How fast is fast enough?

Posted by Tom on 2006-11-06

Bud Fox: How much is enough?

Gordon Gekko: It's not a question of enough, pal. It's a zero sum game, somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred from one perception to another.

I’m a bit of a Gordon Gekko myself when it comes to programming. Greed is good. Remember? Greed works. I’m greedy for speed. Seems to me pretty reasonable that I should be able to build a nice looking, usable, fully-ajaxified database app in what? A couple of hours? That would be fast enough. Then I’d be satisfied [grin].

To be clear, I’m only talking about a basic front end to a database here. You know the drill: create, update, delete, link things together. A blog, a simple content management system, a shop, an events diary, an issue tracker… The list goes on and on. All these kinds of sites are overwhelmingly similar. If I’m having to sweat a lot of code to get a site like this working, surely I must be repeating myself from the last site I built? Real programmers don’t repeat themselves. (Got that? I said: real programmers don’t repeat themselves)

Of course, any interesting web app is going to need a bunch of code to make it tick. Your job aint going anywhere just yet Mr. Programmer (except to Bangalore of course). I just don’t want to waste my life hacking on uninteresting sites. Or to be more accurate, on the uninteresting parts (there are a lot!) of my otherwise brain-meltingly exciting sites.

In fact there’s a bunch of stuff out there that will build a database front-end for you, in an instant. The Python world has Django, and the same for Rails is not far off. The Streamlined guys seem to be doing a great job. With one caveat: it’s called an Admin Interface. Not for public consumption.

So if an admin interface can be derived automatically from the data model, surely a genuine end-user interface can’t take that long? They are mere mortals, I believe, these administrators.

This is exactly what Hobo is trying to achieve - to take the automation of the out-of-the-box admin interface along with the flexibility of hand-coded views, and mix ‘em up in a big ‘ol pot to see what comes out.

Like the Scriptaculous guys have it - it’s about the user interface, baby!

This pretty much reflects my experience with hacking on Rails apps. The data-layer has been reduced to blissful simplicity. The move to CRUD as a design strategy makes the idea of a one-size-fits-all controller look pretty doable. But the views… I seem to spend 80% of my time hacking view code.

Not for much longer! :-)

Soon I’ll be able to say:

<page title="search">


Of course, it’s all open-source so if it works, please help yourselves :-)

Feeling greedy?

(p.s. What a load of old waffle eh?! I’ll make sure the next post has some actual content. Y’know, like, er, code and stuff)