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On Our Radar This Week: Polymer, Patterns and Programmers

By James Hibbard

Welcome to On Our Radar, a weekly round-up of news, trends and other cool stuff from the world of web development.

This week saw the release of iOS 8, which arrived sporting a plethora of new features. Here’s a (very) thorough review of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, here’s the TL;DR version and here are some of the best features you may not know about.

Not content with self-driving cars, balloon-carried internet, or curing death, Larry Page is now apparently planning a Google 2.0 that will build cities and airports.

Also in the news, Amazon unveiled six new tablets and e-readers, Intel unveiled its new dual-screen laptop and Microsoft bought Mojang (the company that created Minecraft) for a cool $2.5 billion.

It’s Time for HTML5

HTML 5 Logo

HTML5 has been gaining momentum as of late. This week it achieved Proposed Recommendation status with the W3C and also got shown some love by Apple, as it became apparent that new iOS 8 features will further its development.

HTML5 introduced a number of new tags which help us to write more semantic markup. Here’s a guide to using the new <time> element correctly. And why stop there? You can also use the date input to create a datepicker, something that was previously only achievable with JavaScript.

The <picture> element offers a declarative approach towards image resource loading and the <progress> element has opened a whole new avenue for providing visual feedback on long-running tasks.

Not sure which HTML5 features are supported by which browsers? Check out caniuse.com for a comprehensive list. You can also consult this (somewhat older) article to read up on the W3C’s HTML5 delivery plan.

Patterns, Patterns Everywhere

CodePen recently introduced an area containing curated groups of design patterns to provide you with inspiration for your next project. Sweet!

Here’s a list of hot content design patterns for mobile, as well as five patterns for mobile navigation menus.

Turning to design patterns of the programming kind, Marcello La Rocca recently took a look at emerging patterns in JavaScript event Handling and reviewed the pros and cons of the each approach. Elsewhere, Mr(?) 0a offered us an easy to understand explanation of JavaScript closure and design patterns.

Finally, here’s the factory design pattern explained by example, using PHP as the language of choice.

Buzzword of the Week: Web Components

Polymer Logo

Web components are a set of specifications introduced by the W3C that allow for the creation of reusable widgets (or components) on web pages and in web applications. Although browser support is currently patchy, many developers believe web components are going to fundamentally change the way we build for the web.

Keen to find out more? Good! Here’s a tutorial to get you started.

Polymer is a set of polyfills that enables us to use web components in non-compliant browsers. Here’s a guide to web components written by one of the Polymer devs. The same guy has also released YOLOmer! – a Yeoman generator for Ploymer projects.

Web components make Jeremy Keith both excited and nervous. Read his blog post to find out why.

TJ VanToll is another developer who has been vocal on this subject. Recently he announced that web components aren’t ready for production, then back peddled and announced that in fact they are. Both articles make interesting reading.

Programmers’ Corner

It’s always hard to know which technologies to keep up with and what to learn to advance your career. Well, not so according to this guy, who claims that all software engineers should learn JavaScript.

And while we’re on the subject of what software engineers should do, here’s what y’all should know about floating point arithmetic … What do you mean 0.1 + 0.2 is not quite equal to 0.3???

Recently, someone on SitePoint’s forums, someone asked “Which programming language pays better?“. Whilst the answer to that is obviously “Just learn JavaScript”, here’s an interesting list of unpopular programming languages that are still lucrative.

I don’t know about lucrative, but here’s what’s hot according to the Tiobe Index.

What’s wrong with comments that explain complex code? This StackExchange thread tells you.

Finally, this is how GitHub upgraded their outdated Rails 2.x fork, to Rails 3 with zero downtime.

So that’s everything for this week. Thanks for joining us.

I’ll leave you with a couple of random things I came across in the course of my travels: news that the next version of IE, code-named “Spartan,” might support extensions (Madness? THIS IS SPARTA!), an ethical trap to paralyze robots and in case you missed it fartscroll.js from the Onion (just so your page can fart as you scroll).

So which links caught your attention? What do you think about HTML5? Are web components ready for production? Which is the most lucrative programming language to learn? We would love to hear your thoughts.

Also, if you have any problems implementing anything covered here, or just want to discuss it some more, SitePoint’s forums are a great place to visit.

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