Snippets – ODF 1.2, Meteor 1.2 and NodeMCU customised

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  • Finally – ODF 1.2 is an ISO standard. This was an important iteration of the Open Document Format. Version 1.2 filled in the elephant in the room in previous versions, that elephant being a lack of formula definitions in the standard. This made sensible spreadsheet interchange somewhat hard, even when the the FOSS Open/Libre Office apps supported it… Hopefully, this ramps the pressure up on all office document creators to come up to standard.

  • Meteor 1.2 lands late Summer and the fine JavaScript platform is keeping up with the developer curve, with first class support for Angular and React coming. More importantly though, it’s going to support ES2105/ES6 which gives a massive update to the ubiquitous language. Top of the list is the arrival, as standard, of promises as an alternative to indent inducing callbacks.

  • NodeMCU is an impressive Lua enabled firmware for the ESP8266, the cheap-as-chips WiFi SoC we’ve talked about in the past. Problem is people keep adding to it and its got to the point where a default installation leaves nearly no memory to work with. You could build your own toolchain and put together your own builds but thats work you really probably don’t feel like doing. Worry not! Over at Frightanic.com, the’res a custom NodeMCU builder. Select what libraries you need in your firmware, enter your email and press the button. At some point later you’ll get a mail telling you your custom firmware is ready for you to download. A splendid service!

Developer Catchup: FreeBSD at 21, Meteor at 1.0, tunnels, disklessness, neurons and 68008s

developercatchup

  • FreeBSD hits 21:FreeBSD is 21 today and you can see the original announcement preserved on the FreeBSD site and the most recent status report shows where current development was at the end of the third quarter. Looking forward to tier 1 support for more ARM platforms in FreeBSD 11.

  • Meteor hits 1.0: After a good long maturation with plenty of reworking and changes for the better – rather than those long betas which see no changes and never end – the rather splendid Meteor framework has hit version 1.0. It lets you build apps which are really smart about keeping all the users in sync with each other and builds on Node, JavaScript (on the server and browser) and other great open source foundations. And it’s open source itself. Having written apps in the past using it, I recommend it for the modern single screen web app. There’s a step by step tutorial on building an app too. If I had to pick a flaw its that it uses the curl/wget to shell anti-pattern – `curl https://install.meteor.com/ | sh – that has become rather cool but still boils down to running an unviewed, unfiltered script on your system. We need a fix for this, and we don’t need another package manager. A simple “download/scan/report&alert and offer to run” utility would do – want to be a popular person out there? Go write it!

  • Tunnelling out: I have to admit I only just found out about this one but ngrok is a useful service which lets you create a tunnel from the net to a single port on a machine without fiddling with firewalls and other stuff. Download an executable, run it with a port number and it’ll do the rest. And you can inspect the traffic easily for simple debugging.

  • Redis goes diskless: Replication usually involves disks and disks change performance and when you are all about the performance, thats critical. That’s why @antirez has been working on diskless replication for Redis. Read his introductory article to the motivation and implementation.

  • Neural networks in JavaScript: To be honest, I’ve never though about doing neural networks in the browser but it seems Juan Cazala has and his Synaptic library lets you experiment with them too.

And a little making

  • Different single board processors: Remember the 68000 series? The folks at Big Mess O Wires do and are working on building a single board computer around a 68008 (the un-power-house at the heart of the classic Sinclair QL). The aim is to get it running Linux.

Developer Catchup – Easier docker on Mac, versioning made hard, old school Unix on the Pi and new school packaging for Meteor

developercatchupLet’s go fly a Kitematic: There’s plenty of command line tools for Docker and command line driven ways to run it on Mac OS X. The latter’s harder because you need to run a VM and load it with an image and… well there’s boot2docker to help but… Enter Kitematic which takes the previous tools and rolls them with a neat UI and some extra neat tricks to make it a lot easier to start playing with the idea. Among those tricks are things like automatically creating an [appname].dev DNS entry so you can quickly connect to your new apps when they are up and running. If you like to run GUI tools alongside terminal sessions on your Mac, you might want to give Kitematic a go.

Versioning wars: Yes, people are arguing on the Internet and this time its over versioning. Some years back, Semantic Versioning appeared and set out some rules for when to bump the major, minor and patch numbers in a version number to embue it with some meaning. While this works for libraries where the consumer is often another program, it works less well with code to be consumed by people. The argument starts on Underscore’s Github where breaking changes as fixes were causing friction over what the version should actually be. This spilled out onto Hacker News which lead to the suggestion that “Semantic Versioning Isn’t” and back to HN where people continued to disagree. But it did get Fear-Driver Versioning (ferver) and the idea of romantic versioning a moment in the sun. From what I see, SemVer works but it does require discipline and transparency from the developers and the consumers of that code. Still… Developers eh?… because those bike sheds won’t pick what colour they are going to be by themselves.

Old School on a Pi: Want to run old school stylee? We’re talking Unix V5 here. Matt Hoskins has updated his 2005 presentation on how to do this (think PDP emulation and similar) so you can now do it all on a Raspberry Pi. Read on to learn the true old ways of Unix.

Meteor updates packaging: Meteor’s a supercool Node.js framework for building apps and its steadily approaching version 1.0. Version 0.9.0 has just been released and along side various additions, there’s now a new Isobuild packaging system because in the Twenty-Tens, no framework or language is complete without it’s own packaging system. IsoBuild does not make ISO images, by the way. The Iso is short for “isomorphic”. The devs explain that Isomorphic JavaScript is, in their model, JavaScript that runs on client or server and that there wasn’t a build system that worked with both. Isobuild lets you do that with Isopacks that deliver the right code for client or server automatically. They’ve already got 1800 Isopacks and have their eye on mobile apps too in their planning with something going on for Cordova. Watch out for it. 1.0 is not far away.