Front-End Frameworks

Front-End Frameworks are increasingly common in web development in the last few years.  They provide basic components for building a web presence in a standard way that can improve both the quality of experience of people’s interactions and the speed of development.  These are some projects that I’ve found useful.

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Foundation is probably the first front-end framework that supported building websites that were responsive to the device used to access them.  I used it in a project a few years ago and was very pleased with my experience.  Foundation 5 is planned for release imminently and continues to push the edge forward.  They offer, among other improvements, the ability to selectively include content based on media queries.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 10.43.59 AMBootstrap is another great project that has really exploded in popularity.  Built by Twitter, this framework is ubiquitous across the web recently.  Bootstrap 3 offers an improved grid system and some semantic improvements.  I’ve built a number of projects using this framework and highly recommend it.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 10.45.28 AMSemantic UI is another framework that has been gaining traction recently.  Semantic is structured around natural language conventions to make development more intuitive.  The code samples feel really intuitive and elegant.  This framework looks really promising and I’m excited to try it out in a project soon.

Plone

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PlonePlone is a powerful, polished and user-friendly content management system.  It excels at providing dynamic, content-rich web presence for a community and as an intranet/portal system.

Plone lets non-technical people create and maintain information for a public website or an intranet using only a web browser. Plone is easy to understand and use — allowing users to be productive in just half an hour — yet offers a wealth of community-developed add-ons and extensibility to keep meeting your needs for years to come.

Blending the creativity and speed of open source with a technologically advanced Python back-end, Plone offers superior security without sacrificing power or extensibility.

Check out some of my Plone projects.

Pivotal Tracker

Tracker is a story-based project planning tool from Pivotal Labs that allows teams to collaborate and react to real-world changes instantly. It’s based on agile software methods, but can be used on a wide range of projects.

Tracker maintains a prioritized backlog of project deliverables, broken down into small, estimated pieces, called stories. It dynamically groups these stories into fixed segments of time, called iterations, and it predicts progress based on real historical performance.

Git

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Git is one of the indispensable tools that I use on every project.  It makes it easy to keep track of all the revisions and versions of a project.  It also enables multiple developers to work together in a seamless fashion, providing a way to merge changes made by other developers into the master version.

Git is a free & open source, distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency.  Every Git clone is a full-fledged repository with complete history and full revision tracking capabilities, not dependent on network access or a central server. Branching and merging are fast and easy to do.

githubGitHub is a great way to collaborate with others. It has really been a boon for many open source projects.  Fork, send pull requests and manage all your public and private git repositories. It also provides an offsite backup ensuring that your project is safe.

You can see some of my open source projects at my github account.

WordPress

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WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog.

WordPress started as just a blogging system, but has evolved to be used as full content management system and so much more through the thousands of plugins, widgets, and themes.  It is easy to use and it works great!

Check out some of the ways I’ve used WordPress.

Twitter Tools: Bootstrap, Bower, and Recess

I’ve been excited about some of the tools coming out of the Twitter engineering team.

Their front-end framework, Bootstrap, has been getting acclaim all over the web for quite a while now.  And rightly so.  It’s a great package providing sane design starting points, including nice typography, a responsive grid, buttons, icons, menus, alerts, modal dialogs, carousels, and more.  There’s been a lot of interesting work done around the Bootstrap framework as well.  For instance, check out Font Awesome, a set of beautiful icons.

Bootstrap uses the LESS framework, a dynamic stylesheet language, extending CSS with dynamic behavior such as variables, mixins, operations and functions.  I’ve been using LESS with other projects and it’s really nice.  But once you’ve got all your LESS files, you will want to convert them to plain CSS and maybe even compress them.  I’ve found Twitter’s Recess to be a great tool for this.

Another great tool for managing projects with a lot of dependencies is Twitter’s Bower.  A front-end package manager, it can automatically install and upgrade dependencies.  You can install jquery, bootstrap, and just about anything else you might want with a single command.  Makes life just a bit simpler…