I got tired of the dust settling on this site for so long and finally decided to make some simple changes to it. The site is still in need of a design overhaul, but for now I at least have greater control over posting new content rather than having to recompile and deploy the whole app!

New features:

In addition to the design overhaul, there's still a number of features I wish to include.


Of course, the first priority should always be making more content! Sometimes it is easy to get carried away with the coding and unfortunately run out of time to make the site worth seeing. Hopefully with the new admin controls, making new content will be faster, simpler, and more frequent!

Developing on this site has been a big eye opener for me. I've been so used to writing code for single page applications at work with javascript running in every corner - This site is a total 180! Including the new admin controls, ToastedBits runs even with javascript disabled. The good part is many of the concepts from my web services experience has proven useful here as well. Following the priciples of RESTful design has kept me sane even when applied to html (as opposed to my usual xml/json). As I enhance the site with javascript, I'll look into adding content negotiation for json as well and be grateful for making this design choice early!

I plan on using jQuery to decorate the site with additional features and effects at some point (after I roll out some styling) but this way I can be guaranteed to follow the graceful degredation/unobtrusive javascript pattern :-) It is a lot more effort to code to this standard, but knowing that the core of the site is always accessible across any (modern) browser is a good feeling! Graceful degredation is a valuable goal (some people like to use noscript and the like), however I do not feel the need to hold back on making use of HTML5 and other new technologies! This may break older clients (IE I'm glaring at you), but as long as modern browsers can run it (with or without js enabled), I'm happy!

A word of warning to anyone else developing with the Spring framework: Do not trust message forums and google searches blindly! Spring has evolved rapidly between releases. Most frustratingly, I ran into trouble with form based multipart encoding. Message forums suggested I add a multipart filter to my web.xml, but this is no longer necessary as it has been fully integrated into spring (at least in the 3.1 version I'm running)! The bean declaration for what spring will use to perform the multipart handling is however still required. What made this issue so annoying was that it did not stop the application from working in all instances, the bug was intermittent! I switched from Jetty to Tomcat and it changed the behavior to always fail (that helped track it down)

I think a tutorial that goes through the many various technologies at work behind ToastedBits is in order soon!