Recent work – entirely non-UI focused

When I created this blog, I wanted it to be about user interfaces, CSS, and maybe a bit of client script and design. That’s what I do and what I love doing, truly it’s what I got into this business to do. My last few months, however, have been spent dealing with all sorts of other technologies that exist nowhere near the front end.

The technology I’ve been using has actually been quite fun. I’ve been dealing with the .NET Entity Framework, which is an auto-generating data access layer similar to LLBLGen or Hibernate for Java. It’s free, works very well and has saved me a heap of time on this project. There are quite a few problems with it though, namely handling of scalar stored procedures, mediocre data model updating and the usual Attach/Detach context problems that it shares with Hibernate. It could do with some “scaffold” functionality too, but I think that’s included in .NET MVC Framework.

I’vealso  been playing with .NET AJAX which works ok, though it’s not as lightweight as doing the posts to another page (or in another language, damned viewstate), it has built-in fallbacks for non-javascript users, which is exactly what you want to do when making a AAA accessible site! I’ve had exposure to iTextSharp, a .NET PDF assistant. I found it very easy to use and getting .NET to populate some PDF form fields was very easy. Having to use Adobe Acrobat Pro to make the PDFs was not as fun 🙁

I’ve also been playing with SQL database mail, SQL’s bcp function,  and fighting with Visual SourceSafe and IIS. Yes, I’m working for a client who likes Microsoft 😉

In reality, I’ve been sidelined from what I like doing because I can also do the server-side gubbins. Some days I’d rather not know how to do it, but I’ve now been a programmer for nearly 6 years (!!!) and I’ve realised that I know quite a lot about the entire process of building a system architecture that works (I know the following languages, Java, C#, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby, SQL, Objective-C, Haskell, Prolog, and lots of specific libraries like DirectX, OpenGL, jQuery).

My next project looks like it will be iPhone based, so whilst I need to brush up on my Cocoa, I may get back to doing what I love: creating beautiful, usable interfaces that improve the way we work with technology.

I’m looking to complete work on an article on “Designing for Touch” soon. Looking good so far…

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Steve Workman

Steve Workman is the Head of Web Engineering at Yell. He is also an organiser for London Web Standards is an occasional public speaker, talking about web performance and web standards

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