Rick Hurst Web Developer in Bristol, UK


Brain dump January 2013

I haven’t posted to this blog much recently, so I thought i’d set myself a new routine of blogging at least at the end of each month to record some thoughts and links.

Firstly, as of Jan 1st i’ve been Freelance again – towards the end of last year while working full time at Potato, I got a bad case of freelancers itch, and felt that I wanted to make more time for working on other business ventures. When a three-month contract as a mobile web application developer at ISM games came up, I jumped at it. This time round i’m going to try my hardest to not end up juggling client and contract work, and to make sure that I free up time to pursue other things, either between contracts or by landing part-time contract work down the line. The important thing is that i’ve thoroughly learnt from the mistakes I made during my last stint as a freelancer!

Technology-wise i’ve been really enjoying cutting my teeth in proper “single-page” web app development using JavaScript, Backbone.js, Marionette and jQuery mobile. As an advocate of Progressive Enhancement, it’s a bit of a departure for me to be building JavaScript-only apps, but with the application logic mostly on the client side, to make it function without JavaScript really would mean building the application twice. The only compromise approach that i’m aware of is this approach used by airbnb, where JavaScript is used both server and client side, so HTML can be pre-rendered using the same templates on both sides, and application logic can also be shared (to an extent). It is also becoming increasingly clear that JavaScript-only apps needn’t be inaccessible, with screen readers apparently supporting javascript. I haven’t tried any of these, so i’m sure there’s plenty to learn in that area.

I’m also now “getting” the whole mobile-first approach for building web apps, in part due to having to go back to my old Nokia N95 for a while when I had to give back my company Android phone when I left my day job. No, I didn’t use any web apps on the Nokia – it was just too painful to even try to get logged into gmail, but not having access to a smartphone, and not being able to use mobile-only apps such Instagram, reminded me that web apps are primarily being used on smartphones and tablets, and this trend will only increase. Getting these mobile web apps working well, and then adding in additional stuff (only where needed) for people using them on desktop is the right approach, rather than the whole “squash and hide” approach used in responsive websites to scale down from desktop to mobile.

Apart from that, i’m all about Python and Django still – The back end of the web app i’m building uses Django rest framework and I have some personal/ business projects in the pipeline using those.

Lastly, i’ve really been enjoying blogging on my on the road blog, particularly writing about non-web related stuff, such as VW T25 campervans 🙂