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Archive for May, 2009


Magic is brewing.

Magic Wand

Its Magic

I apologise for the title, I’ve been making cringe worthy “magic” based jokes and references all day, I just cant help myself.  In opposition to the mountain of work that seemed to lay ahead of me yesterday when I’d first decided to make the move to the Active records interaction style, today’s work load seems a damn sight lighter. Not only has the move been completed but I’ve also made great progress with a number of other core elements.

Better still the project has started gathering momentum with a total of 4 new people working on the project with me. In addition to Jayson the first person to contribute to the project,( drafting a number of templates for the Magic “Community site engine”‘s demo’s) , a second designer Source has also stepped in and created a fantastic looking logo. On the programming end, the project has also gained two more developers, Dan a good friend from uni whom has great deal of talent and experience in web design and Ryan a budding PHP programmer.

A downside of the sudden interest though is the requirement for me to actually start putting together some proper documentation, roadmap’s and plans for the project. It turned out working from the ideas in my head is a lot harder for the people who are not me :p . Its an interesting experience trying to manage the project though, as despite the fact a number of the courses on my degree programme try to drum the importance of project management in to everything, none of the situations its ever provided have ever really demonstrate a real need for it (other than seemingly wasting time that is). This project on the other hand does need it, I’m spending almost as much time talking with people about the project than I am coding it. But, I suppose it just goes to show, there’s no substitute for the real world.

One step forward two steps back

The development time frame on magic just took a hit today, not by a bug or oversight, but instead by a good idea. One of my MSN contacts (Iszak) was talking to me about how the magic framework worked, during this conversation he said something I initially though was a bit strange, that my User class was pointless. This threw me a little as the User class is central to the frameworks design and plays a big roll in almost every interaction with the system.

His point become much clearer after I read the first line of the example he gave me.

class User extends Database {

Throughout my development although User Object  had been central to the design, it had always used the Usersystem class as a middle man when interacting with the database. This meant all loading and saving users could only be done by a few relatively complex functions within the heart of the Usersystem class. The solution of creating a user as an extension of the database class had simply never occurred to me. The solution provided a much more elegant way of interacting with the database, even more flexibility with the User objects set-up and most of all for the User Class to be the sole controller of all things user.

The big downside of this is a lot of the code I’ve written is now pointless or wrong and that a great deal of rewriting and restructuring is going to be needed. Not to mention the entire way guests are handled and users are added needs to be totally rethought. In the long run though, i do think this will be worth the setback. Unfortunately in the short term, this means a lot of extra work for me. Still more unfortune than that is a HCI exam i have tommrow, and a slight need to do at least some revison for it, which all adds up to there going to be a good few days before Magic’s back where it was just an hour ago. On the bright side though, when the next version does come, not only will its internals be more sorted out, but the demo’s will be far less unsighly thanks to the kind contribution of a defualt layout by Jason Wendell.

Focus

Focus is a useful skill. One I often feel I lack. The more I should be doing one thing, the more my brain wants to do something totally different. For example, I decided to sit down and try and  finish off a few more aspects of my main website: thybag.co.uk. Instead I ended up installing, learning how to theme and themeing this WordPress Blog and creating a small porfilo site around it. Although on the bright side, it does give me somewhere to complain about these things.

The focus issue at late seems to be even worse, I have exams at uni, which in most peoples mind would warrant me putting my focus in to revising for them. Well, not me. The knowledge i should be doing revision, combines with my natural procrastination instincts to drive me to do, what is actually a pretty impressive amount of work, on something totally different and unrelated. The result this time being that I’ve started and made quite a big of progress in to developing and constructing a brand new open source project (Magic).

I originally managed to justify it to myself, by claiming it was obstensably revising for a dynamic web exam that was coming up, But thats now long gone and my developemnt pace hasn t slowed all to much. My justifcantion also seems signifcantly weeker concidering the upcoming exams are on interface design, C and algorthums.. But hey, in reality isnt writing this blog just futher procrstination? If thats the case, i must resign myself to the fact im doomed and by doing that successful judtify getting another revision of Magic out the door by tonight. Yay.

A shiny new blog

Well this site is still under construction, but has made quite a bit of progress since wordpress was first shoved under this domain. With a little luck what’s now an incomplete jumble of code will become both my portfolio site as well as my very own development Blog.

Since I’ve needed a portfolio site for a while, i finally decided to take action on it a day or two ago, making use of the userbag.co.uk domain name I’ve had laying around for almost a year now. I had originally registered the domain for another project, but in the end I didn’t get round to starting, never lone finishing it. Rather than start from scratch and build from the ground up, i decided going for WordPress as the blogging section was probably a better idea. The reasons for this were a combination of laziness and a want for the more advanced and robust spam blocking features a large blogging engine like WordPress can provide.

This oddly enough is also the first time ive ever install or used wordpress in my life, though getting to grips with it was far easier than id feared. The Templating engine, although an ugly jumble of php and html does provide all the nessary functionlty need, so allowed me to develop my sites design uninpinged by the constraints of the WP skinning engine. That said, my notable lack of skill as a front end designer was more than enough of a challenge for me, as you can likely see from the current state of the site.

To overcome my shortcomings on the design front, my main resort is to leach as much feedback on the design as i can from anyone willing to answer. By combineng the feedback and refineing my design accordinly i can eventaully get to quite a nice looking design (and hopefully will again in this case).

With a few more iterations of the general design and the eventual addition of a proper about, portfilo and contact page this site will be complete. Finally giving me somewhere to complain perfusely at the state of progammings im working on this blog, as well as having a nice looking portfilo i can tap on the end of my C.V

Hence with this Opening blog, i Launch this… Blog in to the open seas of the blogosphere :)