Software developer blog

Hungarian Web Conference 2012

Last week I have attended a free conference in Budapest themed around web development. Here is a quick recap. Unfortunately the conference was held in Hungarian, so most of the resources I link to are in Hungarian.

János Pásztor described how they built up the infrastructure for a tiny start up called neticle.hu. His talk was recorded on video, and a short lecture note is available. It's a very good starting point, and contains a lot of information on tooling. The most important part for me was where he talked about configuration management: with the right tooling it can become almost automatic to add a new server to your system. Definitely worth a bookmark if you plan to start your own web based service some time in the future.

László Merklik talked about test driven JavaScript development. His point was that although one is tempted to believe that we only write the user interface in JavaScript, usually a lot more logic ends up on client side than we have bargained for. Having a decent test suite for JavaScript not only helps in developing the client side code as it does in other languages. It also provides an easy and automated checking mechanism for compatibility with any number of browsers, a challenge that doesn't even make sense in other languages.

Istvan Podor talked about an automated system he developed for managing alter tables in FaceBooks MySQL database. The fun part is, that there isn't a single alter table command in the process. Of course the system he describes addresses a lot of challenges that only come up when your database exceeds a certain size, but if you start to have problems with changing table structures at your company, it might be a good idea to go through this presentation, and look for the relevant parts in it.

Krisztián Karóczkai talked about user experience design for web applications, but I think it was more general than that. It was a set of useful principles organized around topics. The prezi is not a complete reflection of the talk, but is still a good starting point if you'd like to dive into this topic. Since the age a feature fever is over, and success today is defined by user experience I think it's one of the most important topics today. Failing to drive the users attention, overloading them with information, and distracting them are all too common mistakes smaller web start ups make. You need to know your audience, understand their needs, and target your content accordingly.

András Bártházi has talked about writing mobile applications in HTML5. The first part of his presentation was mostly about the current possibilities, challenges, pros and cons. In the second part he showed some example codes that accesses specific capabilities of mobile devices from simple JavaScript. He also showed how the new version of JavaScript supports type checked user input, which is something I've been wishing for quite a long time. (Damn me... I'm still a C++ programer at heart...) If you have an idea for a phone app, that is not resource intensive, and does not require the direct use of phone APIs, than it's worth considering to prototype the idea this way.

Sándor Kromesch dug a little deeper into the topic of cross platform mobile app development with HTML5. His presentation was more about pitfalls, trade offs and tools and was clearly based on actual experiences from several different projects. If you are already committed towards developing your on HTML5 based phone app than going through the slides is a good way to start diving into the topic.

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