Nick DeNardis

User experience, code, higher education, analytics and accessibility.

Making web development fun again

Web Development is a passion and like all passions they can become stale after a while unless you continuously look for a new technique to keep it fresh. I have become officially bored with PHP (opens new window), dont get me wrong it is a great language but after developing in it for over 8 years you start to look for something new and exciting to get that same rush that you get when you learn and implement some new functionality.

Of course PHPSimpl (opens new window) has been a good release for me, it has really given me an outlet to expand my knowledge and take pride in building something that benefits more than just my development life. I am not stopping development on PHPSimpl, actually I think my additions and bug fixes will get increasingly quicker and better. I cannot leave PHP behind because the web is currently pretty much glued together with it.

I have fallen in love with Rails (opens new window). After using a ton of PHP frameworks none of them really seamed to be straightforward and seamless. Rails on the other hand is not as get up and go as php it has all the requirements I have been looking for in a framework. Some of the excitement is from getting to learn a new language and the structure of a Rails app just make sense.

My dream has come true, No More Slop! PHP is like a blank piece of paper and a pencil, the graphite stays on the paper but it can go in any direction at any time. Its great for when you are feeling creative but horrible when you have to read someone else’s paper, it might as well be in a different language. I have always tried to create some structure from PHPSimpl since I lead a team of three developers and we maintain 160+ sites (opens new window).

I played around with Rails about 9 months ago while reading Agile Development with Rails (opens new window) and it really got me thinking about what else is out there. At that time I didn’t take it too serious since I was already deep in a redevelopment (opens new window) which needed it badly. After a few months of PHP development on a large application that was not mine initially I was burned out. This past week I picked up Build Your Own Ruby on Rails Web Applications (opens new window) and read the whole thing, wow 400 pages I know… but the book was well written and went through the basics all the way to deployment. I recommend it for any developer looking for a change, even if you don’t start developing in Rails it gives great insite on how the web should be and can be applied to any language. Agile Development with Rails is a little more intence and is a definite follow up read.

My Current Rails Envy:

  • MVC with a real structured generator
  • Database Migrations
  • Templating engine built in
  • Testing built in
  • Plugins
  • One line Scaffold for those quick apps
  • Fixtures
  • Simplicity of WEBrick
  • Logging like a mad man

I am in the process of changing to a more Rails friendly host and I will most certainly be writing my Rails entries. Its like starting my web development life all over again, its refreshing.