Well… new for me, anyway. What a fascinating world in motion we live in:
- first there was the “pre-web”, with email BBS’es and very clunky modem links
- then came Nestcape Navigator – and the world would never be the same again
- hey, we can make the results dynamic, let’s generate pages through CGI
- and not just outgoing, we can have forms and page refreshes to interact!
- we need lots of ways to generate page variations, let’s add modules to the server
- nah, we can do better than that: let’s add PHP / Python / Ruby inside the server!
- and so the first major web explosion of the internet was born…
It took a decade, and another decade to make fast internet access mainstream, which is where we are today. There are lots and lots and LOTS of “web frameworks” in existence now, for any programming language you care about.
The second major wave of evolution came with a whole bunch of new acronyms, such as RIA and SPA. This is very much Google’s turf, and this is the technology which powers Gmail, for example. Rich and responsive interactivity. It’s going everywhere by now.
It’s hard to keep up, but as you know, I’ve picked two very active technologies for doing all my new software development: AngularJS and Node.js. Both by Google, by the way – but also both freely available as wide-open source (here and here). They’ve changed my life :)
It’s been a steep learning curve. I don’t mean just getting something going. I mean getting comfortable with it all. Understanding the idioms and quirks (there always are), and figuring out how to debug stuff (async is nasty, especially when not using promises). Can’t say I’m in the clear yet, but the fog is lifting and the fun level is rising!
I started coding HouseMon many months ago and it’s been running here for a long time now, giving me a chance to let it all sink in. The reality is: I’ve been doing it all wrong.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, by the way: ya gotta learn stuff by doin’, right?
Ok, so I’ve been using Events as the main decoupling mechanism in HouseMon, i.e. publish and subscribe inside the app. The beauty of this is that it lets you keep the functionality of the application highly modular. Each subsystem subscribes to what it is interested in, and publishes results when they are available. No need to consider who needs this, or even how many subscribers there will be for what gets published.
It sounds great, and in a way it is, but it is a bit like a loose canon: events fire all over the place, with little insight in what is going on and when. For some apps, this is probably great, but with fairly stable continuous processing flows as in a home monitoring setup, it’s more chaotic than need be. It all works fine “in the small”, i.e. when writing little modules (“Briqs” in HouseMon-speak) and adding minor drivers / decoders, but I constantly felt lost with respect to the big picture. And then there’s this nasty back pressure dilemma.
But now the pieces are starting to fall into place. I’ve figured out the “big” structure of the HouseMon application as well as the “little” inner organisation of it all.
It’s all about flow.
Three Four stories coming up – stay tuned…