mf Object Methods Part 2 {mf.object}

This is a series of posts that explains some of the fundamental rules for developing complex JavaScript applications and the mf framework.

In my previous post on the mf object methods I discussed several methods that act against a single object. In this next series of object methods I will begin demonstrating some of the mf object methods that deal with arrays of objects. When we look at applications within the business sphere we in most cases have to deal with large amounts of data that is displayed in grids and other standard user interface implementations. When dealing with this type of data you need to envision, in regards to a grid, what types of behaviour and functionality you need to provide to the consumer. There are some obvious features like sorting and search plus filter. As such we need to provide these types of methods as part of the object methods. In the future of mf I will be developing a store object which will make significant use of these methods. In this post I will discuss the following methods…

  • mf.object.exec
  • mf.object.normalize
  • mf.object.merge
  • mf.object.sort
  • mf.object.difSearch

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mf Object Methods Part 1 {mf.object}

This is a series of posts that explains some of the fundamental rules for developing complex JavaScript applications and the mf framework.

It has been a few weeks since I wrote a post on mf but this has most been due to the time it took to complete all of the object methods available.  Object methods along with array methods are some of the most important methods that any framework can have and as such taking some extra time is required. At present there are 28 methods written and fully tested. Given this number it would obviously be far to much for one single blog post. As a result I will be writing several blog posts each covering several methods at a time. In this post I will discuss the following methods:

  • mf.object.each
  • mf.object.deepEach
  • mf.object.clense
  • mf.object.typeMap
  • mf.object.containsKeys
  • mf.object.containsVals

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Making a Browser Sniffer for mf

This is a series of posts that explains some of the fundamental rules for developing complex JavaScript applications and the mf framework.

One of the first key things that is required in any JavaScript framework is a browser sniffer. Browser sniffers are easy to create and as with all of the modules that will be placed into mf it uses my standard design pattern. Here is the code:

var browser = Object.freeze((function(){
     var app = new String(navigator.userAgent),
     mode = document.documentMode,
     isIE = app.match('MSIE')!==null,
     isSafari = app.match('Safari')!==null && app.match('Chrome')===null,
     isChrome = app.match('Safari')!==null && app.match('Chrome')!==null,
     isFireFox = app.match('Firefox')!==null,
     tests = {
           isSafari : isSafari,
           isChrome : isChrome,
           isFireFox : isFireFox,
           isIE : isIE,
           isIE5 : isIE && mode===5,
           isIE6 : isIE && mode===6,
           isIE7 : isIE && mode===7,
           isIE8 : isIE && mode===8,
           isIE9 : isIE && mode===9,
           isIE10 : isIE && mode===10,
           version : 0,
           isWin : navigator.platform.toLowerCase()==='win32',
           isMac : navigator.platform.toLowerCase()!=='win32',
           isSecure : (window.location.protocol).toLowerCase().substr(0,5)==='https'
     Public = {};
     // get browser version
           tests.version = parseInt(/Firefox\/(\d+\.)/.exec(app)[1],10)
     }else if(isChrome){
           tests.version = parseInt(/Chrome\/(\d+\.)/.exec(app)[1],10)
     }else if(isSafari){
           tests.version = parseInt(/Version\/(\d+\.)/.exec(app)[1],10)
     }else if(isIE) {
           tests.version = parseInt(/MSIE (\d+\.)/.exec(app)[1],10)
     tests.mfCompliant = (isSafari && test.version>4) || (isIE && tests.version >8 && mode>8) || (isChrome && tests.version>20) || (isFireFox && tests.version>14);
     // convert results into anonymous function calls
     for(prop in tests){
           Public[prop]=new Function('return '+tests[prop]+';')
     return Public;                                    

Note that I am adding the mfCompliant property onto the tests object and setting my browser minimum requirements.  I am also not testing for Opera although that certainly could be added in very easily at any point in the future.  Finally I enumerate through the tests object and create anonymous functions within the Public object that return the values of the subsequent property in the tests object.  Note also the the public returned by the outer anonymous function is passed to the Object.freeze method in order to freeze the resulting object. This will prevent users from overriding existing methods or removing them.

In the case of IE9 it does not support the Object.freeze method.  As a result I had to place the following code above this module.

// Ensure we have freeze method on Object for IE9
if((typeof Object.freeze).toLowerCase()!=='function'){
       Object.prototype.freeze = function(o){
              return o

Sine the freeze method returns the object being frozen this little override does the same thing in order to ensure when running the framework in IE9 it does not blow up on you.  Freezing is certainly handy on objects but does not add any direct functionality to the framework.

The mf global variable browser is then returned as belonging as a child object to the framework.  This then allows external users to make calls such as mf.browser.isIE() or mf.browser.isSecure(). Certainly over time there may be other items to add under the browser module but these are the basics.

In my next post I will be fleshing out some other core methods for Objects, Arrays along with some base prototyping of core JavaScript objects such as String and Number.

Why am I writing the mf Framework

I suppose the question of why write yet another framework should be answered to some degree. Over the many years of working with JavaScript developers from junior to senior I have noted a common theme. In almost every case the developer indicates that they know this framework or another framework yet none of them seem to understand how it is written. It is akin to knowing how to drive a car yet not understanding how it works. I think that is a dangerous mindset for both driving and writing JavaScript.

All JavaScript frameworks have common methods each with its’ own unique slant on implementation. All frameworks consist of browser sniffers, DOM normalization plus Event and Component Management along with methods to make life a little easier for the programmer. Each of these concepts offer the same or similar implementation yet there seems to be a gross lack of understanding on how they work.

So the goal of creating the mf framework is to demonstrate to JavaScript developers the basic concepts of how frameworks are put together in order to further their understanding of other frameworks. So like driving a car you should have some idea of how the engine actually works!

So, in the next several months I will be building up the framework piece by piece with one or more blog posts on each of the components that will constitute the end product.  Once I have the framework developed to a certain point I will also be placing it up on Google code for people to play with, enhance or throw mean reviews back at me.


Creating Object Properties {the dangling participle of JS Objects}

This is a series of posts that explains some of the fundamental rules for developing complex JavaScript applications.

As most of us know, well I would hope most of us that is, properties in objects have some fundamental flaws in them, that, like many situations in JavaScript our bits and bites are left hanging out!  Object properties that are exposed publicly, whether in a module pattern or an instance have absolutely zero control over them.

If one does some research however you will dig up the Object.defineProperty method and supporting methods that as of IE9 are now common across all modern browsers.  If you are interested in reading up on the defineProperty Object method I have found the best documentation to be over at Mozilla . While Object.defineProperty does provide us enhancements such as read only, freezing and preventing deletion is certainly does not, in my opinion, provide much power. A property should provide the following:

  • Verbose setters and getter methods,
  • Conditional checking on setters,
  • Chaining of base object setters,
  • Watches and events.

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Singleton to Prototype Design Guidelines

This is a series of posts that explains some of the fundamental rules for developing complex JavaScript applications.

I am a real bugger when it comes to how my code is organized. Given the advanced user interfaces that we have today I have often noticed that JavaScript developers have become, for lack of a better adjective, bloody lazy!  Before we get into the singleton design patter a short discussion is warranted on when a singleton should be used versus a class that supports instantiation.

The most common examples of a singleton are existing JavaScript frameworks such as ExtJs, jQuery, etc. In essence we would only ever have a single instance of each of these frameworks each represented by its own unique namespace Ext and $ respectively. The other most common example of the singleton pattern is the root namespace that represents your JavaScript application because you would under most circumstances only have one. Note I said most circumstances.  There is often the case in the real world where a requirement initially requires a singleton pattern but over time it becomes evident that a class instance would be better.  The golden rule of ‘the only constant is change’ should always be kept in mind when designing your code structures. The purpose of this post is to demonstrate how to effectively use the singleton pattern properly and in such a way as to allow for the easy migration to a class pattern. The secondary goal is to show how writing your singletons in this fashion leads to consistency of code which is something we should all strive for!

First let’s look at the basic singleton design pattern that I often see exemplified on the web.

var mySingleton = {
                 globalVar1 : null,
                 globalVar2 : null,
                 myMethod1 : function(){},
                 myMethod2 : function(){}

So I will state this very clearly and strongly, the above is NOT a singleton.  In my opinion this is a simple object that does nothing more provide a hierarchical structure of variables and methods under a root namespace.  For starters this pattern does NOT use closures and does not have the concept of private/protected vs public methods and variables. At a minimum the singleton design pattern should be written as follows.

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Dynamic Drag Alignment Rulers {elegance sometimes happens}

In most cases when you work on a product, requests from ‘those who shall be obeyed’ and I don’t mean your mother, are fairly simple.  You are given a functional idea or a behavior to be implemented within a product and you say to yourself ‘yep, no problem’. In other words, not often is there a challenge. Then there are those rare cases where you come across a task where you need to think outside of the box and we all crave those tasks. Such is a task that I recently faced on a product I work on.  In essence think of the product as an online version of Microsoft PowerPoint, it’s not, but it’s the closest I can think of in the context of the post. The request was to display rulers top, bottom, center, middle, left and right on the selected object. As the object was dragged around the screen when any of these rulers came into alignment on the X or Y of any other object they were to be displayed.  A very similar UI behavior that you would see in PhotoShop, for example.  To make it even more difficult the rulers had to gradually get stronger as it got close to any alignment on any other element on the page on its 3 horizontal or 3 vertical axis!

So imagine the below scenario:

So in the above image there are three shapes.  The blue square has been selected and when any of the 3 horizontal rulers comes into contact with the top, middle or bottom of the other shapes they would need to appear.  Same goes for the vertical if the user where to drag the blue square to the right. So this means that for each element/shape on the page there are 3 vertical and 3 horizontal points to compare to the current points on the actively dragged element, in this case the blue box. Now consider you could have any number of shapes you need to align to! This leads one to the conclusion that any sort of heavy on the fly calculation while dragging will simply destroy performance.  So the question then becomes how can we do this with ZERO calculations/conditions while the selected element is being dragged.  The answer is YES we can and here is how. Just a quick note regarding some of the code, in order to preserve the privacy of the application I am not using the general namespace we use for our toolkit that provides DOM manipulation. However you can easily see how to do this in jQuery, ExtJS etc.  The point is the solution not so much the implementation. Continue reading