October 20, 2011

Backbone.js, a JavaScript Framework

Presenter: Les Nightingill

Once, web pages were just content with some HTML markup. Then we added bits of JavaScript for a little interactivity. Now, as web sites are turning into web apps, more sophisticated sites have become full JavaScript applications that run in the browser, communicating with back-end services behind the scenes.

In an effort to reduce the complexity of developing such applications, various JavaScript frameworks have emerged. Les Nightingill will describe one such framework, Backbone.js, and show how he has used it in a project he developed for a Food Bank operation.

Backbone.js (http://documentcloud.github.com/backbone) is a very lightweight framework for JavaScript designed on the Model-View-Controller (MVC) model.

Running “on top of” jQuery, backbone.js offers a rational way to organize JavaScript, instead of it quickly becoming unwieldy as page functionality grows.

Backbone promises to bring to “single page applications” the improved development speed and maintainability that Rails brought to server-side applications. Although less than a year since its first release, and still not at rev 1.0, it seems to have enjoyed rapid uptake in the JavaScript developer community.

Single-page applications have been around for a while, with Google Maps perhaps being the best known. Another example that comes to mind is pixlr.com (a Photoshop-like online photo editor — check it out). But even much less sophisticated single-page applications can benefit from backbone.js.

If you are working on web sites but are not a programmer and want to stay on top of what’s hot, you will gain some valuable insights from this presentation.

About Les Nightingill
Les retired as a Silicon Valley engineering VP 10 years ago, where he managed the development of telecommunications and encryption equipment. Now he develops web sites and Rails applications on a volunteer basis for non-profit organizations.

For the last 3 years, he has been working on a Rails database application for Generation Rwanda (generationrwanda.org). As the development activity dwindled on that application, in March 2011 he started working with the Community Center of St. Bernard, a grass-roots food bank and social services organization in one of the neighbourhoods of New Orleans flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

Les finds his clients at idealist.org. He says that non-profits are the best clients he’s ever had. They totally appreciate anything you can offer them, it’s easy to exceed their expectations, and there's always time to do the work properly.

North Bay Internet Society

Meetings: Third Thursday of Every Month
2012 Schedule:
No Meetings in Aug. & Dec.

We usually meet in the Tarsier room at O'Reilly's buildings at the north end of Sebastopol

Doors open for socializing at 6:30 PM, "formal" meeting begins at 7:00 PM. Pot-luck refreshments.