Quotes: Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. -- Marie Curie
linkedin image wordpress image twitter image

Play Framework

The Play! Framework is a revolutionary new Java Web Application framework. It overcomes the productivity draining "code, compile, deploy" cycle, instead allowing code changes to take affect immediately and compilation errors to be displayed straight in the browser.
I have been following the Play developments since it was first release in late 2009. I have written several web application using the Play Framework, and have been so impressed that I also decided to write a Book! In late 2010, I released the first Play Framework book, "Introducing the Play Framework".

I may be biased, but I really cannot recommend the Play Framework highly enough. It is an absolute joy to develop with, and it is not often that I have said that about a Java framework, or any other language for that matter.

DevMap

A while back, I created a shared Map (using Google Maps) that allowed users of the Play framework to plot themselves with a pinpoint, showing where they lived or worked. This allowed people to see other Play users in the local area. Hundreds of people signed up, but the open-nature of the shared map didn't work well. People were inadvertently editing other people's information and people were being deleted by other users accidently (I assume!). The map was useful, but was becoming a pain to maintain. I decided to create a simple application (of course, using the Play framework), that would allow people to join and only edit their own information.

Whilst developing the application, I decided that there was absolutely no reason to limit the application to Play Framework only. So I created a section where people could create their own maps, and anyone could then sign up to those maps. Currently running at a few hundred users, it has surpassed the old shared Google Map, and with little advertising effort (a single twitter post, and a blog post), it has been a success!

To see it for yourself, go to http://devmap.heroku.com
The solution used Google Maps Javascript API, Open ID (for login), JQuery and Play Framework, and is hosted on Heroku.

IsItMyGo

I have been board gaming for about 3-4 years now, ever since a friend of mine was given Carcassonne as a Christmas present. Since then, the collection of games between my friends and I has grown to 30 or more.

Approximately 3 years ago, I wrote a clone of Puerto Rico, written in Java using Swing as a desktop application. Soon after, Microsoft bought the digital rights to the game, so unfortunately I had to take it offline, but decided to write some more applications in the future.

Having used many online gaming sites, my gaming friends decided the perfect mix would be a web-based (not Java or Flash) game that could be played in real time, but also allowed users to play turn based over a period of days, notified via email. This is when IsItMyGo was born.

This is still very much a work in progress, and hopefully will be launched at some point this year, but is not my main priority at present. If anyone is interested in collaborating, feel free to get in touch.

Chrome Extensions

Chrome is my favourite browser. With the only disadvantage being that FireBug is not quite as powerful as the Firefox plugin, Chrome is an all round first class browser. It is fast, has most of the HTML5 and CSS3 features you need and is very nice to use. The plugin system, as it is based on pure HTML and Javascript is also very simple to write.

In my usual curious way, I wanted to find out more about creating a Chrome Extension, so I searched for my most used plugins from Firefox and found that PropertyBee was not available for Chrome and decided to write my own version. PropertyBee is a tool that tracks property price changes on the popular UK property websites, the most popular being RightMove. I therefore, wrote a small extension that would recognise the right move pages, screen scrape the prices and save them to a database. If the prices had already been recorded, it would check to see if the price had changed and display a graphic accordingly. I find the tool very handy when house hunting to see how prices are changing in my area, to make better informed choices when making offers.

You can see it for yourself here.

Facebook Apps

I have written 5 Facebook applications since Facebook open up the API for developers to integrate into the platform. Most of these I ended up selling on to larger US companies, but a couple I have held onto.

Facebook is quite bad at changing the goal-posts with developers, and this has been an ongoing battle to keep it up to date, and functional for users. Facebook has also moved into a much more commercial world. Apps and Games are now almost exclusively offered by heavily invested gaming companies, so individual developers are now fighting a losing battle. This is the main reason for selling the applications that I had.

iPhone Apps

Coming Soon! Not there yet with this one, but it is hopefully going to be coming to a phone near you soon.