iOS: Creating a Spin Animation using Transitions

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Card Spinning Animation Example

Animations are one of the cornerstones of the iOS platform. Animations can add polish and visual interest to any application.

iOS comes with many default animations and effects. An animation between two views is referred to as a transition.

On a recent project, we needed to create an animation of a card to make it appear spinning. Creating this effect from scratch would involve a fair amount of code, but leveraging transitions made it easy.

UIWebView JavaScript to Objective-C communication

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When building an iOS application there are times when the best solution for a particular view or screen is to build it as a webpage and then embed it into the app using a UIWebView. There are certain things a webview can do really well that are otherwise hard to replicate, and while not as sexy, web development can be much quicker than native iOS development. The specifics of when to use a webview and when to go native I won’t dive into, but if you decide to use a webview, the first major question you’ll probably wonder is how to communicate between the native app and the webview. For full integration into the app, being able to send messages from the JavaScript to Objective-C and back is critical, and luckily it’s quite easy.

How to deploy your web app to Amazon EC2 using Capistrano

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What is Capistrano?

Capistrano is an open source tool mainly used to deploy web applications from source code management (SCM) to one or more servers. The aim of this guide is showing how to easily deploy your app to amazon EC2 using Capistrano. We can leverage its multi-stage extension to provide a different deployment strategy in different scenarios.

à la Flipboard

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Flipboard, iPad app of the year in 2010.
Sporting a very intuitive interface, flipboard is still an inspiration for designing applications.

A few months ago, we were asked to create a showcase iOS web app. Among the requested features, was to give it a flipboard effect.

ExtJS 4: Ext.Ajax and Timeout

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I was introduced to ExtJS a few months ago because I worked on a project that was heavily using the ExtJS 4 framework. Like many other frameworks, ExtJS had some really cool features, but also a few headaches. One headache I ran into was using the Ext.Ajax class to make a simple Ajax request. The Ext.Ajax class provides your basic event handling functionality for a successful/failed request. This class provides a timeout property that will execute an abort request when a certain amount of time has passed. However, I found that when a timeout does execute, a javascript error occurs. In Firebug, the error states:

Lessons Learned from My First HTML5 Video implementation

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I recently had the opportunity to implement an HTML5 video for a client.  It was the first time I’d really worked with HTML5 video, and I ran into a few issues and quirks I thought I’d share for other developers who run into these issues.

 

1. HTML5 video with a fallback to Flash works really well.  The opposite doesn’t work as well. 

 

At first I started implementing my video in Flash with a fallback to HTML5 – not for any special reason, but only because a previous developer had implemented another of the client’s videos that way and I followed the pattern already set.  I soon discovered that although this works fine for a video that just plays in a fairly static page, it wasn’t ideal for the kind of video I was implementing, which required some custom controls and interactions with other elements on the page.  I first thought that the best way to handle this would be with a try / catch, but since my flash took a little bit of time to load, I would often get an exception when calling a flash function, even though the flash was ultimately playable.  The real crux of the problem was that in an HTML5 to Flash fallback implementation, the flash code doesn’t even exist as far as the browser is concerned unless HTML5 is not supported – in which case the <video> tags don’t exist.  The user can only ever interact with the HTML5 video or with the Flash – never with both.  If you implement it the opposite way, BOTH Flash and HTML5 video exist on the page, potentially leading to a situation where the user is interacting with both videos.  Once I found myself writing code to catch and prevent these weird interactions, I decided this was the wrong way to go.   The HTML5 to Flash fallback is the way this code is meant to be implemented, and leads to the cleanest implementation.

Preventing spurious “error: failed to push some refs” messages from git

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Kitten in a shoe

On larger Git projects, I often see the following scenario play out after someone’s done some work and is ready to push it to the remote repo:

...making and committing changes to "develop" branch...
$ git pull
Already up-to-date.
$ git push
Counting objects: 5, done.
Delta compression using up to 8 threads.
Compressing objects: 100% (3/3), done.
Writing objects: 100% (3/3), 363 bytes, done.
Total 3 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
To git@github.com:test-repo/test_repo.git
   e8c1210..1a0c4d4  develop -> develop
 ! [rejected]        new_feature -> new_feature (non-fast-forward)
error: failed to push some refs to 'git@github.com:test-repo/test_repo.git'
To prevent you from losing history, non-fast-forward updates were rejected
Merge the remote changes (e.g. 'git pull') before pushing again. See the
'Note about fast-forwards' section of 'git push --help' for details.

From Hatebook to Poll.li

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Today Grio launched a new website, a new blog, and a free product.

I’m going to tell you about the product, which is called Poll.li (see http://poll.li).

Simply put, Poll.li is a way of voting on content using emoticons. You can think of it as a like button with more variety. Similar to like, Poll.li can be used as a voting mechanism for web users.

Jumping Back (Into) Flash

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On my previous project, I was busy delving into the relatively new world of Unity game scripting as my go-to solution for dynamic content.  Now I’m working on a game that has me going back into the world of Flash, so I thought I would write a brief commentary on the differences I perceive between the two frameworks as it pertains to 2D game-crafting.

Before I go too far into this, I should point out that these two design paradigms are really not expected to be compared like this side-by-side most of the time.  Flash has existed for more than 15 years, and has undergone significant improvements in that time.  Unity is a relatively new framework with a more specific vision: 3D games that can be easily exported to other frameworks, like the iPhone or a web-based player.  In fact, the next version of Unity will even allow publishing to Flash itself.

How a LAMP developer learned to stop worrying and love Ruby on Rails

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One of the most raging debates within the web developer community is LAMP vs. Ruby on Rails (RoR), with countless posts all over the Internet that debate the merits of one versus the other… but this blog entry isn’t going to be one of them.  You see, I’m new to RoR and hesitate to call myself an LAMP expert. So I’ll just discuss my own experience going from working on PHP-based sites to working on RoR-based sites.