If you’ve developed for Microsoft’s SharePoint before (I’m talking about 2007 here, but this applies to WSS2 and 2010 as well) , then you’ll know that you can reach the limits of it’s functionality very quickly. This is a big problem if you’re making a zero-code solution, i.e. you have no access to Visual Studio and can’t create web parts. This is more common than you’d think, especially in large organisations that use SharePoint extensively. For this, the only choice is to use SharePoint Designer 2007 (SPD), but it’s not pleasant because, frankly, SPD sucks. I’ve not found a program that crashes as much as SPD, or that performs so poorly when presented with the most basic tasks. If you make a page that is too complex, has too many web parts, large data sources or lots of conditionals, connections and filters, it can take anywhere up to 20 minutes to perform a single action.
There’s another benefit for working this way around: your code will work on standards-compliant browsers, and any that come along in the future. This is always a good thing as you don’t know when the organisation will roll out IE8/9 to its users, nor can you always guarantee that a user will be using a IE. It’s important that sites are ready for these changes and best-practice development is maintained.
We were also joined by a man showing us a quick look at Dreamweaver CS5.5 with it’s new HTML5 features. Unfortunately, the software had a few bugs which showed up in the talk, and after being burned by the very expensive adobe software for years, the crowd didn’t take to the UI very well, which wasn’t helped by a low-res projector. Still, it looks like a big improvement over the old version, but I’ll still use Coda when on my Mac.
Rob Hawkes: multiplayer gaming in HTML5
Sketchnotes of Rob Hawkes' talk Multiplayer Gaming with HTML5
Rob is a canvas and animation guru. He’s not far out of uni and has a book out this month! He gave a new talk on multiplayer gaming, and how it was possible in HTML5.
Basically: Canvas + Websockets + a server (rob recommended Node.js) = multiplayer gaming on the web.
Rob didn’t go into much detail as to how to do all this, just talked us through the principles of what you should be doing, what you should avoid, how to prevent cheating and simple tricks to improve performance.
At the end, Rob proposed a HTML5 gaming knowledge repository, a community wiki and tutorial site, so that it’s easier for people to learn. Someone at the event will take him up on the offer, so look forward to more things soon!
Rob has a book on Foundation HTML5 Canvas: Gaming and Entertainment for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk
Sketchnotes for Creative JS visual effects – Seb Lee-Delisle
Seb then talked about performance, and how bad canvas is at the moment. DOM elements with hardware acceleration is easily twice as fast as canvas, especially on the iPad. The iPad’s saving grace is its touch screen, which can take 11 touch points (just in case we grow an extra finger). Seb created a simple asteroids game using touch events for input.
Seb finally talked about 3D and how using libraries was a great way to go from 2d to 3D very simply. He recommended Unity as a game engine and framework of choice, and they’re building HTML5 renderers on top of their regular OpenGL and DirectX methods. Exciting stuff indeed.
Recently, I’ve been working on an iPhone web app for my employer (internal, so I can’t share). I based the design and architecture around the iUI library by Joel Hewitt, which became an overnight de-facto standard for web apps. However, after a lot of playing with it and turning it inside out, I’ve found there are a number of problems which have not yet been fixed.
However, I do not believe that this is the solution to iUI’s problems. I feel that a complete re-write in a standardised library like jQuery is the solution. Who knows, I may even find time to write it 😉
So, here’s the file: iui.patched.js