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Avatar of Josh Dzielak

Josh Dzielak

Developer Advocate at DeveloperMode

Decision at Algolia about Ember.js, Rails, Discourse, Gitter, Discord, Algolia

Avatar of dzello
Developer Advocate at DeveloperMode
Ember.jsEmber.js
RailsRails
DiscourseDiscourse
GitterGitter
DiscordDiscord
AlgoliaAlgolia

Shortly after I joined Algolia as a developer advocate, I knew I wanted to establish a place for the community to congregate and share their projects, questions and advice. There are a ton of platforms out there that can be used to host communities, and they tend to fall into two categories - real-time sync (like chat) and async (like forums). Because the community was already large, I felt that a chat platform like Discord or Gitter might be overwhelming and opted for a forum-like solution instead (which would also create content that's searchable from Google).

I looked at paid, closed-source options like AnswerHub and ForumBee and old-school solutions like phpBB and vBulletin, but none seemed to offer the power, flexibility and developer-friendliness of Discourse. Discourse is open source, written in Rails with Ember.js on the front-end. That made me confident I could modify it to meet our exact needs. Discourse's own forum is very active which made me confident I could get help if I needed it.

It took about a month to get Discourse up-and-running and make authentication tied to algolia.com via the SSO plugin. Adding additional plugins for moderation or look-and-feel customization was fairly straightforward, and I even created a plugin to make the forum content searchable with Algolia. To stay on top of answering questions and moderation, we used the Discourse API to publish new messages into our Slack. All-in-all I would say we were happy with Discourse - the only caveat would be that it's very helpful to have technical knowledge as well as Rails knowledge in order to get the most out of it.

17 upvotes2 comments444 views

Decision about Cloudant, CouchDB, Pouchdb, Firebase

Avatar of dzello
Developer Advocate at DeveloperMode
CloudantCloudant
CouchDBCouchDB
PouchdbPouchdb
FirebaseFirebase

As a side project, I was building a note taking app that needed to synchronize between the client and the server so that it would work offline. At first I used Firebase to store the data on the server and wrote my own code to cache Firebase data in local storage and synchronize it. This was brittle and not performant. I figured that someone else must have solved this in a better way so I went looking for a better solution.

I needed a tool where I could write the data once and it would write to client and server, and when clients came back on line they would automatically catch the client up. I also needed conflict resolution. I was thrilled to discover Pouchdb and its server-side counterpart CouchDB. Together, they met nearly all of my requirements and were very easy to implement - I was able to remove a ton of custom code and have found the synchronization to be very robust. Pouchdb 7 has improved mobile support too, so I can run the app on iOS or Android browsers.

My Couchdb instance is actually a Cloudant instance running on IBM Bluemix. For my fairly low level of API usage, it's been totally free, and it has a decent GUI for managing users and replications.

3 upvotes134 views

Decision about Hugo, Jekyll

Avatar of dzello
Developer Advocate at DeveloperMode
HugoHugo
JekyllJekyll

Earlier this year, I migrated my personal website (dzello.com) from Jekyll to Hugo. My goal with the migration was to make the development environment as pleasant as possible and to make it really easy to add new types of content. For example, I knew I wanted to add a consulting page and some portfolio-style pages to show off talks I had given and projects I had worked on.

I had heard about how fast Hugo was, so I tried it out with my content after using a simple migration tool. The results were impressive - the startup and rebuild times were in milliseconds, making the process of iterating on content or design less cumbersome. Then I started to see how I could use Hugo to create new page types and was very impressed by the flexibility of the content model. It took me a few days to really understand where content should go with Hugo, but then I felt very confident that I could create many different types of pages - even multiple blogs if I wanted - using a consistent syntax and with full control of the layouts and the URLs.

After about 6 months, I've been very happy with the results of the migration. The dev environment is light and fast and I feel at ease adding new pages and sections to the site.

3 upvotes115 views