Jeb Wilkins

Coding and climbing in Cumbria.

And There Went the Year!

Well, 2 posts in a year - I guess that shows how busy my years been. I’m now starting to count down for a xmas break, the snow’s arrived finally and I got out for some climbing on Helvellyn today, long may it last.

I’ve not had a lot of time for personal hacking but I’ve been busy with a lot of interesting tech for client projects over the last year. Its been the usual mix of PHP and Ruby. On the PHP side I returned to Joomla for a project, and was a little surprised at how little had changed - at least that made it easy to pickup.

I’ve also been using the Kohana framework, which a co worker had recommended to me some years ago. As a Rails programmer, Kohana felt pretty natural and seemed to be well thought out, and easily extensible. The last point was the real plus for me, allowing me to add tricks like standardised form builders, rendering views as PDF, etc. The only real downer was its ORM reads the database structure on every page request - eeek! Again, this can be overridden though thankfully. Another project I came across which I’d not used before was DOMpdf - a very nice PDF generation library allowing you to use HTML and CSS to create your PDFs.

On the Ruby side, I’ve been busy with a mobile site using JQuery Mobile. Integration with the ruby site was straight forward, and as ever Rails handles adding mobile views of the pages brilliantly. JQM itself left me with mixed feelings - it made it very easy to create a mobile site, and the form handling and list layouts are brilliant. You are quite limited to their styling though - custom layouts proved hard to implement. Theming again was quite restrictive, though I found a neat way of rewriting the various CSS colours using HSL (as opposed to RGB) to get the shades I wanted. The biggest concern I have with JQM is that it requires the whole of JQuery, combined they weigh in pretty heavy for a GPRS connection. This seems unnecessary and excessive if most of your audiance are on Mobile IE9, or something WebKit based (BB, iPhone, Android). A neat project for the future would be to pull the form, and possibly the list styling out into a separate library and make that run on top of Zepto.js

Looking forward to the start of next year, I’ve got some interesting work lined up with full text searching (probably using Sphinx) and possibly a location based project using Google Maps. I may even get round developing some of the products I always have knocking around in my head!