Tag Archive | webdev

GitHub for Windows is AWESOME!

The GitHub for Windows interface

The GitHub for Windows interface

Okay, so I’m a web developer first and foremost (it’s what pays the bills) and recently I’ve been getting a bit into version control. I tend to use Subversion and GitHub for repositories in work, with GitHub providing my personal repository. Basically I use my paid GitHub account as an emergency backup for all my WordPress client work, you know, just in case!

For anyone who doesn’t know, GitHub provides online storage for programming type work that you can write changes to once they’re made. You can do other stuff as well but it’s basic use is as a backup tool. How do you get your stuff up there? Well, you have to use a client called Git which sits on your computer and allows you to commit and push changes to the online repository.

Git is a bit of a fussy tool for people like me who work happily in a Windows environment, as it primarily provides a command line interface (called Git Bash). Don’t get me wrong, I know I should be able to type stuff in to command lines but, well, I’m lazy. So there. I’d much prefer to be clicking buttons. There is a visual interface, Git Gui, but it feels a little archaic and clunky. I took to mixing Git Bash with Git Gui to manage my personal repository.

But now, along comes GitHub for Windows, and what a revelation it is! It provides a REALLY easy to use, clean, Metro inspired interface which simplifies the process of setting up and syncing repos. All you do is put in your GitHub login details. No more setting up SSL keys, it does this for you. No need to remember SSL passwords when committing – it does this too. It will let you clone repos at the touch of a button; you can import existing local repos by dragging and dropping and it will watch all files, alerting you when something needs committing!

It’s THAT easy! I’m sure that some will scoff but, well, why isn’t everything this easy? Something like this makes what can be quite a daunting part of development very accessible to “noob” users.

Here’s that link again – give it a try!

Working with dispersed open data [CLOCK]

Okay, keeping it brief here – I’ve added a post to the CLOCK blog at Lincoln Uni. For those who don’t keep up with my posts here, I’m currently working on this project until the end of July. Go have a read up of the progress we’ve been making with regards building linked data apps and feel free to comment!

Read Working with dispersed open data on the CLOCK blog.

Javascript Slider library

One of the most common things I’m increasingly finding I have to include in websites is some sort of featured content slider. I’ve used a javascript library to add in fading content before, as well as the built in slider on the Linen theme for WordPress.

However, I thought I’d have a crack at writing my own. As I’m going to be getting into more App based development with the CLOCK project, I thought I’d take a look at some of the libraries out there to help developers rapidly build nice shiny UI’s. One of the ones that caught my attention was Scriptaculous. It’s built on the Prototype library and allows you to easily drop whizzy effects into your Javascript controllers.

Now I could sit and work through tutorials, which I kind of did, but as I realised I was grasping the theory behind this quite quickly I thought it would be best to have a go at actually building something using this. The result is a Javascript class which you can call to include a scrolling area into your web page.

I appreciate there’s other ways of doing this, using JQuery for example, and I’ll be dabbling with different versions down the line, but if you want to see the class as it stands you can grab it here, from my GitHub. There’s instructions on how to use it, as well as an example page so that you can see it in action. Don’t forget to grab the Scriptaculous libraries or it won’t work! Please feel free to comment constructively and let me know if you use it for anything!

Icon Fonts – I Wants Them…

Having worn both developer and designer hats, there’s one key difference between the two roles that becomes apparent – developers are lazy creatures! We rely on pre-existing code libraries, api’s, reusable resources; I know designers do this too, but developers moreso. I’ve started coding websites with reserved widget areas in place of things that I used to hardcode into themes, just so that they can be as flexible as possible.

One of the constant nags I have with sites is the use of icons; I’m a stickler for using as few graphics as possible in the core site theme and icons on buttons and the like tend to push the boundaries of that.

So, I was quite intrigued when I found out (just now) about using fonts as icons: http://css-tricks.com/examples/IconFont/. I’ve started dabbling with custom web fonts, specifically from the open source Google Web Fonts library, with some very interesting results. A simple change to a non-standard font can make a site pop and, from a designers point of view, can allow them more flexibility outside of the existing “safe” font library.

So, basically wingdings for web, but customisable and with all the font related CSS3 goodness that comes in tow, I’m really interested in playing with Icon Fonts. I’ve even found what looks to be quite a cost effective resource! http://keyamoon.com/icomoon/#toHome