Developer meeting braindump 2007-08-09

The biweekly Western Massachusetts Developers Meeting was small tonight, but still high-quality. Topics in our typically rambling discussion included:

  • Are crawlers from some search engines following links embedded in Javascript (i.e. Ajax) code? And if so, what’s the use?
  • What should Chas use for a CMS? (I don’t think any conclusion was reached; the two leading contenders seem be “build it in Django” or “just use Drupal”.) I do appreciate the argument that sometimes it’s good to think of yourself as a regular ol' “business user” rather than someone who custom-develops everything just because he can.
  • When does testing happen in your process? A range of answers here, from “before I write code” to, well, a bit later in the process.
  • XPath and XQuery are worth knowing if you touch XML
  • Various WTFs, including the company that replaced their SQL database with a single gigantic XML file because XML was, you know, magic.
  • Google searches that find embarrassing mistakes. (It’s been a while since I updated that page)
  • Another round of olde tyme computer reminiscences, prompted by my “Home Computer Handbook” from 1978. (Chris knows EBCDIC!) Have you ever heard of SLIP, GPSS, or SIMSCRIPT?
  • Another round of version-control appreciation (Subversion and svnmerge, Darcs, Mercurial)
  • Is there any OS X web design application somewhere between Coda and GoLive or Dreamweaver? I.e., not bloated, but still pleasant to use for people who need some WYSIWYG editing (my students)?
  • BBEdit: What’s still good about it? (Palettes for nontechnical users.) What’s bad about it? (Kitchen-sink approach to multiple language features.) Make no mistake, though, BBEdit was definitely cool back in the day.
  • The scriptaculous Ajax in-place editor
  • Will inaccessible (in the Section 508 sense) web pages become more widespread now that the argument against them is being reduced from “What about all the crappy browsers out there, and what about accessibility?” to “What about accessibility?”

We also agreed to try doing some lightning talks or similar short presentations at a future meeting. I think this could be very cool. Chris said he would volunteer to run the gong.

Lou commented on Fri Aug 10 12:06:07 2007:

I use RapidWeaver on my Mac for WYSIWYG web site editing. It’s very nice. I think template making might be hard (you have to support a lot of page styles to be complete), but there are so many out there and many are free.