As I have posted three or four times on the question of how best to create modern, scalable, flexible and robust web applications (here, here and here), I finally decided that Ruby was going to require too much ramp-up time and — when I read about Flask — decided that my tool set for the next quantum of time (five years?) – to replace my joy working with Objective C / iOS / Xcode/ sqlite – would be Python3 / MySQL (Aurora) / Flask (for web framework) / PyCharm, NLTK, Pandas and one day scikit-learn and the rest of it (for now I will stick with Rapidminer and LightSIDE as my black-box for text-based machine learning).
And one last thing: Docker. There are many, many reasons that this presents to me the best-of-breed toolbox of modern application frameworks and tools. To more fully describe — at the “example” level and not at the technology / component level — why these tools, frameworks and yes, deployment choices are perfect for me, there could be no more perfect example than this: I wanted to put together a simple web-based registration scheme: a public facing set of web pages — maybe just one or two — that do a “signup”.
In an relatively few days — or perhaps a couple dozen hours — I was able to create from scratch an entire (simple) web app using Flask, Python3, MySQL (I went with out-of-the-box MySQL rather than Aurora as I will need to learn more about Aurora and that will be fun but not short) — that is now live here (and with a link on my home page).
Just as creating a quick-and-simple one page web site using Bootstrap proved to me the value of that framework — this “demonstration app” has validated my ideas and met my initial goals. I did have a couple of false starts with other technologies, but this one looks good. And like BootStrap, you really only get the benefit of it when working with experts. My lame web site reflects my one day rush to get some pages up — and a pre-packaged template that was free (or cheap enough to be equivalent). But if I wanted to do something serious with that web site, I would hire an expert.
Similarly, web security is awfully complex these days, and a side-benefit (or main benefit for some) from using Docker is built-in “isolation” that is a good starting point for enhanced security, and as such is a foundational component of this new technology stack. But like bootstrap and Aurora, I am going to need to spend more time with Docker to understand it, and for this project, a my Russian friend Yury took care of Docker (and everything else) so that I could get the project done quickly. But I will return to all of this in 2017. And with any luck it all be even more “mainstream” then than they are today. Aurora, for one, seems like another major competitive advantage to AWS, who already has too many to count!
I was very impressed with how quick and easy it was to create a web site with “twitter bootstrap.js” — but only today did a fellow grad student teach me another benefit: support for multi-language web sites. [I found tutorials at https://www.youtube.com/user/wiredwiki very useful, and the one below basically had my site up and running in less than its the running time (it is well over an hour and designed for non-technical novices). The others from this teacher were on individual bootstrap 3 features, rather than the one-stop-shop provided below.]
And Wencheng Hu, an experienced translator and web developer, provided me the key solution element: a complete BootStrap 3 solution for language labels and names, etc. — documented here at http://usrz.github.io/bootstrap-languages/ complete with flags icons (in three sizes) for the 43 languages it supports!
How well this works for a “web app” or even a “blog” on an ongoing basis, i am not sure. probably a blog should just be done as separate blogs for a variety of reasons, but swapping out labels and UI elements in an application is often useful (if, for a variety of reasons, painful). My 8-language support for my “language learning” apps on iOS taught me a lot about the challenges of making an app work for 8 different audiences…
I am very interested to see the final details of my implementation for my new web site. I will post the implementation particulars, as one-page bootstrap web sites are a very handy and useful tool for SMEs, and this neat trick certainly works quite well for a small number of languages. Further, popular and inexpensive hosting services support the necessary tools with ease and by default, by and large, so the follow up post should be quite short. And soon!
After this post, I have continued to get more input and find more articles.
Here are two:
- http://www.rspective.com/blog/berlin-startups-tech-stack, which contains these nice diagrams:
And lots of other interesting graphs…
In the article noted above, I linked here for graphs like this one (where venture funded startups are rated on an “okay”, “good” and “great” scale (grade inflation?) using blue / red / yellow) as reflected in Angle.co standings.
Here are just three (of many many) samples:
And lastly, I saw this piece has is called:
Which web technology should I use?
A handy guide for non-technical founders
Interesting at least as far as learning how some folks see the world, including very rough shorthand impressions of the “pros and cons” of using different tool sets. The primary starting point advocated is ‘do something fast and cheap to prove your concept and that you are willing to throw away” — not something I’ve ever been a big fan of (since using a technology I know best is usually fastest, and building “throw away” code is a bad habit I never developed) but might be right for some people / situations (e.g. when using mid-level or junior people who only write throw-away code…).
I almost decided to simply add a series of “update” links to my prior post on my quest to understand the current state of “modern web app development”, and in particular, tools, frameworks and environments of choice. Now as ever, many technologists live in their silos, and while the best and most enlighten attempt to glance across at what others are doing, keep up with new ideas and tool kits, the reality is that most top-tier, hard working, delivering-in-a-crunch developer / architects are almost always too busy to do as much of this sort of thing as they’d like. And while I am not one of those, I am also a busy person with many balls in the air, ideas kicking around, prototypes-in-process, apps-in-process, with a real job and various research projects…
I will rectify this with future posts about specific combinations of web app development tools and platforms, where there are available tutorials and low barriers to adoption. And after about five of these, i hope to have come up with a more coherent scheme for comparison.
The headline pretty much tells the tale:
Nicholas Kristof Is Not Smarter Than an Eighth-Grader –
American kids are actually doing decently in math and interpretation, but he’s not.
By Eugene Stern
You can read the original piece here or the Slate version here, but the summative bit gets right to the point, after the why-should-we-be-surprised cherry-picking of two extreme examples to misrepresent the results of the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessments; as shown here (see graphic or follow link to source).
Eugene Stern wraps up with these observations:
But Kristof isn’t willing to do either. He has a narrative of American underperformance in mind, and if the overall test results don’t fit his story, he’ll just go and find some results that do. Thus for the examples in his column, Kristof literally went and picked the two questions out of 88 on which the United States did the worst, and highlighted those in the column. (He gives a third example too, a question in which the U.S. was in the middle of the pack, but the pack did poorly, so the United States’ absolute score looks bad.) Presto! Instead of a story about kids learning stuff and doing decently on a test, we have yet another hysterical screed about Americans “struggling to compete with citizens of other countries.”
Kristof gives no suggestions for what we can actually do better, by the way. But he does offer this helpful advice:
Numeracy isn’t a sign of geekiness, but a basic requirement for intelligent discussions of public policy. Without it, politicians routinely get away with using statistics, as Mark Twain supposedly observed, the way a drunk uses a lamppost: for support rather than illumination.
So do op-ed columnists, apparently.
The propensity of some in the public eye to yearn for “stories” and narratives to support their heartfelt policy positions to the degree that they mis-understand statistics or misinterpret information is unfortunate; but here we have the conflation of two trends — one pointed up by books like “The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, And The Attack On America’s Public Schools” from 1996; the other by googling “kristof disingenuous“.
In any event, if we want “trends”, 2011 data probably isn’t the place to start. Sadly, TIMMS 2015 numbers are a probably over a year away. But meanwhile, there is no shortage of new educational assessment data from the 50 states to dig into, so perhaps policy champions can go there and try, despite the tempting sound-bites and stories, to resist making stuff up.