Archive for September, 2012

StrangeLoop conference 2012

September 26th, 2012

This week was the strangeloop conference and I thought I would share some things I have learned from the conference.

I attended this conference last year and it was quite interesting, so I decided to attend again this year and I was not disappointed.  If you are a software developer and you love to learn new bleeding-edge tools in the open source world, mixed with computer science theory, this is the conference for you.  I will highlight some of the more interesting points that I took away from the conference.

Google has a TON of irons in the fire at the moment, they have become my company to follow.  You may be familar with the V8 engine they are working on, which is basically their way of speeding up the javascript engine, you can learn more about it here:  Its all open source so if you are feeling froggy, you can contribute to the project.  Lars Bak, one of the senior engineers with google announced their work on Dart, which is basically a replacement for the javascript engine, which is gaining lots of traction in the software world since it too is an open source project, you can find out more about that here:

Google also had a talk about their new Go programming language, which was a very interesting language indeed.  It spawned from the need within google to have a single language for all the engineers to use and that was very flexible and extensible for their internal needs, you can find out more about that here:

Google also spoke a lot about how they are trying to make the web faster with their ‘Lets Make the Web Faster’ movement.  There was a lot of talk about the SPDY protocol, which you can learn more about here:

Those are the big highlights I saw from Google, I will be posting in the weeks to come about some other things I think are cool in the new Chromium, or the Canary version of Chrome as I have it now and I am playing with it on my machine.

Thats all I feel like writing at the moment, I will update my blog in the days and weeks to come with more cool information.

A very nice tool to display drop down data on your website

September 18th, 2012

I had a requirement on a project I have been working on to provide a search tool that can look up live data and filter it based on what you type through an auto-complete function.  I have been through 3 iterations, here is what I have used to this point:

The first one I used was the JQuery ComboGrid found HERE.  This tool was a good first run, it provides auto-complete and will display a grid that attaches to your INPUT element and allows you to display columns of data and will populate the field with whatever you select.  The problems I had with it is that it doesn’t look at all on an IPad and formatting it was somewhat of a nightmare, so I had to ditch this one.

Then I came across the Chosen control found HERE.  This control was a better step in that it does a very good job of formatting a SELECT element with auto-complete and filtering of the results.  The problems I ran into with this control was that it does some weird things on the IPad and it had no native function to hook into live data on a server, so I had to continue my search.

I have finally landed on the Select2 control, found HERE, so far this control does everything I need, it provides an ajax: function that allows you to hook right into your web call and even provides hooks for formatting the results and CSS file inclusion.   A word of advice if you are using the ajax: function, make sure you are using an INPUT element instead of SELECT and that your results include a lowercase id and text property, the control uses the id for searching, and the text property to display the results.  Happy coding!!

LESS CSS Error “Cannot call method ‘charAt’ of undefined”

September 11th, 2012

If you are writing .LESS files for your CSS you will probably run into this error at some point, especially if you are using multiple less files through its @import function.  This file really means that somewhere, probably buried down inside the less files you are importing has a problem.  The way I have found to fix this issue is to comment out your @import line and then run again and see if it tells you anything.  I found that by doing this it pointed me exactly where I needed to go and I was able to fix my issue and continue on, hope this helps.

Are you writing LESS CSS?

September 11th, 2012

If you are a web developer and you write a lot of CSS, which chances are you do, then you need to be writing it using LESS.  The website to download LESS is here: and using it is really simple,  just include it in your site like so:

<link rel="stylesheet/less" type="text/css" href="styles.less">
<script src="less.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

And the Less Compiler will do the rest for you.  When you have all of that in place, you can starting writing your LESS CSS.

Less Files have a .less extension and you just include them in the same directory that you have your css files in.  The beauty of using LESS is that you can mix it with standard CSS, it will recognize both, so you can refactor your CSS alongside the LESS syntax, it doesn’t care!!

You can read all about it over on the link I have provided but basically you can create Variables, Mixins, Nested Rules, and even have operations on things like color and height and widths, basically a simple programming language for CSS, pretty sweet huh?

If you need a starting point to get going with LESS, I recommend going over and downloading the ELEMENTS.less file here:  It is basically a generified LESS file that takes a lot of the standard things you would do in LESS and puts them into a file to save you time.  I am also linking here my edited version of my elements file where I added a few more things if you would like something a little more robust:

Advanced Rest Client is a very useful tool

September 4th, 2012

If you have restful services that you are needing to test and you aren’t a big fan of how fiddler handles it, and, if you are like me, couldn’t remember all those headers and settings that you put in the last time, then the Adv. Rest Client is for you.  My favorite feature of this addin for chrome is its ability to keep a history of all the requests you make, not to mention that its very lean and requires no install to your system.  You would still need fiddler to be able to see the traffic going in and out of your system but I will probably go to this tool for all my future testing.  HERE is the link to get this tool, enjoy.