[Baypiggies] What's a web developer?

K. Richard Pixley rich at noir.com
Mon Nov 2 17:43:28 CET 2009

Alex Martelli wrote:
> On Mon, Nov 2, 2009 at 4:21 AM, Michiel Overtoom <motoom at xs4all.nl 
> <mailto:motoom at xs4all.nl>> wrote:
>     On 2 Nov 2009, at 07:30 , RYAN DELUCCHI wrote:
>         True.  but, on the other hand, I've been exposed to a lot more
>         JS at my current gig and what *really* makes it tough are all
>         those darned browser incompatibilities.
>     May I suggest you have a look at jQuery (a JS library meant for
>     inclusion in a webpage)?  It has lots of stuff in it that makes
>     working with the DOM easier, and hides the browser
>     incompatibilities for you.
> Dojo does the same thing, and while not quite as popular as jQuery 
> (they're probably the top 2 JS frameworks by popularity: jQuery 11.6 
> Mhits on search, Dojo 7.7 Mhits though the latter are boosted by some 
> accidental hits;-) it was deliberately designed to be somewhat 
> Pythonic (as the designers are big fans and users of Python) -- for 
> example Dojo's underlying support for asynchronous operations rests on 
> a "deferred" object that closely mimics the one originally developed 
> as part of the popular "Twisted" Python framework for asynchronous 
> network programming.
At the risk of veering too far off this forum's charter...

I went through researching js frameworks recently looking for something 
to pair with pylons or turbogears.  So I'll also throw in that Prototype 
was probably the original browser-difference-hiding-framework and is 
still quite popular.  People argue over whether Prototype qualifies as a 
framework, though.  And most of the others either incorporate Prototype 
directly or supply replacements for much of it's functionality.  If you 
only want a library which can hide browser differences, then Prototype 
is still a strong choice.

Dojo is free, (open source).  But ext-js has easily accessible examples, 
excellent documentation, and a grid widget that includes user selectable 
columns, user sortable columns, user column ordering, and user column 
sizing and appears to be the only framework that does.  I didn't find 
much of anything to recommend jquery other than that it is recently 
taking off in popularity, probably because it's recently been adopted by 
a few larger corporations.

Pre-built grid widgets are still cutting edge.  And editing fields with 
auto completion seem to be all the rage right now.

I agree that web UI developers today need to know JS or they are far 
behind the curve.  Personally, I think JS leaves a lot to be desired as 
a language and would prefer to relegate it to being an interface 
language that isn't actually written by human beings, perhaps akin to  
postscript.  Pyjamas has the right idea language-wise, I think, although 
their widget set is lamentably primitive.  ToscaWidgets also look quite 
promising, although I haven't had the time to climb the learning curve 
and documentation is still pretty scarce.

Frankly, I think the world of the web browser and user interfaces is 
under high demand for innovation right now and will likely continue to 
change radically every year or two for a while.  The idea that everyone 
needs to know javascript will, I predict, fade in another 3 - 5 years to 
be replaced by higher level, better designed abstractions, quite likely 
abstractions which marry what runs on the user's device with what runs 
on the server such that the pairings can be specified just once, more 
akin to RPC's in past decades.  ToscaWidgets is the only thing I've 
found that appears to be moving in this direction yet, though.

FWIW, I picked ext-js for my project because I intend to make heavy use 
of the grid widget.  The licensing is a little awkward for commercial 
use, though.  So I'd recommend Dojo instead unless you really need this 
kind of grid widget.

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