Why I am doing this and Ext

tiistaina, tammikuuta 01, 2008

I was ready to write about anxiety driven software development. Its a notion where you think about all the ways your application will fail before you write your first line of code. It was packed with pithy insights on bullet-proofing code and using class hierarchies to ensure that you get really solid code that future well-meaning developers cannot unravel. It was going great until I realized that it just made me sound neurotic.

I started writing this blog because I, like everyone else in the software development world, has an opinion on how to write great code and build amazing web applications. I’ll churn out the occasionally interesting blog about some way to improve code or to keep things from getting worse. I’ll also write about a javascript library that I’m finding more useful each day: Ext. That makes me sounds less neurotic than writing about my anxieties.

In March of 2007 I started a project to test a few theories about javascript and PHP. I spend most of my time writing Java code running on Tomcat and JBoss and the project was a good chance to try something different. The application had a lot of javascript and CSS. I found that the PHP code was relatively small compared to the endless amount of javascript I was writing to implement dialog boxes, grid controls and trees.

My javascript started with Prototype 1.4 , then Dojo 0.4, JQuery, Prototype 1.5, Dojo 0.9, Prototype 1.6 and then settled on Ext 2.0. I kept cycling around because my application needed controls that the library either didn’t provide, and I had to write my own, or the library had the control and then I had to write enormous amounts of code to get simple stuff to work. Ext became a godsend because almost everything was straightforward and I could customize it without having to go really deep into the library’s code nor write a lot of code to get it to work. It took me a matter of weeks to wrap up my first project with Ext. I used it in a second project with a far more elaborate user interface and had it pretty much done in a couple of weeks too. I am still surprised.

The Ext documentation is not as great as one would hope and so I figured it would be helpful to document some of the things I have experienced. With that, let there be Ext musings!

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