PRDXN’s Top 5 GitHub Repositories for January

Here’s what we at PRDXN found interesting and useful on GitHub this past month. Why share these findings here? Because we feel that every budding developer should know about these valuable tools. Check out our December finds here.


30 seconds of code

A curated collection of useful Javascript snippets that you can understand in 30 seconds or less. With utilities such as Dates, Arrays, Strings, and much more, this comes in really handy for those who want to understand these things practically.

Popmotion

Popmotion is a functional, reactive JavaScript motion library. It allows you to create unique animations and interactions with tweens, physics, and input tracking.

Actions are streams of values that can be started and stopped, like tweens, physics, and pointer input. Actions are unopinionated, so those values can be used to create animations with CSS, SVG, React, Three.js… any API that accepts a number as an input.

See it in action here: https://popmotion.io/

Docusaurus (by Facebook)

Docusaurus is a project for easily building, deploying, and maintaining open source project websites.

Docusaurus is built to be easy to get up and running in as little time as possible. It ships with localization support via CrowdIn, enabling you to grow your international community by translating your documentation. And, of course, it is customizable as well to ensure you have a site that is uniquely yours.

Hyperapp

Hyperapp is a JavaScript library for building frontend applications.

It allows you to create scalable browser-based applications using functional paradigm without the need for you to learn a new language. While at it, Hyperapp also minimizes the concepts that you might have to learn and understand but still be able to deliver what other frameworks can.

Airbnb JavaScript Style Guide

This is an old one but still worth mentioning. Everyone writes JavaScript a little differently. Airbnb decided it was time that we got together and agree on how we write JavaScript. They describe it as a mostly reasonable approach to JavaScript.

It is released it under the MIT license, so please feel free to fork and change the rules to fit your team’s style guide. If you haven’t had a look at this, head straight to their Github page now!


What do you think about this list? Do you have any other repos that are worth sharing? Let us know in the responses below.

PRDXN’s Top 5 GitHub Repositories for December

For open-source developers, GitHub is their bread and butter — the place where they feel at home. For the uninitiated, GitHub is a version control system to help you manage files in a versioned, distributed fashion and is optimized towards software source code files, allowing you to work in collaboration with your team.

In this first edition of our Top 5 GitHub repo finds, you can see a clear pattern of what this community is all about — learning and sharing. So without further ado, here’s our list:

Git flight rules

“Flight rules”? For developers? Yes, you read that right.

This is a guide for astronauts (or rather, programmers using git) about what to do when things go wrong.

Flight Rules are the hard-earned body of knowledge recorded in manuals that list, step-by-step, what to do if X occurs, and why. Essentially, they are extremely detailed, scenario-specific standard operating procedures.

NASA has been capturing our missteps, disasters and solutions since the early 1960s, when Mercury-era ground teams first started gathering “lessons learned” into a compendium that now lists thousands of problematic situations, from engine failure to busted hatch handles to computer glitches, and their solutions.

— Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life

This comes in handy for programmers from both ends of the spectrum of experience to quickly debug specific scenarios, but it is especially a must-have for all budding programmers.

Node best practices

This is a curated list of the top-ranked content on Node JS best practices, style guides, and architectural tips. Contributions here range from ways to fix some (common) code mistakes to suggesting brilliant new ideas, all of which are accompanied with code examples for quicker consumption/implementation.

Front-End-Checklist

The Front-End Checklist is an exhaustive list of all elements you need to have and to test before launching your site or HTML page to production. It is based on front-end developers’ years of experience, with the additions coming from some other open-source checklists.

Create React App

One of the quickest ways to get started with React, this automates the build of your app without the need for configuration files, and the environment will have everything you need to build a modern React app:

    • React, JSX, ES6, and Flow syntax support
    • Language extras beyond ES6 like the object spread operator
    • A dev server that lints for common errors [For the newbie, linting is the process of running a program that will analyze code for potential errors, so essentially the development server checks for potential errors itself.]
    • Import CSS and image files directly from JavaScript
    • Autoprefixed CSS, so you don’t need -webkit or other prefixes
    • A build script to bundle JS, CSS, and images for production, with sourcemaps
    • An offline-first service worker and a web app manifest, meeting all the Progressive Web App criteria

While this feature list is comprehensive to start, it is kind of limited if you are working on a production app. Don’t worry. All you need to do is press the eject button and you’ll be able to use this as a boilerplate generator and take off.

Parcel

Parcel is another repository which helps you get started with your development faster. It’s a web application bundler that requires zero configuration and offers:

    • Blazing fast bundle times — multicore compilation, and a filesystem cache for fast rebuilds even after a restart
    • Out of the box support for JS, CSS, HTML, file assets, and more — no plugins to install
    • Automatic transformation modules using Babel, PostCSS, and PostHTML when needed — even node_modules
    • Zero configuration code splitting using dynamic import() statements
    • Built in support for hot module replacement
    • A friendly error logging experience — syntax highlighted code frames help pinpoint the problem

What do you think about this list? Do you have any other repos that are worth sharing? Let us know in the responses below.

Gamification at work?

As someone who has spent countless hours on games, I can attest to the fact that nothing beats the immersion and intricate reward systems, a sentiment, I’m sure that the gamer community strongly resonates with. Whether you are Dota 2 person, or answer to the Call of Duty with your buddies or are a serious Candy Crushing force to reckon with, there’s no denying that the in-game mechanics work deviously well in luring us into playing in a repetitive loop, although with changing environments and difficulty levels, but essentially reaching for the same end goal — all for some good ol’ emotional satisfaction.

For those who are not too familiar with building a specific skill set that involves strategic game play and fun in equal proportions, I wouldn’t say you’re missing out exactly, but many of these games have extremely good community following, with people competing with each other at global level, gaming conventions and meetups, there’s an entire ecosystem which keeps on growing in volume. All this, while being a great way to pass time, are and have a way to make money from it (hello Youtubers, and game designers, devs!) at the same time, has a mass attraction appeal to those of us, who count gaming among the simple pleasures of life.

So what is Gamification? It is the application of typical elements of game play like point scoring, competition with others, rules of play, to other areas of one’s existence to encourage engagement with our fellow beings.

Like everything, one could argue about whether or not Gamification principles can be successfully applied to other areas of our life. Here are 3 crucial things you need to know and understand to be able to build a successful model:

  1. Know the player and the mission: Most attempts at Gamification fail because the system is not thought through well enough to consider what truly motivates the player. Delve into the player’s psyche, not just the daily routine but think ahead — what would still motivate you to keep playing the game after months.
  2. Replace force with reinforcements : Focus on the habit you want to reinforce and reward it with level ups, badges or power-up. So the players do the thing again, and again, to be rewarded again and again. classical conditioning #101. As long as you don’t force their hand to obtain a reinforcement, your game plan looks good.
  3. Last but surely the most important, Design. everything will fail if the model fails to keep people interested with immersion and augmentation of physical with virtual reward systems. These have to be designed to drive productivity, always keep the eyes on the prize, and should not be so complex as to deter/distract the players from following the rule book.

Nike+ app wins with its idea to extend workouts into a social activity, with the opportunity to challenge friends, and showcase your prowess in the community leader boards. Pokemon Go on the other hand, started with a big bang of the pokeball, but couldn’t master the art of retention. Such things have to be thought out well, from long term and then backwards from there, instead of the other way around.

Gartner in its November 2012 press release predicted that “by 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations. But at the same time, they forecasted that “by 2014, 80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives, primarily due to poor design”.

After taking over e-learning (like Duolingo and Codecademy), one can say that the future of gamification is in employee engagement, where the system ties considerable rewards for employees with measurable business return-on-investment. This becomes as good as it sounds by creating an environment where the motivation for them to excel is no longer just extrinsic (traditional appreciation) but intrinsic too (where they want to get to that elusive next level, or win that boss fight).

This is a topic which I will be exploring in greater detail over the span of the next few weeks and sharing my experiences and journey along the way, but here is something you won’t often hear — it is actually a high-risk choice. The stakes are too high to have a creative vision and put in efforts into setting the whole thing up, only to end up with mediocrity that fails to inspire any kind of enthusiasm.

Break of light

For one last time he locked himself in, determined to never get out
Caved into depths to hide all the pain, or maybe it was just the shame
Still fresh with the cuts from his last escape, hiding it all behind his face
Then something happened out of the blue, the monster had no clue

A maiden walked through the deserted plains, shining her light into his cage
In the lit night he could see a face, telling a story far greater than fame
Made of strength, strong of will, forged by the beats on the great anvil
Shaped through time, moulded to hold, all the stories she never told

For he could see his past and future in a blink, in the eyes of the teller he now dreamed to behold
The efforts may go in vain, but he still gathered the muscle and broke the chains
While the maiden slowly disappears into the night, he charges towards her light
Never will the beast be chained, set free by the elusive Dame

Google I/O 2017: What you need to know

Google I/O 2017 (17th-19th May) has come to a close and the internet giant has yet again blown away our minds with their adventurous yet futuristic vision.

The predominant theme for this year’s event was AI — Google is adding AI to anything and everything and it is, to be honest, pretty damn cool!

In case you missed the event, we’ve got you covered. Here are the key announcements which we, at PRDXN, are very excited about:

  • Google.ai — Research and tools from Google and its Brain Team are made available to everyone. This is AI done the right way!
  • Kotlin + Android — Now you can code your Android apps in Kotlin instead of Java, adds more features, more options for developers.
  • Daydream 2.0 — You won’t need a PC or phone to experience VR. It will track virtual space with “WorldSense” powered by its Tango augmented reality system. Google is partnering up with HTC and Lenovo to build these standalone VR headsets.
Standalone VR headsets with Daydream
  • Google Assistant — Started from Pixel, this has made its way to millions of Android AND — wait for it — iOS devices! It now adds third-party apps support, allowing you to do more with such integrations.
  • Android O — This was one of the most anticipated news with 2 Billion people using Android devices, 800 million monthly active users. Now available in beta, Android O (still not named) adds in features like picture-in-picture, notification dots and lots more.

No, that’s not all, by no means. Here are some of the other things that Google is showcased in its annual developer conference:

  • Google Home v2 — Stepping up the game, adds proactive assistance — nudges when Google thinks you need it. Have an upcoming appointment? It can alert you to traffic delays in advance for the event, and more.
  • Google Lens — Point the camera at something and it will figure out what that is. Whoa! (Coming soon)

With all the buzz this year around AI and VR/AR, it is an exhilarating time for us here at PRDXN (and developers everywhere) as we take steps toward embracing these into our products and services.

Something Phishy? Here’s how to catch them

Anyone who has been around the internet for a while has come across some kind of phishing scam attempting to lure you into giving away some information.

Not sure what what these phishing scams could be like? Well, read on for tips on how to spot these out:

  • They often try to fake the names of important institutions like Banks, Govt. Agencies, Email service providers. The giveaway here is the lack of a valid domain ([email protected] is obviously a suspicious source).
  • Before clicking any links in an email, hover over a link to preview the redirecting URL. If you don’t recognize the domain, DO NOT click it.

Check for the domain (not sub-domain) to validate the source. For Google’s Play Store, play.google..xyz.com (fake) is not the same as play.google.com (authentic).

Keep your eyes open!
  • Strange looking or misspelled URLs — especially with missing or extra alphabets or numbers in place of certain alphabets are another red flag (eg: yotube.com, yahpp.com paypa1.com). A secure website always starts with “https”.
  • Click baits: Emails or web pages that tell you that you have won an iPhone/latest Samsung phone are — with utter certainty -blatantly lying to you. No one is going around giving free iPhones!
  • The same applies to emails which claim that someone left you an inheritance/ your account security is compromised (which you don’t even remember making)/ check out this “viral video” or asks you for any kind of personal details. Just don’t bother.

Lowdown on the highs from F8 2017

Facebook’s F8 2017 conference (April 18/19th) is over now and there is a lot to takeaway from it. Here are some of the things that we, at PRDXN, are HYPED about:

React VR

  • Anybody with experience in building React apps should be able to build React VR apps pretty easily
  • React VR allows developers to build 360-degree virtual reality experiences with the help of JavaScript
  • Sweet! React combined with Virtual Reality! We (PRDXN) have been working with React for about 2 years now. So we’re damn excited that Facebook is using React to build Virtual Reality experiences. Woot woot!

Facebook Spaces (VR — Virtual Reality)

  • Oculus Rift + Facebook = 3D virtual hangout with friends
  • More than chat messages; it brings voice and avatar body language
  • WILL expand to other VR platforms

What we (PRDXN) love about this…Facebook’s cracked the “human experience” again without any (?!?) warning. Firstly, they brought us a social platform we didn’t even know we wanted or would enjoy. Now there’s this…

As humans, part of what we love about being with each other is observing things together, and sharing our observations, impressions, analysis, etc. on what we’ve jointly observed — i.e., seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time with your best bud, etc. This is what Facebook Spaces is all about.

Camera Effects Platform (AR — Augmented Reality)

  • Facebook copying Snapchat? No, they’re just getting started
  • Opens up Facebook’s “AR Studio” to the developer community, unlike Snapchat (come on, share!)
  • Wearables still need time to evolve/reach customers; cameras are already there!
  • Facebook: ‘We want to make cameras the first augmented reality platform’

…Got to this point and confused as to how Augmented Reality differs from Virtual Reality? Then check this out.

React Fiber

  • Incoming React 16, will be a rewrite of React based on their learnings with emphasis on extensibility
  • “We wanted to start with a new foundation that could power everything we do going forward” says Ben Alpert
  • Designed to improve React’s suitability in areas such as animation, layout and gestures
  • Fully backwards compatible with existing React-based applications and Facebook is confident that this would not be a problem; still something for Developers to keep an eye out for

Relay Modern

  • New version of Relay, used for building data-heavy applications
  • Rewritten for performance and extensibility, same as React Fiber
  • Simplifies the API, adds features and improves performance; more here

Other highlights:

  • Litho — declarative UI framework for Android, already in use in Facebook’s Android app
  • 360-degree Cameras: Paving the way for future of VR by enabling content creators
  • Bots for Facebook Workplace, adds file integration, partners its way into enterprise-grade compliance
  • Brain-computer interfaceDetects you speaking silently in your head, and translates it into text; all this without invasive implants
  • If Brain-computer interface sounds too futuristic, here comes skin-hearing(!?) — ability to hear through the skin
  • Instagram gets offline mode for Android, coming soon for iOS
  • Updates to Facebook Analytics, Facebook Login and Facebook Account Kit

A Monster Calls

Couple of days back (after being tilted during a Dota 2 game), I thought of watching a movie. It had been a while since I watched any, especially with all the TV series that keep me more than occupied. Choosing a movie wasn’t really difficult with the name Liam Neeson in the cast popping up.

A boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mother’s terminal illness.

A Monster Calls‘ isn’t exactly the most riveting title and frankly, despite the cast, I did not expect much from this nearly 2-hour movie but I was in for a surprise.

Based on the book by Patrick Ness, it is a story about a young boy named Conor living with his single mom. It is the journey of Conor through a tough period in school with bullies to his terminally ill mother suffering from cancer, and how he creates this imaginary ‘monster’ to help find his strength in such a time.

The movie does remarkably well to capture the pain and the ceaseless cycle of hope that your loved one would recover – both emotionally as well as visually. A tearjerker.

 

Forgotten

The worst feeling isn’t being lonely. It’s being forgotten by someone you would never forget.

It just seemed like a good quote to ponder over until it actually hit me in reality a few months back.

I was not happy being surrounded by people who once were the closest to me and now had just seamlessly forgotten me. While I would try and come up with something to talk about, do together, it was rarely replicated – even worse is that I would only be remembered when they needed some help. Every day became a reminder of how miserable it is to have lost those people. I had recently quit my job (reason for which deserves a separate post) and thought that this can also be a ‘test’ (whether I’m out of sight out of mind?) – it proved what I already feared.

Now don’t get me wrong, some did (and still) care and I have let then down by isolating myself completely over the last month; and I’m sorry, I would try to make things better.

But what this break showed me was, after everything, all you ever have is yourself and nothing more. Everything, everyone else just comes and goes.