All too often, I have ideas which might make a cool website or iPhone app or whatever and I know I just don't have the time to build them. I'm going to post them here in the hope that someone else might find a use for them. These ideas might already be in existence, of course. I'm not claiming they are unique in any way (although some might be).
You are free to take these ideas and do whatever you like with them. Of course, if they become amazingly successful, I could do with a bigger TV...
I think I've figured out the next break-out TV competition show: The Great British Web App
Round 1: The Microsite
Each team is presented with a PSD and a Word doc. You've got 1 hour to slice up the images, mark up the content and deploy a microsite advertising an event. The judges are harsh on anyone demoing on localhost.
Round 2: The Magazine
Using the tools, frameworks and languages of your choice, design, develop and deploy a magazine-style web site with full CMS and social media share buttons.
Teams are judged on semantic markup, SEO friendliness and accessibility audit score.
Round 3: The Masterpiece
Your chance to show off. You have 4 hours to build the shiniest, scrollbar-misusing, WebGL-heavy, experimental web masterpiece possible to match the client brief "Anything, as long as it pops!".
You only get points if it's mobile-friendly and works on IE 6.
The Winners of the Grand Finale get a copy of Dreamweaver 4 and enrolled in a Coursera course on how to retrain as a baker...
Bonus Technical challenge for the celebrity edition
Rebuild a classic HTML element using the latest web technologies - implement <marquee> using Web Components or <blink> using Web Sockets.
Seeing as both Prolog and CSS are declarative languages, I found myself wondering if it would be possible to create a mapping from one to the other. It was an interesting thought experiment that quickly found itself being turned into code.
Way back when, Prolog was actually one of the first languages I learned to program in. It had been a while since I'd last used it for anything (a chess endgame solver in high school, I think) so I looked up an online tutorial. The following example is derived from section 1.1. of Learn Prolog Now
If you think of Prolog facts as denoting true/false attributes of elements, you can consider every known item in a KnowledgeBase (KB) as a DOM Element. For example:
Is equivalent to:
<div id="mia" class="woman"></div>
You can make multiple statements about an item in the KB:
And here are the queries that could be answered by looking at the visual output:
Yes (the element with id="mia" has a yellow background)
Yes (the element with id="jody" has a solid black border)
No (the element with id="mia" does not have a solid black border)
No (there is no element with id="vincent")
No (there is no CSS style for a class '.tattooed')
Yes (the element with id="party" exists)
No (the element with id="rockConcert" does not exist)
Sure, it's all a bit silly but it was quite a fun little experiment. There are probably a few big aspects of Prolog that are unmappable but I like to think it might just be possible to create a chess endgame solver using nothing but a few thousand lines of CSS.
In my opinion, seed snacks are pretty much the perfect web dev snack: they're tasty, they're low-fat, they're vegan-friendly, they're gluten-free. I've always got a tub of some next to my monitor so, when I'm chewing over a tricky layout, I can grab a handful and chew them, too.
This repository collects some of my favourite seed recipes and I'm hoping that other web devs can clone the project, roast their own, suggest improvements and submit a pull request. If you have any other easy to make snacks (such as nut snack recipes), feel free to submit them, too.
From observation, seed eaters tend to fall into one of these categories:
Pour a few into your hand, tip them into your mouth in a oner. Good when you're in a hurry. Can lead to stray seeds falling into the keyboard.
Pour a few into your hand, stick your tongue into the pile of seeds, retract.
Stick your tongue directly into the tub of seeds. Clean, efficient, not good for sharing.
Use a spoon. Good for sharing and minimises mess. Prevents multi-tasking. Feels kind of like using your mouse to go Edit > Copy when ctrl-C is right there.
The stereotypical image of the geek - bottle of cola on one side, jumbo bag of chips on the other, little desire to do anything beyond the computer - has never really been true for the majority. We're all kinds of different people - mountain climbers, cyclists, needlepoint workers, knitters. The people that played on the football team and the ones who didn't get picked. We deserve more than just nachos.
After Twitter started announcing changes to its API usage and people started to get worried about the future of the developer eco-system, App.net appeared. It provides a streaming data-platform in much the same way Amazon provides a web hosting platform. The reason for the Twitter comparison is that one of the things you can make with it is a Twitter-like public short message system. This was, in fact, the first thing the App.net developers made to showcase the platform: Alpha although that example seems to have convinced many people that the whole point was to build a Twitter-clone instead of a service whose purpose is to stream small, discrete blocks of meta-tagged data. The community-developed API spec is an important aspect of App.net as well although feature discussions can devolve into musings on Computer Science theory a bit too easily.
For the first couple of weeks, it was fun to just hack around with the APIs, post a bit, build a little test app (disabled now that more App.net clients have push notifications). It all became much more interesting, however, when two new features were added to the platform – Machine-only posts and Well-known Annotations.
Pretty much exactly what they sound like. These are posts that are not intended to be viewed in any human-read conversation stream. They still get pushed around the network exactly the same as all other posts but to see them, you must explicitly say 'include machine-only posts' in your API calls. For developers who have been building silly toys on Twitter for a couple of years, this is fantastic. You don't need to create a separate account purely for data transfer. This can be part of your main account's data stream. I have quite a few Twitter accounts that I just use for outputs from various applications. I have one, in fact, that does nothing but list the tracks I listen to that I created for this side-project.
By classifying these as 'machine-only', they can stay associated with the user and subject to whatever privacy controls they have set in general. This makes it far easier for the user to keep control of their data and easier for the service to track accurate usage. For devs, it also means you can hack away at stuff, even if it is to be public eventually, without worrying too much about polluting the global stream with nonsense.
Annotations were part of the spec from the beginning but only implemented at the end of August. Annotation is just another word for per-post meta-data – each post has a small object attached which provides extra information. That's it.
The annotations can be up to 8192 bytes of valid JSON which is quite a lot of meta-data. Even with this, however, the usefulness is limited to per application use-cases until some standards start to appear. There's nothing to stop a popular application being the one to set the standard but for the more general cases, it is most fitting to continue with the community-led development model. This is where Well-known Annotations come in.
Well-known annotations are those attributes which are defined within the API spec. This means that the community can define a standard for 'geolocation', for example, and everyone who wants to use geolocation can use the standard to make their application's posts compatible with everybody else's.
Obviously, I'm quite into my geolocated data. I love a bit of map-based visualisation, I do. Here's a sample of jQuery that will create a post with a standard geolocation annotation:
In the same way as the machine-only posts, these annotations aren't provided on a default API request, you have to specifically ask for them to be included in the returned data. This is to make sure that the majority of use cases (public streaming, human-readable conversation) don't have to download up to 8KB of unnecessary data.
You might have noticed, the API call above had the machine-only attribute as well as the well-known geo annotation. If I wanted to create an app that would run on my phone and track my routes throughout the day, all I would need to do would be to run that $.ajax call periodically with my current geolocation. The data would be saved, distributed, streamed and could be rendered onto a map or into a KML at the end of the day. I could record hiking trails or museum tours, or share my location with someone I'm supposed to be meeting so they can find out where I'm coming from and why I'm late. That's just a couple of the single-user cases. Having a shared standard means that the potential for geo-tagged posts opens up to at least equal that of Twitter's. Heatmap-density diagrams showing areas of the most activity; global and local trends; location-based gaming. Add a 'news' annotation to geotagged posts and suddenly you've got a real-time local-news feed. Add 'traffic' and you've got community-created traffic reports.
There are so many clever things you can do with location-tagged data. I hope others are just as enthused about the possibilities as I am.