Archive for January, 2010

The seven ordeals of the web application developer – Part 5

Developers who seek their fortune in the web business applications market must face and survive seven ordeals and success will only favour those who come prepared.

1. The First Ordeal: User experience

2. The Second Ordeal: Compatibility

3. The Third Ordeal: Time to market

4. The Fourth Ordeal: Finding the right tool

5. The Fifth Ordeal: Integration

For developers who plan to make a transition from desktop to the web, the distributed nature of Cloud Computing presents the greatest challenge. The past experience has shown that initial reaction of most desktop developers is to retreat to the server and avoid browser side computing at all cost. Many vendors went along with this and focused their emphasis on the server-side. As a result, many promising projects ended up as mediocre implementations with poor user experience and lack of scalability.

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MDA Release: Google Analytics package

We are pleased to announce the release of our Google Analytics package which is designed to make using Google Analytics in Morfik applications easy. Google Analytics is a free on-line service that is widely used on the Web to monitor site traffic. It can gather and analyse information about the traffic to your website, and generate comprehensive reports. Monitoring your website traffic is critical to ensuring that your website is meeting its objectives.

Those averse to JavaScript often lose interest and abandon the idea of using Google Analytics since it requires dropping down to HTML and fiddling with JavaScript. With Morfik’s Google Analytics package this is no longer necessary!

Let’s have a quick look at how it works:

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The role of florists in web application development

Did you know that florists play a major role in your life? In fact they have been involved in your life since before you were even born. It started when your parents proudly announced to the world that they were expecting a new baby. There were flowers. Then came the big day when you graced this world with your existence. There were more flowers. As the days turned into months and months into years, your birthdays brought more flowers. Sometimes you were ill. You received flowers. Then there was first love. More flowers. Graduation, first job, engagement, promotion, marriage, and your own babies all brought their flower moments - you get the picture! Unless like me you plan to live forever, one day there will be flowers for your funeral, and even for some years after you start programming the big computer in the sky, there will be the occasional flower on your resting place.

Before you jump to the conclusion that being a florist is a fantastic occupation because you cannot lose, come rain, hail or shine, and you give up information technology to open a flower shop, let me tell you why I said all the nonsense I just said.

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The importance of Rapid Application Development tools for Custom Software Development

No two businesses are the same! Market differentiation is the single most important factor in success and indeed survival of any business, big or small. In a crowded free-enterprise market, a competitive advantage results from those business processes that help uniquely differentiate a business from other players.

Businesses spend substantial amounts of money on IT infrastructure and computer applications. Some business processes such as word-processing can be handled by packaged software and still remain unique. Others can make use of highly customisable off-the-shelf packages such as accounting software. The exceptions are those unique processes that give any business its competitive advantage and are best served by custom-software development.

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Test your Web sites in browsers you don’t have!

Adobe recently released a product in BrowserLab, a hosted service that lets users view and test their Web sites in browsers they don't have, such as IE 6 or Firefox 2.

Just enter your Web page URL and then press enter. It will display the screen capture of the browsers you selected. Make sure you set the Delay parameter to something other than 0 to ensure the dynamic part of your Web page is also captured.

Make your site load faster

Do you have a form with many images on it? Here is a simple way to improve its loading speed: Select all Image controls on your form, and set their Bundled property to True.

This will prompt the Morfik compiler to pack images together so that they can be all downloaded with a single request, resulting in faster page load time and better user experience – all images will appear simultaneously rather than one at a time.

What does Google see when it looks at your website?

Your website looks great when your users open it. Now you have to make sure your website looks great when search engines come to index it. Here is how you can test it: Open browser settings, turn JavaScript support off, and reload the page.

This will show exactly how your website is seen by search engines – browse through different pages to make sure everything is in order.

Deployment tips and tricks: How to receive instant notification when your site goes down.

Those of you who have been with Morfik for a while may remember times when the Morfik site would go down and we would get the bad news from you guys. Thankfully those days are long gone and I can’t recall the last time a user had to contact us about a site outage.

Of course there are a number of reasons for this. Yes, Morfik software is now more mature and stable, and the auto-deployment process reduces the pain of maintenance and updates, but the main reason is that we are using a simple yet effective monitoring service which informs us immediately of any problem with our site or service. I receive a call within minutes on my cell phone!

Monitoring can be implemented at a few levels: the server level, Hosting Service Provider level and independent monitoring service level. To me the last one is the key. (And by the way I have no affiliation with any of the monitoring service providers).

If you set up your own monitoring server it is possible that your server fails long before you know it. Moreover, setting up your server to send SMS messages or make a Voice Call is not a trivial task.

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Form and Function

For more than a decade form has been favoured over function on the web. As the business community recognised the imperative of a web presence, graphic designers usurped the website development opportunities while desktop developers took a back seat.

The static nature of web pages and the initial limitations of browser scripting, coupled with the stateless nature of the medium, obscured the true potential of the web. Even some of the most visionary of commentators dismissed the web as a passing fad and ushered the confused developers back around the desktop.

Initially, graphic designers simply transferred their clients’ printed glossy brochures onto the web. Using their photographic design tools, they pushed the envelope for web page design to its absolute limit, producing spectacular visual results while underneath lurked messy hacks and awkward workarounds.

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The seven ordeals of the web application developer – Part 4

Developers who seek their fortune in the web business applications market must face and survive seven ordeals and success will only favour those who come prepared.

1. The First Ordeal: User experience

2. The Second Ordeal: Compatibility

3. The Third Ordeal: Time to market

4. The Fourth Ordeal: Finding the right tool

Developing the equivalent of a Visual Basic or Delphi class IDE for the web is easier said than done.  Many have tried yet failed to deliver.  The main challenges have been the fluid presentation of content within the browser, a shortage of effective debugging tools for JavaScript, browser incompatibilities, the photographic nature of visual elements, the use of different languages on the server and browser, database connectivity and over-reliance on plug-in browser extensions.

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