improve the overall chances of existence for your site. We wish you good luck with it, and hopefully these tips were worth the read.
Today i want to briefly touched on a Democracy Player project that had recently launched. I think Open source Geek out there might love this :)
Democracy is a video player of sorts, that utilizes rss feeds to extract video files from certain sites, and allows the user to download and play those files through it’s interface. Weighing in at around 17 MB, we take a look at Democracy in it’s early months.
In Democracy’s short time, it has grown and made a number of improvements. The interface features a Itunes and Songbird like appearance, in a striking black. The core of the player is designed to be easy to use, while clean at the same time, and it accomplishes that just fine.
The program starts up by loading the Channel Guide, a quick look through some of Democracy’s most popular videos of that given time. From here, you can browse the top videos, or search for your own.
By using rss, Democracy offers users the chance to subscribe to a station, allowing for the program to automatically download new videos as they are released. This turns Democracy into a TiVo of sorts, so you can sit back and let Democracy do the work.
Downloading through Democracy is also super easy. Democracy integrates Bittorrent, allowing downloads to be fast and accurate. Once a download is complete, you can head over to the “New Videos” tab to watch it for the first time, where it will then be moved to your “My Collections” tab.
Finally, you get to the goods - the chance to watch the video you just spent time downloading. One press of play, and the player enlarges the video to full screen. Usuing simple player controls (stop, pause, play, volume, etc), the video is controlled. Not overlly advanced, by gets the job done. Even videos with low quality appear to come out alright in full screen playback. A big plus.
The greatest thing of all about Democracy is it’s fully open source. Democracy is still new, and there our a lot more that has to be done before it becomes and ultimate piece of software, but it is slowly making it there, and by being open source, Democracy has the chance to excel into something great. Internet TV and Democracy will soon go hand in hand. Democracy is definitely leading a revolution.
But how to write a rule?
What are the elements and is there a difference between DIV and SPAN, CLASS and ID? Where and how do I put those styles? Are there differences between an 'embedded style' and an 'imported stylesheet'?
This section of the site is exactly for answers to those questions:
Syntax explains what a rule is, how to group selector (what's that?) or properties; the chapter about Elements introduces you to the different elements and gives you links to the properties and values of CSS; in DIV & SPAN you will learn how to use those two elements - and why; the difference between CLASS & ID actually is quite simple. The next question of course is "If I have my
defined and also the , which rule takes precedence?" The answer is in the chapter Inheritance, where the Cascade and Inheritance will be explained; the section Stylesheet will show you how to implement all those rules to a HTML document...
This 'Basics' section will give you enough knowledge to re-vamp your existing web sites and make your future web sites leaner and meaner - and will save you hours of update and maintenance time.
You could spend this time to go through the Positioning Tutorial (CSS-P) and you are ready, armed and dangerously well equipped to develop 'pure' CSS web sites...