CodeMash Blog 4 of 10

Grand Rapids based, CQL, sent seven of its developers to a large software development conference called Codemash. CodeMash is a unique event that educates software developers on current practices, methodologies, and technology trends in a variety of platforms and development languages such as Java, .Net, Ruby, Python and PHP. Different than most conferences, this three-day event ‘mashes’ together ideologies and individual developer experiences to discuss, learn and even attack certain problems.


SignalR is a realtime javascript framework (an asynchronous signaling library for ASP.NET that can be used to help build real-time multi-user web applications). It connects a bit of server code with javascript “magic” that lets you push data from the server to the client. The canonical example is a chat application – with SignalR, a software developer now has a better way of creating real-time information when utilizing an ASP.NET framework. There was a lot of talk around node.js during the weekend, and this Signal R framework lets you do some of the real-time activities that node.js does without requiring a whole new framework; it plugs into ASP.NET, quite nicely. Its purpose is different than node, but they overlap some. This was one of my favorite presentations from the weekend.

Why Our Customers Should Care: Real-time updates of information is extremely beneficial for many customer applications/websites. SignalR when combined with MVC provides new possibilities in developing web applications and client side UX design. In other words, when the SignalR process is combined with ASP.NET MVC, it provides developers an easier way to create dynamic websites, and ultimately create a better experience for end users.

Backbone Coffee script

The talk was supposed to be about Coffee Script and Backbone.js. The speaker spent most of his time talking about Backbone. Backbone.js is a javascript MVC framework that supplies models with (1) key-value binding and custom events, (2) collections with a rich API of enumerable functions, (3) views with declarative event handling, and (4) connects it all to your existing API over a RESTful JSON interface. In other words, according to the official Backbone.js site (, with Backbone, you represent your data as Models, which can be created, validated, destroyed, and saved to the server. Whenever a UI action causes an attribute of a model to change, the model triggers a "change" event; all the Views that display the model's state can be notified of the change, so that they are able to respond accordingly, re-rendering themselves with the new information. The speaker made a (pretty good) argument that most web applications, these days, require interactivity and responsiveness, etc. The presenter said he got sick of trying to manage ajax with json and jQuery because the jQuery code ended up hard to support after development was done. Backbone changes that by moving the MVC framework into javscript. The server app ends up becoming an REST api only; all of the view templating, routing, and models are in JS, and Backbone is a framework for it. I found the idea fascinating, and at times found myself agreeing with the presenter that the ajax updates to pages can get cumbersome.

Why Our Customers Should Care: It is important that software developers constantly search for better (and easier) development tools to achieve the desires/needs of their customers. This presentation on Backbone was just one example of how a great developer is always looking for new tools that make the coding experience better, and therefore a better output for the customer.

Check back for Codemash Installment #5 of 10.


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