Saturday, March 2, 2013

Busy, busy. Went to Sydney and came back to Brisbane. There was a flood in one of those places, and the other was trying very hard also.

The fire map has been quite 'successful', in the sense that most of Christmas was spent keeping it going, tweaking it for the sometimes odd conditions under which it was used. For example, Fairfax local media sites  started embedding it, but their restricted column width was squishing some of the controls over each other.

There needs to be times where you - as the developer - should try to understand your user's dilemmas: they can't hack their CMS in one day to do special things just for my map to look better, those limitations are pretty hard set in their systems.

But I could change my code. Faster. It took the entire day, by the next smoky morning I had polished the app so it fit their iframe. It even detected that it had been 'framed' and offered a new menu option to link out to the fullscreen map.

The result - thousands of random people got a slightly better user experience. That's much more useful than a grumpy developer mumbling "but you're using it wrong!"

Fire season has mostly given way to flood season, and traffic has waned to almost nothing. I'll need to revisit it come next fire season, but for now its easy to keep it running. I expect a few feeds will break over the coming months as the agencies mess with their data in the 'off' season.

First Preview of New LOGO Language

Argh. So many half-written updates that I still haven't finished. For the moment, here's a sample of something pretty that I've been working on that just came alive today:

The above is not a mock-up, but a result of running the following chunk of Javascript:

{ en: "First LOGO Program" },
["to","square",["fn", ["length"], 
["repeat",4, ["fn",[],


What you're seeing is:

  • A LISP-like language encoded in JSON
  • LOGO-like expression library which draws SVG content
  • An interpreter (written in Javascript but designed to be portable) which runs the code, generating the coloured squares.
  • An IDE 'editor' which pretty-formats the code for display, intended for use on a touch screen.
  • Everything running in the browser, client-side, in a sandbox.
Why? Long story. "Parametric content" is about the pithiest explanation I can give. (eg: animation!) And perhaps a little pining for the 80's thrown in. These are old ideas. But they were also considered "too far ahead of their time". I think it might be time.