After...too long!..of not updating my site, I'm very happy to announce that there's a new halhelms.com site.
There's a good deal of content on the site and an "Are You OO-Ready" quiz for ColdFusion OO developers. Check it out and let me know if you like it!
Added by Hal Helms on December 13, 2008 at 2:19 —
Readers of mine will know I'm a big fan of jQuery. Now, we have a great Ajaxified grid in CF8, but a friend wrote to ask me how to use jqGrid (http://www.trirand.com/blog/
) with ColdFusion. No problem: I am
a freaking guru, after all!
Four and a half hours later, a broken man, having enlisted help from my colleague, Maciej, I finally have the answer...
Here's the… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on November 18, 2008 at 17:20 —
I've had discussions with many developers who develop Object-Oriented (OO) programs and, often, I'm surprised by the areas of concern to them.
Often, discussions center around the choice of a controller (such as Model-Glue, Mach-II, or Fusebox), followed by supporting frameworks (ColdSpring, Transfer, Reactor)--and that's it.
Missing from these discussions is what I consider to be the most important topic of any discussion about software applications--the domain model.… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on November 9, 2008 at 18:27 —
Well, we finished the first of my "Real World OO" classes last week and I couldn't be more pleased. The programmers who attended were just fantastic -- very stimulating and challenging. Since I'm obviously biased, I recommend you look at the posts Ben Nadel did on his blog: bennadel.com/blog
In the midst of five full days of OO, we managed to sneak in a couple of lunches at the beach and a night at my house of spaghetti, wine, and more good… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on October 27, 2008 at 2:55 —
Last week, when I arrived home from work, the new O'Reilly book, High Performance Web Sites
was waiting for me. I had ordered it thinking it might have a point or two that was interesting. Instead, I found a book so fascinating I could hardly put down.
The book is written by Steve Souders, one of the really smart people behind Yahoo!'s site. Steve starts the book with these words:
"Most of my web career has been spent as a backend engineer. As such,… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on October 9, 2008 at 14:14 —
Following from my last post...
The other occurrence happened with a client that I inherited. The circumstances are a bit byzantine, but suffice it to say that by the time I got involved, the project was in trouble. Our designer felt they were being harangued and bullied by the client. Our client felt the designer was a prima donna who didn't take the time to understand their needs.
A confession: I tend to side with the client. I feel it's our job to guide the project and,… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on October 7, 2008 at 2:30 —
It's ironic that dealing with clients is one of the most frustrating aspects of development -- ironic because, but for the clients, there would be no development!
I've often noted that taking on a client shares similarities with raising a child. Those parents reading this will acknowledge that the first, sine qua non
responsibility of a parent is to love their child. If my son knows that I love him, then all the other responsibilities of a parent are possible, if not easy. But… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on October 4, 2008 at 14:39 —
Editor's Note: Version I of this blog post presented a file found on Hal's computer. This blog post presents another file found on the same computer. The reader should determine which of these holds better advice.
Companies and organizations and, well, all of us are looking to maximize our impact or leverage
. And the Holy Grail for maximizing leverage is the Big Idea. A big idea is big just because it promises a large impact. Smaller ideas, sometimes referred to as… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on September 26, 2008 at 0:45 —
Editor's Note: It appears that Hal was planning on doing a blog post on big ideas. He emailed me from his palatial digs on the South Sea island he recently purchased to ask me to post it for him. Looking at his computer, we found several possible blog posts. Unable to reach him to determine the correct one, we'll present them in sequence and let you choose which one he intended.
Hey, friend! Want to know the secret of having big ideas? Sure you do! You want the fame, the… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on September 23, 2008 at 20:08 —
A while back, one of my colleagues pointed me to a great tool for Ajax debugging. It's called "Charles" and it's billed as a " HTTP proxy / HTTP monitor / Reverse Proxy" app. This is a really wonderful tool that allows you to see all the interaction (Ajax and otherwise) between a client and server.
And "installing" Charles is simplicity itself: no configuration needed. It comes as both a free and a paid version. The difference is that the free version shuts down after 30 minutes. The… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on September 22, 2008 at 16:12 —
Over the weekend, I was reading some old posts from alistapart.com. Weird as it may sound, we often have more problems with simple websites than with complicated web applications. One article that really caught my attention was on solving the problem of waiting around (and around...) for content from clients. In the article, the author proposes offering copy editing
rather than copy writing. Very interesting read:… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on September 15, 2008 at 17:39 —
I purchased a product recently which has done more to help me develop faster and make less mistakes than anything in quite a while. In fact, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
It's not a new IDE, or an XML editor. It's not a web subscription or even a book. It is...a gallon of Rustoleum Chalkboard paint. With it, I painted a 4' stripe at eye level around my entire office. Now, whenever I want to try out an idea, I play around with it on the wall. Because it's fun, I find myself doing it… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on September 12, 2008 at 20:00 —
I've created a very short video showing one of the things we'll be learning about and working with in the upcoming OO class in October -- namely the immodestly-named "Halogen Object Inspector".
I created it to deal with the problem of seeing what's inside an object at run time. Sure, UML will tell me the composition of the class, but what about the actual values
inside the object? The object inspector does this for me. Here's a screenshot:
The magic that… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on September 6, 2008 at 16:18 —
The more I work in our industry, the more convinced I am that success has little to do with technological prowess.
What I find is key to success is good judgment. It's the ability to discern what clients really need (sometimes against what they actually tell us); it's being able to decide which technology to master and which to ignore; it's about having the tenacity to ignore the crowd when (as it often is), the crowd is wrong. Perhaps most importantly, success depends on the ability… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on September 1, 2008 at 20:56 —
Added by Hal Helms on August 27, 2008 at 12:00 —
Programming is among the most complex and most difficult activities humans do. Part of what makes it so hard is that the edifice that we build can't be seen or touched. The whole structure has to reside inside our minds. Decisions made early in the process may have unforeseen consequences for the integrity of our code. Yep, it's hard work.
A few years ago, I was working on a consulting job for a company building a particularly complex piece of software that was the company's flagship… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on August 25, 2008 at 12:53 —
My friend, Ben Nadel, told me about a new wireframing tool: Balsamiq. This is a fascinating product written for Adobe AIR. The unique thing about Balsamiq is that all the controls available (and there are a good number of them) are done in such a way that it looks as though they are sketched by hand. The advantage: the client won't confuse the wireframe with the app. The license for the product is $79. Well worth checking out at balsamiq.com.
Another tool I just found is called… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on August 20, 2008 at 12:43 —
Take a look at this cake made by Wal-Mart:
I received this in an email from my wife with the accompanying text:
Okay so this is how I imagine this conversation went:
Walmart Employee: 'Hello 'Walmarts, how can I help you?'
Customer: ' I would like to order a cake for a going away party this week.'
Walmart Employee: 'What you want it to say on the cake?'
Customer: 'Best Wishes… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on August 18, 2008 at 12:30 —
I was listening to NPR yesterday when a story came on about a computer scientist who had been involved in the original CAPTCHA idea. He estimated that each day
in the U.S. alone, 500,000 hours are spent typing in CAPTCHA challenges. He wondered if all those hours could be put to productive use. reCAPTCHA is his answer.
Instead of using random collections of numbers and words, reCAPTCHA displays images of words that an OCR program has trouble recognizing. The words come from… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on August 15, 2008 at 9:38 —
Friday, I was in a meeting with a client on a job we've been prototyping for about six weeks. I've gotten to know a good deal about their business model from meetings with them and I had an idea that was outside the scope of work we had been asked to do, but which I thought would propel their business efficiency and allow them to grow enormously. So, I prototyped my idea and showed it to them.
They loved it! I explained that it would cost more to implement. "Fine. Whatever," the Boss… Continue
Added by Hal Helms on August 10, 2008 at 0:33 —