Smashing Podcast Episode #11

I was a guest on episode #11 of Smashing Magazine's podcast. I had the opportunity to chat with Drew McLellan about Sourcebit and how it can help developers connect any datasource to their JAMstack sites. Have a listen!

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Building a web-connected traffic light

Our lives are constantly flooded with information destined from the digital world: the sound of a Slack message on the laptop, a WhatsApp message popping up on the watch, or the email push notifications making our phones buzz incessantly. The screens we surround ourselves with are little black holes that are constantly teasing us with a snippet of information, knowing that we can't avoid getting sucked in to see more.

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Custom JSON (de)serialisation in JavaScript

If you write JavaScript applications, you probably find yourself having to read and write data structures to local files or remote APIs, which means you're probably good friends with JSON.stringify and JSON.parse. We should really get to know our friends, so let's talk about something these methods do that you may not be familiar with.

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What is an API?

Google Calendar API, Google Maps API, Twitter API, GitHub API, jQuery API, React API, the DOM API. Is everything an API? What is an API and how can it be such an ubiquitous concept, present in such a diverse range of platforms and technologies?

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GitHub Pages as a blogging platform

There’s a huge number of platforms to choose from if you’re looking to build a blog. WordPress is a likely first candidate, as these days it powers over 30% of the entire web, but products like Medium, Blogger, or Wix, to name just a few, are also popular and powerful alternatives.

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Server-side rendering

Server-side rendering (SSR) is a relatively new addition to the list of web development buzzwords, and that’s not because rendering websites on a server is a new concept – it’s just that until not too long ago, it didn’t make much sense to render them anywhere else.

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What is a headless CMS?

I vividly remember the first time I’ve used a CMS. It was the early 2000s and I came across a tool called PHP-Nuke, a content management system that offered an administration interface from where content could be easily created and modified, requiring no technical knowledge whatsoever from the user.

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Transforming JavaScript at the edge

One of the greatest challenges of building for the Web is the plethora of devices, operating systems and browser combinations that the product must support. How do you move this universal platform forward whilst retaining compatibility with older setups, which often still represent a significant percentage of the market? At its core, the technology of the Web has evolved quite conservatively over the years – we still have HTTP requests with verbs, headers and body. However, the applications that we build on top of them are as complex as ever, not only on the server, where the complexity of web applications has traditionally lived, but also on the client, with front-end applications handling astonishing amounts of business logic and data access operations.

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Taking the guesswork out of web compatibility

The most powerful aspect of the web is also what makes it so challenging to build for: its universality. When you create a website, you’re writing code that needs to be understood by a plethora of browsers on different devices and operating systems. It’s difficult. To make the web evolve in a sane and sustainable way for both users and developers, browser vendors work together to standardize new features, whether it’s a new HTML element, CSS property, or JavaScript API. But different vendors have different priorities, resources, and release cycles — so it’s very unlikely that a new feature will land on all the major browsers at once.

Read on Mozilla Hacks

Microservices + Node.js

We covered the basic principles of a microservices architecture, but we'll also look into the practicalities of implementing it from a technical standpoint. As we've seen, microservices are agnostic of technology, so you could use any programming language or environment to build them. In this article we'll see why JavaScript — and the Node.js environment in particular — is a good candidate.

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Microservices: not a free lunch

By now you should have a fairly good understanding of what microservices are and the problems they solve. Many organisations, big and small, have done incredibly positive transformations off the back of this architecture. But there is also the other side of the coin and it would be irresponsible to write about the wonders of microservices without also covering the complications they can bring. When implemented poorly, or when done for the wrong reasons, this architecture can create more problems than the ones it solves and quickly result in disaster.

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Microservices vs. Service-Oriented Architecture

At this point, you might rightfully argue that a lot of the principles we used to characterise microservices resemble the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), a software design pattern that gained immense popularity in the early 2000s. Wikipedia defines SOA as: A service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a style of software design where services are provided to the other components by application components, through a communication protocol over a network.

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The principles of microservices

In the previous article, we introduced the concept of microservices and established a parallel with the traditional monolithic approach. In this article, we’ll continue with that comparison whilst we cover the key principles behind a microservices architecture and how they can help an organisation build better software systems.

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Introduction to microservices

Designing software systems is hard. When I first mastered a programming language, I started to feel confident about writing code and even proud of how efficient, elegant and flexible I could make it. But little did I know that writing software is so much more than that.

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Static API generator

When I first started building websites, the proposition was quite basic: take content, which may or may not be stored in some form of database, and deliver it to people's browsers as HTML pages. Over the years, countless products used that simple model to offer all-in-one solutions for content management and delivery on the web. Fast-forward a decade or so and developers are presented with a very different reality. With such a vast landscape of devices consuming digital content, it's now imperative to consider how content can be delivered not only to web browsers, but also to native mobile applications, IoT devices, and other mediums yet to come.

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