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Developing For The Web
 

Developing For The Web

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Developing for the Web: Presented by Aleem Bawany at PASHA Career Expo 2008.

Developing for the Web: Presented by Aleem Bawany at PASHA Career Expo 2008.

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Developing For The Web Developing For The Web Presentation Transcript

  • Developing for the Web Aleem Bawany July 20, 2008 P@SHA Career Expo, Marriot Karachi [email_address]
  • Outline
    • Development Methodologies
      • Always beta; Iterative design; Top down design; Tools & APIs.
    • AJAX
      • Intro; Selling points; Good practices
    • Performance
      • Caching; GZIP; Images etc
    • Usability
      • Basic usability guidelines to adhere to
  • Development Methodologies: Always Beta
    • Develop early
    • Deploy early
    • Fail fast and cheap
    • Get early feedback
    • Benchmark performance
  • Develop Early…
    • Don’t go out building a ship, build a boat first.
    • Web dev is cheap . Cheaper to fix bugs, cheaper to deploy, cheaper to prototype, cheaper to test. Bigger community, more tools, more source code.
    • If windows finds a bug, it has to ship a patch to millions of PCs. It’s cheaper to spend a month testing the hell out of it than to find a bug later. Hence the waterfall cycle and release scheduling.
    • Gmail has fixed bugs in under 24 hours! That’s fast turnaround .
    • Simplicity is beauty. Occam’s razor : Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
  • … and Deploy Early
    • Doesn’t mean you deploy a half baked design.
    • Target a quicker launch. Features can come later. Deliver a strong core product now.
    • You get early feedback . User feedback is a great motivator and provides insight.
    • You can measure conversions & metrics early.
    • Fail fast . Failing fast is failing cheaply. If your drag and drop widget layout gets a poor response, focus on higher yield features. If it gets a good response, offer more customization features.
  • DE & DE: Wrap-up
    • Get things done economically .
    • Don’t neglect scale and performance.
    • What if initial design can’t scale? It’s a sign of success. Good problem to have. Continually outgrow yourself. Besides, designing for a million daily hits is diff from designing for 10K.
    • Exceeding personal expectations is healthy . Realizing time spent was not worth it is a bummer.
  • User Centric Design
    • Developers like to focus on the architecture and neglect the user.
    • Developers aren’t user friendly.
    • Linux is developer oriented. Great for students & techies but lousy for everyone else (lawyers, chemists, parents, accountants)
    • Apple, Microsoft spend millions on usability studies (v-buffer, icon shadows, infinite edges etc). Users first, databases later.
    • Not a stipulation but please be considerate .
    • “ Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clark
  • Why AJAX
    • The web has been longing for it. Why refresh/repaint the whole interface if the user wants to delete a single line (e.g. delete mail in GMail).
    • A synchronous overcomes the screen refresh problem .
    • JA vascript over comes screen repaint problem . DOM updates small bits of UI on the fly. JS also facilitates async plumbing.
    • X ML enables data interchange. Being taken over by JSON (more later)
  • AJAX History
    • Netscape introduced LiveScript later named JavaScript (SUN + NS)
    • XMLHttpRequest was released as part of IE 5 (Mar, 1999). Originally developed for Outlook Web Access 2000: var xmlhttp = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP");
    • Freed JS to talk to the outside world
    • GMail and Google Maps brought this to the masses
    • Came to be labelled as AJAX and gained notoriety and gave rise to a new breed of web apps
    • Neat hacks prior to XMLHttpRequest: Progressively rendered GIF/iFrames to achieve similar affect?
  • The X in AJAX
    • XML used as data interchange
    • XML to manage and manipulate data
    • Early demos used JS to render XML as HTML formatted pages
    • XHTML allowed the DOM to be predictable and proper
    • JSON is now preferred for many scenarios
    • JSON is intuitive and fast. Can pass objects between PHP/ASP/etc and JS
    • XML has overheads: parsing, validating, converting to object, updating in-memory XML Tree and converting back to XML string
    • Working with Person object simpler than an XML representation
  • AJAX is fast
    • AJAX requests are small. Can updates a single line instead of the whole page. Granular updates .
    • The bigger the page, higher the performance gain.
  • Leads to better design
    • Leads to better design. Server/Client decoupling . Web Services model.
    • RESTful architecture simply works ( GET/POST/PUT over HTTP ). No firewall issues etc.
    • Promotes good API design . GMail has a great web API. Works cross-platform : to GTalk (Desktop client), Google ig (Web), iPhone (OS X gadget), etc.
    • Has led to a lot of cross-browser libraries/APIs: Prototype, JQuery, MooTools, Dojo, Scriptaculous (use transitions/animations sparingly).
    • Fewer HTTP connections to server to download js/css only once.
  • Limitations
    • AJAX request limited to current domain (just like cookies) to avoid security hacks
    • Dynamically rendered/updated pages have no browser history or bookmarking . Can be worked around using URL fragments # which update URL without refreshing the page)
    • Web Crawlers cannot get to content (neither can email harvesters)
  • AJAX Demo
    • Simple server/client (client.php, script.js)
    • JSON (emails.php, scriptc.js)
    • Prototype.js (Protoclient.js)
  • Performance (big ones)
    • Use GZIP Compression
      • .htaccess, ASP/PHP
      • The web is mostly text data which is great for compression
    • Smart Caching
      • Leverage client caching (HTTP expires header)
      • Use cached HTML instead of re-rendering ASP/PHP pages
    • If you aren’t doing these two and focusing on other optimizations, you may want to reconsider
  • Performance
    • Be wary of JS memory leaks
    • Preloading images in the background (flickr). Performance is client oriented (even though image may never be loaded).
    • Using caching and expiration smartly (set expire 10 years ahead to utilize client caching)
    • Be wary of load order of page elements. Load content first then focus on loading advertisements etc. Again, user-centric design.
    • Optimize Images (JPEG quality, GIF color palette). Use Progressive rendering. Break up large images into multiple images (allows parallel loading)
  • Usability
    • Inverse pyramid writing style. Conclusion of article first, details later
    • Page above screen fold (no scrolling required) is prime real estate
    • Use live bread crumbs (live meaning they can be clicked)
    • Keep the information hierarchical and menus nested (organized navigation will automatically promote organized design)
    • Users should know where they are, how they got there and where they can go from here. Give users context .
    • Be wary of fonts faces, good use of white space, long lines
    • User friendly errors (users don’t understand .NET or SQL errors)
  • Wrap Up
    • Rethink the way you are developing web apps and target quick a launch
    • Design should be user-centric
    • Start using AJAX
    • Evaluate and adopt a library (prototype.js). Build APIs
    • Start using compression ( GZIP )
    • Use smarter Caching
  • Thank you
    • Contact me at [email_address]
    • Slides will be sent via email
    • Please provide your email addresses. We won’t send more than 2 emails to you asking you if you are interested in continuing the discussion