Something-driven development

Software development thoughts around Ubuntu, Python, Golang and other tools

Archive for the ‘javascript’ Category

A DerbyJS version of the TodoMVC project

with 2 comments

I’ve spent a few evenings this week implementing a derbyjs version of the Todo spec for the TodoMVC project [1] – and it was a great way to learn more about the end-to-end framework, and appreciate how neat the model-view bindings really are. Here’s a 2 minute demo showing the normal TodoMVC functionality as well as the collaborative editing which Derby brings out of the box:


It’s amazing how simple Derby’s model-view bindings enable the code to be. It’s really just two files containing the functionality:

The other files are just setup (define which queries are allowed, define the express server, and some custom style on top of the base.css from TodoMVC). Well done Nate and Brian, and the DerbyJS community (which seems to be growing quite a bit over the last few weeks)!

[1] I’ve still got a few things todo before I can submit a pull-request to get this added to TodoMVC.


Written by Michael

August 9, 2012 at 9:28 am

Posted in javascript

Tagged with ,

6 things I’m loving about derbyjs

with one comment

Over the last week or so I’ve spent a few hours learning a bit about DerbyJS – an all-in-one app framework for developing collaborative apps for the web [1]. You can read more about DerbyJS itself at, but here are six highlights that I’m excited about (text version below the video):


1. The browser reflects dev changes immediately. While developing, derbyjs automatically reflects any changes you make to styles, templates (and scripts?) as soon as you save. No need to switch windows and refresh, instead they’re pushed out to your browser(s).

2. Separation of templates (views) and controllers. Derbyjs provides a model-view-controller framework that we’ve come to expect, with Handlebars-like templates and trivial binding to any event handlers defined in your controller. Derby also provides standard conventions for file locations and bundles your files for you.

3. Model data is bound to the view – derbyjs automatically updates other parts of your templates that refer to any data which the user changes, but that’s not all…

4. Model data is synced real-time (as you type/edit) – updating the data you are changing in all browsers viewing the same page. The data just synchronises (and resolves conflicts) without me caring how. (OK, well I really do care how, but I don’t *need* to care).

5. The same code runs on both the (node) server and the browser. The code that renders a page after a server request (great for initial page load and search indexing) is one and the same code that renders pages in the browser without (necessarily) hitting the server.

6. My app works offline out of the box. That’s right – as per the demo – any changes made while offline are automatically synced back to the server and pushed out to other clients as soon as a connection is re-established.

It’s still early days for DerbyJS, but it looks very promising – opening up the doors to loads of people with great ideas for collaborative apps who don’t have the time to implement their own real-time communication or conflict resolution. Hats off to the DerbyJS team and community!

[1] After doing similar experiments in other JS frameworks (see here and here), and being faced with the work of implementing all the server-sync, sockets, authentication etc. myself, I went looking and found both meteorjs and derbyjs. You can read a good comparison of meteorjs and derbyjs by the derbyjs folk (Note: both are now MIT licensed).

Written by Michael

July 27, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Posted in javascript

My Ubuntu HTML5 App development environment

leave a comment »

After experimenting recently with the YUI 3.5.0 Application framework, I wanted to take a bit of time to see what other HTML5 app development setups were offering while answering the question: “How can I make HTML5 app development more fun on Ubuntu” – and perhaps bring some of this back to my YUI 3.5 setup.

I’m quite happy with the initial result – here’s a brief (3 minute) video overview highlighting:

  • Tests running not only in a browser but also automatically on file save without even a headless browser (with pretty Ubuntu notifications)
  • Modular code in separate files (including html templates, via requirejs and its plugins)



Things that I really like about this setup:

  • requirejs – YUI-like module definitions and dependency specification makes for very clear code. It’s an implementation of the Asynchronous Module Definition “standard” which allows me to require dependencies on my own terms, like this:
    require(["underscore", "backbone"], function(_, Backbone) {
        // In here the underscore and backbone modules are loaded and
        // assigned to _ and Backbone respectively.

    There’s some indication that YUI may also implement AMD in its loader also. RequireJS also has a built in optimiser to combine and minify all your required JS during your build step. With two plugins for RequireJS I can also use CoffeeScript instead of Javascript, and load my separate HTML templates as resources into my modules (no more stuffing them all into your index.html.

  • mocha tests running on nodejs or in the browser – as shown in the above screencast. Once configured, this made it pretty trivial to add a `make watch` command to my project which runs tests automatically (using nodejs’ V8 engine) when files change, displaying the results using Ubuntu’s built-in notification system. (Mocha already has built in growl support for Mac users, it’d be great to get similar OSD notifications built in too).

The setup wasn’t without its difficulties [1], but the effort was worth it as now I have a fun environment to start building my dream app (we’ve all got one right?) and continue learning. I think it should also be possible for me to go back and re-create this nodejs dev environment using YUI also – which I’m keen to try if someone hasn’t already done something similar – or even possibly without needing nodejs? I think the challenge for YUI will be if and when most other modules can be loaded via AMD why, as an app developer, would I want to commit to one monolithic framework release when I can cleanly pick-n-chose the specific versions of small tightly-focused modules that I need (assuming my tests pass). Or perhaps YUI will join in and begin versioning modules (and module dependencies) rather than the one complete framework so that they were available via any AMD loader – that would rock!

Thanks to James Burke (author of RequireJS) and the brunch team for their help!

[1] For those interested, things that were difficult getting this setup were:

  • Many JS libraries are not yet AMD ready (or yet giving support), which means adding shims to load them correctly (or using the use plugin in some cases). And sometimes this gets complicated (as it did for me with expect.js). I don’t know if AMD will get widespread adoption, who knows? A result of this is that many JS libraries are designed to work within the browser or node only (ie. they assume that either window or module/exports will be available globally).
  • Using the coffeescript plugin is great for looking at the code, but the errors displayed when running tests that result from  coffeescript parse errors are often hard to decipher (although I could probably use an editor plugin to check the code on save and highlight errors).
  • A recent nodejs version isn’t yet available in the ubuntu archives for Precise. It wasn’t difficult, but I had to install Node 0.6.12 to my home directory and put its bin directory on my path before I could get started.

If you want to try it out or look at the code, just make sure NodeJS 0.6.12 is available on your path and do:

tmp$ bzr branch lp:~michael.nelson/open-goal-tracker/backbone-test/
Branched 42 revisions. 
tmp$ cd backbone-test/
backbone-test$ make
backbone-test$ make test
✔ 12 tests complete (47ms)

Written by Michael

March 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Open goal tracker with jquery-mobile

with 2 comments

I had a few hours recently to try updating my Open Goal Tracker javascript client prototype to use jQuery Mobile for the UI… and wow – it is so nice, as a developer with an idea, not having to think about certain UI issues (such as a touch interface, or just basic widget design). I can see now how ugly my previous play-prototype looked. Here’s a brief demo of the jQueryMobile version (sorry for the mumbling):


That’s using jQuery Mobile 1.01 for the UI and YUI 3.5.0PR2 for the MVC client-side framework, although I’m tempted to move over to backbone.js (which is what the YUI application framework is based on, it seems). Backbone.js has beautifully annotated source and a book – Developing backbone applications – which so far seems like very worthwhile reading material.

The prototype can be played with at

Written by Michael

February 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Experimenting with YUI application framework

with one comment

I’ve been playing around wit h YUI’s new application framework over the past few weeks, basically building on the ToDo list example app, extending it for a basic interface for the Open Goal Tracker project. Here’s a 2 min demo:

I’m loving the MVC separation in the client code, separation of templates, ability to use real links for navigating within the client (which will also work when copy-n-pasted to hit the server) etc.

If anyone is interested, you can play with the code yourself:

$ bzr branch lp:~michael.nelson/open-goal-tracker/html5-client-play
$ cd html5-client-play
$ fab test

which will setup the dev environment and run the django tests… followed by

$ fab runserver

To play with the demo html5 client: http://localhost:8000/static/index.html
To run the javascript unit tests: http://localhost:8000/static/app/tests/test_models.html

or find out more about the purpose of the app with the first 2 mins of this video from a year ago outlining where i hope to go with the application: (when time permits :)).

Written by Michael

November 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Posted in javascript, yui