Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Jumping into JavaScript

In passing on .NET Rocks! and in blog posts, I've noticed folks whine and complain about JavaScript. I'm now starting to understand a little of what that's about :)  Now that I'm using JavaScript as my daily language, I too have stumbled on several of the language features that make in mildly difficult for a developer coming from another language to truly appreciate it.  However, I feel like to use JS effectively you have to embrace it flaws and all, and learn to have fun with the language.  I've read Douglas Crockford's JavaScript the Good Parts, but honestly I'll probably have to reread it several times before it all sinks in.

One of the things that I've noted about JavaScript is the huge number of libraries available to work with.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  On .NET Rocks! they sometimes talk about a tribe of JS frameworks, as several frameworks that work well together.  I like the concept of a witch's brew, with several JS frameworks stirred together, with a few JS incantations for good measure.  At first it all seems a little magical.

To illustrate my point, below is a table showing a few of the changes I've made in switching over to JS in my day job.

.NET - C# JS
Testing MS-Test & Moq Karma, Mocha, Sinon, Sinon-Chai, Chai-as-Promised, & Coffee Script
Ide Visual Studio webstorm, atom, & sublime - pick your poison, i use all three for different things
Build MS-Build Gulp & Webpack
Package management NuGet, & Chocolatey Bower, Node Package Manager
Frameworks WPF Angular
Declarative UI Code XAML HTML5, CSS

Many of the core concepts of front-end development are shared, MVC, MVVM, MV*, DI.  Good stuff that doesn't need to be re-learned.  The tooling and frameworks though are another matter.  The upside of the current JS world is the enormous amount of flexibility, the downside is the complexity and the learning curve to become productive.  Honestly, .NET keeps programmers fairly constrained to world of standard libraries, strongly typed code, and compile time error checks.  Stepping outside that world can be a little scary.

Microsoft has embraced the current development landscape of JS and is bringing more JS tooling into Visual Studio 2015.  I'm hopeful that the new tooling in VS2015 will make it the development platform of choice over Sublime, Atom or WebStorm.  Microsoft is really good at reducing the friction in the development experience, here's hoping they get it right for JavaScript!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

New Job

At the beginning of February I started working at ARI in Duluth MN.  Due to my work change I haven't had much time to blog.  I hope to make up for that in the near future.  My time has instead been dedicated to learning lots of new things as I spool up at work.  

Overall, I enjoyed my previous position where I worked mainly with .NET doing front end work with C# and XAML.  I was part of a very small team, creating custom lots of small custom desktop apps.  However, to grow we often need to leave our comfort zone.  In my new position I'm working as part of a mid-sized development team, on a very large web application.  Parts of it are written in ASP.NET using Web Forms, while new portions of the application are written using AngularJs.  I was given a choice of what I wanted to focus on when I started and I jumped at the chance to work on front end web development.  

After a little over a month on the job, I'm enjoying the challenge and learning lots along the way.  In the next few months I hope to share some of things I've noticed in switching from full time .NET development to JavaScript.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

f.lux

There are more nights than I care to admit where I find myself burning the midnight oil...eyes watering from staring at my computer screen and endless amounts of code.  F.lux is a handy utility that changes the color temperature of the screen with sunset and sunrise.  It took a while to get used to the screen dimming down, but after a few weeks of use, it was unnoticeable.  That was until I switched to a different computer that didn't have f.lux installed and noticed that my eyes were hurting in the evenings.

Check it out:  https://justgetflux.com/