September – Week 1

Ryan’s wife: Why can’t a machine understand a normal web page?

Ryan: Because web pages are designed to be understood by people. A machine doesn’t care about layout and styling. Machines basically just need the data. Ideally, every URL would have a human readable and a machine readable representation. When a machine GETs the resource, it will ask for the machine readable one. When a browser GETs a resource for a human, it will ask for the human readable one.

– Ryan Tomayko: How I Explained REST to My Wife

(I highly recommend reading the above article, it’s a nice introduction as to what will follow this week.)

It seems there’s a great deal of tussle about which framework is better, to clarify, I’m referring to the JavaScript MVC frameworks; Backbone.js, Angular.js and Ember.js – in fact there’s too many to list and apologies if I’ve missed your fanboy favorite. We’re garden variety beginners, who, still hungover from celebrating our dynamic quiz victory, (courtesy of “Learn JS properly” – and if you haven’t finished that course…what are you waiting for! Get back there and do it.) we’ve climbed back on the horse, where to next?

Well I did some research and it came down to Backbone.js and Angular.js, (you can find lots of people politely disagreeing with one another on Reddit if you’re inclined to look) I chose Backbone.js, which means we’ll be returning to Richard’s blog over at

Firstly, he suggests we learn Handlebars – which you should have been introduced to back in March – Week 4, so go learn Handlebars. Then we move on to learning Backbone.js. Here’s my thoughts:

  • – Having worked with and PHP and WordPress, we have already seen some back-end development. However what struck me is that it’s quite tough to imagine myself creating anything independently, but I feel I’ve come far enough now to just keep tooling away at it. The 2 key resources here for me were Thomas Davis’s site and accompanying video – which I think you should watch first (I always prefer videos to soften the landing) and Addy Osmani’s book which is kindly availible for free (but I think I’ll be buying a copy in the future).
  • – While I really like Osmani’s book, you might, (as happened to me) start skipping portions, copying and pasting blindly. If you’re doing this, stop and come back to it as I found it’s quite easy to get fatigued with all this new information coming in. Work slowly, commenting and trying to pick out similarities between the various patterns and programs being fed to you. Personally I found building the book library in Osmani’s book quite rewarding, along with installing Node.js, started to build a picture of what’s possible with JavaScript frameworks. I’m keen to try and re-factor my quiz with backbone and handlebars but I feel I’m still lacking the foundation of knowledge required.

I’m currently still working my way through the curriculum, and I’ll likely put it on hold for a while as I have some other projects I’ll be working on. Hope to be back working with it soon, if you want more I’d take a look at Codeschool, I’ve heard good things and they’ve got their own backbone course.

1. Go learn Handlebars.
2. Then move on to learning Backbone.js

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