Bits and Bobs (Book Updates, the H5BP Ant Build Script, CanvasJS and My First Six Months at Sapient)

Time to share some random updates.

Mobile Web App in Practice

My Manning book has shifted tracks slightly. It was originally going to be a cookbook. It’s now part of Manning’s In Practice series so the title has changed to reflect that. With that slight adjustment out of the way we’re heading into serious production mode. For what it’s worth, my contribution is about 1/2 done at this point. The other authors are a little bit behind me, but they’ll start to crank soon. I’ll be sure to update once I have some solid dates.

Project Z

I won’t call it Project X since I worked on one of those already and I don’t want to confuse anyone that previously heard me talk about that behemoth. I signed a contract for another book project a few weeks ago. That’s in the planning stage right now. So much so I’m not even sure of the final title just yet. What’s interesting is that it’s a revised edition of a popular title by another author, so once we get the title sorted out and I can talk about it it’s going to be exciting.

I think it’s going to be a great project.


Six months in, Sapient is going well. I’m enjoying myself personally and in terms of the big picture things are really starting to fall into place. I’ve got two excellent JavaScript engineers starting on my team in Bangalore this month. We’re really trying to build out a great team in India so it feels good to have found two strong guys to anchor our efforts over there.

What I’m trying to do now is build out the team here in North America. The focus is here in Boston, but I don’t think I’d turn our nose up at someone in New York or Toronto, for example. In Boston I’m looking for both senior and mid level people who are interested in building nutty JavaScript applications using bleeding edge technology. For example, my current project has me hacking away at both Raphael and D3. Fun times. If you’re an experienced front end engineer who’s tired of working on marketing sites and want to expand your horizons with some real application work, lemme know. I’d love to hear from you.

Also, I’m not a bad guy to work for (unless everyone is lying to me.)


Call this a soft-alpha. I’ve been working (along with Bob Holt and Marc Neuwirth) on a little Canvas helper library called CanvasJS.

There are currently two areas of focus:

  • Chaining any method that doesn’t return an explicit value is chainable.
  • API Enhancements These range from new concepts (getting the boundingBox of the last operation, getting the currentPos (x and y) of the ‘cursor’,) missing methods (circle, rectangle) to convenience methods (canvas properties are now getter/setter methods.)

Additionally, I’m thinking it would be cool to offer polyfills for certain features that might have been missed in implementation or might be new to the specification.

Marc and I have both used it on projects at this point so I feel like it’s probably okay to talk about at this point. I’m going to buckle down and finish up the loose ends for a decent release. That’s basically documentation and a few API loose ends.

Here’s what the code looks like:

var ctx = new Canvas( "ctx" );
for ( var i = 0; i<1000; i++ ){
  var color = 'rgb(0,' + Math.floor(255 - i/7) + ',' +  Math.floor(255 - i/100) + ')';
        angle: i,
        distance:i * .40

And here it is in action.

I think it’s kind of cool.

H5BP Ant Build Script

Finally, we’ve been busy as hell on the Ant Build Script. In just the past couple of weeks we’ve simplified the way we handle concatenation (thanks dholth!) and added Less CSS (thanks Chris Rowe!) support. I’ve been really happy with the project since it’s split from the main HTML5 Boilerplate repo. We’ve got over 400 watchers and over 60 forks, which isn’t too shabby- we’re working our way up the “shell” rankings on github (we’re coming for you wemux). Which isn’t to say we don’t have a lot to do. We do. It’s just fun to watch the progress and feel like the project still has some good traction, even on its own.

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