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My Coding List for 2005

January 3, 2005

For each new project I work on, I always try to push my own personal envelope, taking on at least one component in the project that requires me to do more than I’ve done before – to learn something new, and implement it on a site or application. I consider it professional growth, and about the only way I can keep up. Besides, it expands the range of tools I can implement in the future, so even though I am learning something new, or experimenting a little, it is easy to justify spending the extra time.

In 2005, I hope to continue this practice. Here are some of the tools, techniques, and strategies I want to continue to use or explore this year. I have a separate list of other goals in terms of design, working with clients etc — this list is primarily focussed on the coding aspect of what I do.

Better CSS Management

The ways in which I’ve integrated CSS into each site I’ve worked on over the past year have evolved. I tweak it with each new project, and I’m hoping this year to move towards a system that works well, both in the short-term and the long-term. When I read Molly Holzschlag‘s article Integrated Web Design: Strategies for Long-Term CSS Hack Management, I knew that was the way forward. It isn’t that I use a lot of hacks in my CSS, but I do like the philosophy of building the CSS so it is easy to manage in the future.

Better Scripting

We’ve been working at separation of content and presentation for some time now. I believe that we (collectively) will continue to see the separation of behaviour into its own layer as well through the use of Unobtrusive JavaScript. I started using these types of techniques last year after reading Andy Clarke‘s brilliant Trimming form fields.

Using scripting like this requires a change in mindset and techniques – but it is truly powerful in that it embraces the philosophy of starting with a page that already works without JavaScript, and is enhanced when JavaScript is available.


I first saw this type of technology in use on Simon Collison‘s implementation of LiveSearch. I loved it. I continue to love it. I’ve thought of a few places I’d like to implement that type of functionality — not just for search, but for other things as well. I definitely will make use of XMLHttpRequest techniques this year.

Ruby on Rails and MVC

I like the idea behind the Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework (for any language really, not just Ruby). I’m starting to formulate some ideas for projects where I can use Ruby on Rails, and while I’m not prepared to put time into a client project using Ruby on Rails (at least not yet), I am prepared to use it at least for an internal project. You have to start somewhere, right?

As for using MVC, we have a project we are working on where we are involved in writing a new application using an MVC framework in JSP, as well as another project using an MVC framework in PHP, so I’m looking forward to using MVC within the next few days.

Proliferation of Feeds

We’ve been using BaseCamp for a while now, and I love the fact that I can subscribe to a feed that shows me the latest, freshest items. That, in part, was the inspiration for the creation of ShortStatom, where I modified Shaun Inman’s ShortStat code to create a feed of the most recent referrers to this blog.

After doing that, I’ve thought of about a hundred different ways (ok, 2, really) I can hack feeds into other systems that I need to use regularly, just to get status updates or summary statistics. It sure beats opening up a control panel, logging in, and waiting for a bloated page to download and render before I can read the data I need. That’s part of the beauty I see in feeds – they are (relatively) easy to create and customize and are very lightweight.


I’d like to add wikis to the corporate toolbox, though I’m not 100% sure where they’ll fit in. I suspect that using a wiki would be most useful for internal use, but I’m not going to rule out using it with clients as well, if it seems appropriate.

So, this is shaping up to be a very busy 2005 already, and we’re only three days in. I’m always looking for new ways to push myself as well, so I’m curious – in addition to the things I’ve listed above, what types of technologies/tools/strategies are you looking at using in 2005? And I don’t mean “What do you think is going to be big in 2005?” I mean, what are you, personally going to tackle in your code in 2005? Better use of CSS for layout? Creating sites that are more accessible to all users? Leaner CSS?

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8 Responses

Pingback by Dezentes JavaScript :: DenkZEIT — Jan 03 2005 @ 8:41 pm

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Comment by Jeff Smith — Jan 03 2005 @ 3:03 pm

Good point regarding wikis Derek. I’ve also wanted to look into them as well, because I think that they’d be a great tool for project management and development. I think that this year we’ll see a large rise in the use of wikis and blogs in the workplace for collaboration. I for one think they’re excellent tools that should be taken advantage of on more of a regular basis.

Comment by Dewayne Mikkelson — Jan 03 2005 @ 4:23 pm

Great Points Derek -
I have always felt that if you are not learning something new every day (if not more often) you might as well give up on life.

I am really looking forward to the next leap forward in all aspects of web development. I would really like to see more cross compatibility between the different web development environments and I am really looking for the next level of collaboration in Weblogs/Wikis/Whatever!

Trackback by From Away — Jan 03 2005 @ 4:26 pm

A Look Into 2005
I finally had a little bit of time this afternoon to write down a few of my predictions for the upcoming year with regards to web design and development.

Content Management Systems
As companies move further into the internet realm to expand their m…

Comment by Mike P. — Jan 03 2005 @ 6:55 pm

Hey Derek,

I’m with ya on the java, XMLHttpRequest and feeds… Looking forward to it all, and hoping to find some time too!

I’m really looking to streamline many more things (CSS, CMS, coding etc.), and make more effective use of Basecamp…

XMLHttpRequest seems so exciting from so many standpoints, maybe time to get together a list of resources on it…

Comment by Jesse — Jan 04 2005 @ 9:18 am

Nice list! Mine is very similar. I have been trying to get my head around a list of ‘essential tools’ to look at for web page development and management for 2005… which is my task for the early part of 2005 ;)

But Wiki… I too have been thinking about wiki in regards to how it actually is useful. Here at UW it is being used for documentation by computer support folks and some profs. Really I don’t see a better way to maintain documentation and support web pages that have a huge amount of content. Beyond that I am not sure it is the best tool for general web site creation but that could be due to my lack of experience with it or perhaps its the UI in wiki-world? Don’t tell the computer support folks that though!

Comment by patrick h. lauke — Jan 06 2005 @ 9:02 pm

funnily enough, been playing with xmlhttprequest myself for a while. one of my concerns though would be accessibility. of course, you’d just have to provide a server-side fallback mechanism, and away you go :)

Comment by Christian Watson — Jan 07 2005 @ 11:46 am

Regarding wikis, you might want to check out Jotspot. It’s shaping up to be a pretty cool wiki which has a bunch of applications already pre-loaded.

I have a beta account, but can’t for the life of me remember my URL, otherwise I’d share it with you. Perhaps I’ll post it when I’m back home and can look it up.