From the Dev Couch: Node.js, Facebook Open Graph, & Mutant Labs

by Dan DeMeyere - @dandemeyere

Like many others, I come across a lot of great articles and websites every week. The problem is I don't have time to give each one their fair due so I end up bookmarking them for a later read. I'd rather set aside a block of time to read each one thoroughly then skim and move on because I'm always paranoid I'll glance over something profound. Since I took the weekend off, I've been able to plow through about 30-40 of the articles in my backlog and I thought I would share a curated list of ones I think are worth your time. I've broken them out into different categories so people can skip to the topics that interest them the most.

Learning About New and Old Technology

Topic: Node.js
Link: mashable.com/2011/03/10/node-js

It seems like every week there is a new JavaScript framework coming out that will supposedly change the JavaScript landscape forever. After reading this article, Node.js might actually be that framework - but in a completely different way that I anticipated. Node is nothing like jQuery or Backbone. Node is not a client-side framework. Using the JavaScript V8 parser, Node is extremely fast, scalable, and is an event-driven programming model (not that I entirely comprehend EVP). After reading this article and multiple other Node-related articles, I can't say I still fully understand how Node.js works. I think Node is one of those technologies that you can't effectively 'learn' until you've actually played with it. The Mashable article I listed does a pretty good job talking about the background of Node and some practical applications.

Inspiring Websites

Topic: Mutant Labs
Link: mutantlabs.com

Inspirational websites really speak for themselves. I'm not a graphic designer, but I can appreciate attention to detail and mastery of a craft. Click around and I'm sure you'll see what what I'm talking about.

Cool Snippets of Code

Topic: Practical Uses of Ruby Block
Link: viget.com/extend/practical-uses-of-ruby-blocks

If you develop in Ruby, odds are you write a lot of these types of blocks - you assign an object and then wrap your block of code around an 'if object' statement. I think these are fine and they take up the same amount of code as the new way; however, I like the clean assignment and readability that the new code proposes.

Rails Gems Worth Checking Out

Topic: Facebook OpenGraph to ActiveRecord Gem
Link: github.com/rubenrails/acts_as_opengraph

So this is really cool. Facebook integration is everywhere these days. What if you were able to take a model and turn its objects into Facebook Open Graph objects? That's what acts_as_opengraph does. For example, what if you were building a blog engine or basically any type of model that has a show page that will need Facebook integrated on it. Well all you do is take the model and add the dependency like this:

Then you just integrate this into your layout and views wishing to use the Open Graph:

Hopefully you found some of these interesting as I have about 30 more articles that I'd like to post in a similar fashion in the upcoming months.

Dan DeMeyere
Ruby on Rails Developer & Front-end Engineer
dan@thredup.com

4 responses
Cool website (mutantlabs.com). One of my favorites, from the days of flash based sites, is http://2advanced.com/
2advanced.com is visually stunning, but Flash websites are like cheating in my book. I'm more impressed with HTML5/CSS3 websites as the limitations are stricter. But....for Flash websites, nothing beats Jim Carrey's website - http://jimcarrey.com/
Wow that is definitely crazy.

Flash may make it easier but it doesn't take away from the need to pay attention to detail.

Crap, can't see it on my iPhone... Must be broken. :)