Buttsoup is a silly little text to speech web chat thing I made a few months ago. It allowed me to familiarize myself with a few technologies I’d been meaning to try out. There are also a few easter eggs built in (try typing “cage mode” in and see what happens). Code for buttsoup itself is on github.
Blown away by how easy they are to use. I use tools every day that leverage web sockets (the live reloading feature of grunt-contrib-watch comes to mind), but I guess I didn’t realize how simple they were. Obviously they have pros and cons over HTTP, but for large real-time systems, all you need is a simple events API and you can get something amazing running in a few hours. I used socket.io which was great but if I had to do it again I might go with the even higher level primus.
Last but not least is Heroku. Heroku is a PaaS (platform as a service) implementation. Companies like Amazon and Rackspace provide customers raw (virtual) servers for them to run their applications on. A PaaS takes this concept further by providing a platform for customers to run their applications. You don’t have to think about operating systems, security updates, creating / provisioning VM images, deployment, configuring databases, web servers, proxies, load balancers, etc. You just write code and push it, and in minutes it is running in the cloud with no work from you. It is a dream for most developers.
I’d say Heroku and Google App Engine are the two best PaaS implementations out there, but both cost money. I’ve been keeping an eye on open source PaaS alternatives, most notably flynn. It isn’t quite ready for prime time as of this writing though.
Heroku is great if for no other reason than it provides an amazing set of templates and guidelines for developing a web application using really sensible best practices. It does this in a way that is largely agnostic towards languages and libraries (and even Heroku itself). docs.heroku.com is just amazing. If you’re newcomer (or even an old fart looking to brush up) to developing web apps, this is a godsend.
Ever wanted to use google imagery inside of a leaflet map? This is just a small example of a google maps imagery / base layers hosted inside of a leaflet map. Check out where the magic happens on github: here.
Written by Lucas Doyle, a software engineer with a Robotics / GIS / UI focus in the SF Bay Area