Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Moo.fx 2

In my previous post I talked about Animator.js. Looks like Moo.fx didn't want to be out done. They recently released a completely new version of Moo.fx, a "superlightweight, ultratiny, megasmall javascript effects library". At this point, Scriptaculous is going to have to do something pretty quick to get me to stay on board. This is simply because both Animator.js and Moo.fx now enable me to create any imaginable effect simply be inputting some CSS – to me that is a killer feature.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Animator.js – nice!

Animator.js is a new javascript effects library (like moo.fx and scriptaculous) that is extremely cool.

What impresses me about it is the ease of customizing effects. You basically put in the css that the element your manipulating should have when the effect is done, and thats it.

Though this is new and probably has some bugs, I will definitely be keeping an eye on it. It is very possible that I will use this for LearnIt (rather than Scriptaculous, which I have been using).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fluid vs Fixed? How about both

As I've been designing the user interface for LearnIt, I've been thinking about wether I want the interface to be fluid or static. I am not completely sure, but I think Vitamin, the design of which I've always admired, has the right idea. Do them both.

This design makes the site look great wether on a huge screen or on a small screen. Here is the idea: when the window size is small, the site is fluid; but if the user size is big enough to start making reading a chore–the site becomes fixed.

This is what it looks like when the window is small...

But when the window is big, it looks like this...

You get the best of both worlds.

Contrast this to a completely fluid design like Wikipedia or a completely fixed design like this one. If you resize your window in Wikipedia to the maximum size (on a 20" screen), reading starts to get tricky. But if you go for a completely fixed design, you have to worry about making it small enough for all screens (which usually means very small).

My Setup

My setup is this: a MacBook (13") with Apple's 20" Cinema display.

Why do I mention this? Because I think it is very close to the perfect setup for developing wep apps. Why? Because of Parallels, which allows me to use Windows XP (or Vista) on my MacBook while I'm running OS X. This makes it possible to have windows running in full screen mode on my Macbook display, and OS X on my Cinema Display. This makes cross browser web development a lot easier because, after I've developed my code to work on Safari, I can open up IE in windows and tinker with things, watching both IE and Safari/Firefox at the same time.

Note: to do this I highly suggest getting more than the default 512 mb of RAM for the MacBook. I have 1256 mb installed right now (which makes the Macbook fly doing most things) but I'm going to upgrade to 2 gigs once I need to be using Windows more.

Why I started this blog

I had been trying to document my creation of LearnIt offline so that I could look back at my mistakes and learn from them. But blogs such as Ryan Carson's Bare Naked App inspired me to develop LearnIt in a more transparent way. This not only drives interest for LearnIt, but it makes a way for the whole web development community to benefit from what I learn from developing LearnIt.

It will also be cool to get feedback on my ideas, hardships, misconceptions, etc. via the comments.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


LearnIt is a web app I've been working on since September 2005 that will help students (or anybody else) research and learn faster, smarter, and organizier.

I am planning on making LearnIt as open as possible so smart people can do smart things with it. I will be blogging cool things I learn along the way and will share a lot of the unique elements such as the Zoomable Tree interface with the developer community.

I hope to have something ready to show this summer.

UPDATE: LearnIt development has been postponed due to my involvement in another project that also has much to do with education. I do not know when I will resume development but I'll keep you posted on this blog.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Setting up a local server

I have been using a combination of Midphase hosting and Transmit FTP software for development of LearnIt. I had been doing this because I thought setting up a server locally on my MacBook would be a hassle. Transmit has been working great, but Midphase has been a little dissapointing (seems that they have to shutdown the server a lot, causing lots of downtime). So I decided to try to set up a local server on my Macbook. I found that it really isn't difficult at all...

I found this excellent freeware software called MAMP, which sets up the local server and installs Apache, MySQL 4, and PHP 5. It sets up PHPMyAdmin and some other open source software. I was setting up databases and doing MySQL queries via php files in a matter of minutes. It was almost too easy.