• Web 2.0, meet Business 2.0

    As a gadget lover, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is my annual awards event of choice. Others can have the Oscars, the Grammys, and all of the Pageants combined. For me, it's all about what new gizmos are coming out that are going to make my life easier, happier, or more productive.

    This year was no different. Although life always seems to prevent me from attending, I followed the highlights from the 2007 show in Las Vegas on both CNET and the CES website. As you can see from the list of 2007 Award Winners, these gadgets are all about making life more enjoyable and perhaps even a bit more productive. CES 2007 highlighted everything from a fully voice-activated control system for your car, in the Ford Sync (through a Partnership with Microsoft), to a PDA/Smartphone designed to play TV programs.

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  • DHTML Dialogs vs. Popups

    DHTML and Popup Dialog Comparison

    There are all kinds of situations in web applications were you need to collect information from the user, and our Corporate Management Suite is no exception. Like many web apps, we used to pop open a new, smaller browser window for this purpose. It certainly got the job done, but there were all kinds of problems.

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  • Smart JavaScript Caching

    Like many web-based software companies, a significant part of our frontend logic is dependent on JavaScript. This allows us to add all of the neat little animations and dynamic page updates that make web apps fun. It also dramatically increases the size of the JavaScript files that need to be downloaded.

    Our approach in the past has been to just cache everything and forget about it. Unlike many public websites that have to operate under the assumption that the user's cache will be empty, we can depend on a fairly high percentage of populated caches. And, because we have a single page application design, even if they don't have the JavaScript cached, they only have to download the files once and they'll be available the entire time the application is being used.

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  • Part of what makes software development fun and interesting is working with cutting edge tools that enable developers to build fancier and (more importantly) better mouse traps. One such tool that we've come to embrace in working towards improving our application is the Dojo Framework. Full of features that create a rich and visually stunning AJAX application, version 0.4.1 of the Dojo Framework was recently released to the general public.

    We here at Spider Strategies were looking forward to this new release to aid us in one particular problem that plagues all web applications, browser compatibility. In particular with Microsoft's new IE7 being pushed out to clients automatically, we definitely wanted to see how Dojo and our performance management application, CMS, would fare against Microsoft's latest browser. We also had an interest in see how well things worked when applied to Apple's latest Safari 2.0.4 browser, for those inclined to work with Apple. As a side note, because we're all developers, we do most of our development on Firefox (how could a web developer live without firebug?) and therefore are most interested in these other major browser platforms.

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  • Test Driven Development

    Here at Spider Strategies, we strive to use the latest and greatest technologies and software development methodologies. One area that has received a lot of buzz during the past few years is Test-Driven Development (TDD). Proponents of TDD claim it can both improve software quality and decrease development time. A technique that can both improve quality and decrease cost is a very attractive prospect, but we've been a little puzzled on how to get TDD started.

    The trouble is, TDD depends on the creation of unit tests, but it's difficult if not impossible to write unit tests for code that accesses a relational database. Since most of the Corporate Management Suite is concerned with accessing and manipulating data in databases, it didn't seem like there was much room for us to apply TDD to our development process.

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