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Matts (1087)

Matts
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I work for MessageLabs [messagelabs.com] in Toronto, ON, Canada. I write spam filters, MTA software, high performance network software, string matching algorithms, and other cool stuff mostly in Perl and C.

Journal of Matts (1087)

Friday January 04, 2008
09:52 PM

On feeling out of touch

[ #35291 ]

I haven't done much web development now for 7 years. I did a large-ish project at work using AxKit (probably one of the highest traffic mod_perl applications in existance, doing about 200 million transactions/day) about 4 or 5 years ago, but I don't really count that as it didn't expand my knowledge of web technology in any way.

I keep reading about new web "stuff" - Rails, Django, Seaside, etc. None of it really interests me all that much because frankly the core of the web doesn't appear to have changed a whole lot to me - you do a request and you serve a response. But maybe I'm missing something.

Email stuff of course still interests me because it's my day job. What's fascinating about my day job is that it's entirely built around people breaking the system and doing "weird" things, and me having to fix stuff. The most recent example was spammers sending QP encoded emails with high bit characters. That broke my QP decoding routines, but it also is a 100% spam indicator.

So is what is actually new and interesting that I should be looking into right now to keep my skills honed? When the web was dying (i.e. around 2000) it was XML, and learning and working with that served me well. What is interesting now?

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  • What is interesting now?
    Parallel processing.
  • The server-side of web development hasn't changed significantly in years. What has changed is the client-side. The complexities of CSS and the desire to actually use JavaScript are the main new developments in the web game. They also tend to be a real time-sink, but there's no putting Google Maps back in the box now.
    • Yeah, client-side stuff. On the server side a lot of the talk is about frameworks and tools that, IMO, have way too much magic. I don't think they help all that much getting your work done - as you said, the basic paradigm is still the same. I haven't tried it, but with Jifty they are trying to change that a little, but I'm not sure it's sane to try hiding or abstracting the reality of how HTTP works that much...

      Anyway,

      You used XML to push data around in your back-end with AxKit -- now you use JSON to
      --

      -- ask bjoern hansen [askbjoernhansen.com], !try; do();

      • Personally I like Catalyst better, and like Catalyst, because it gets away with quite little magic (unlike Jifty), but it has neat provisions to make your code very, very non-repetitive. Dispatch-type Chained is the bomb; it has helped clean up my code (that was already reasonably well-structured) to a similar extent as going from procedural to object-oriented in a GUI app (and I don’t mean messy procedural code).

  • Oh wait, you already wrote one (or two) of those IIRC :) Still seems like pretty cool stuff. I've been watching libev recently and have been tasking myself to try it out.