A Meetup with coders

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A Milton Keynes Meetup

As mentioned on earlier blogs, as part of my MA in Online Journalism I was to expand my network. My face-to-face meetings were all booked via Meetup.

After a couple of trips to London, I was finally able to attend a meeting closer to home, MK.js.

Talk 1: What, Why and How for JavaScript Style Guides

This talk was given by Christopher Pateman  (@pateman90).

A Style Guide is a set of rules for coders to follow. These rules range from when to put a semicolon to how to format a function

Style Guides have been about for many years, one of the earliest is a book called The Elements of Programming Style, which talks about the coding rules from its time for Fortran and PL/I languages. The languages may have changed, but the principles are still valid.

Style guides can to be built into Continuous Integration Builds. This would help to automate the process as errors or warnings about code can be generated, along with suggestions on how to use the correct formatting.

Pateman went on to explain how companies can benefit from using a style guide as other coders can quickly solve problems if the original programmer is not available. However, developing an in-house style guide can be expensive as they take a lot of man-hours to compile.

The easiest option is to use someone else’s (as long as there are regular updates). Pateman said that the Airbnb Style Guide is widely used, although it may not be right for everyone. Another popular guide is from Google.

Pateman has a blog on style guides.

My thoughts

I was surprised to hear that style guides are not always used. Back in my school days, following a style guide was drilled into pupils. Every program (in CESIL back then) could only be coded after designing a flow chart. After the coding it was ‘dry ran’ to check that the expected results would happen.

The code didn’t reach a computer until it was proven to work on paper.

Talk 2 (Lightning talk)  – Optimising Image Load Speed

This presentation was given by Alistair Clark (@alistairclark7). The subject was how to load large images by first showing a blurred version.  Instead of an empty space of solid colour while an image is loading, a blurred image is loaded before the full image fades in. The basic idea is to create a tiny version of the image and stretch it to the original size so that it appears blurry. The loading of the full-sized picture is then deferred. An example of the coding can be found here.

My thoughts

I seem to remember that in the days of dial-up, this technique was used as download speeds were so slow. Although it could be my memory playing up. It seems a good technique to use, especially for websites viewed on mobile devices.

Talk 3 – Changing best practises with ES2015

This presentation was given by David Goss (@davidjgoss)

ES2015 is a new version of JavaScript. Goss went through some of the new features. However, not all web browsers can handle the new code.

Some of the topics covered by Goss are also covered in the video below.