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Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 in Architecture | 1 comment

BaaS platforms: Parse.com, Kinvey.com, Buddy.com and Quickblox.com

BaaS platforms: Parse.com, Kinvey.com, Buddy.com and Quickblox.com

A few weeks I started to play with some of the BaaS platforms out there.

I am toying with creating a iOS app for an idea I had. Some of they key areas of functionality it will need include:

  • Twitter and Facebook Authentication
  • Chat room
  • Sending and Retrieving images to the server
  • Message broadcast

Instead of developing everything, I thought of looking at one the BaaS platforms. What follows is NOT a detailed review. I played with 4 BaaS providers in one evening, so lets be fair to them and not make snap judgements. I’m just relaying my experiences with them when quickly looking at them. There are so many variables…for example, maybe I’m using a different version of xcode than what the sample was built in that it’s hard without deeper debugging to come to grips with the issue.

I first signed up with Buddy.com. The feature set looked very promising for what I need. Sign-up was easy but I struggled to get up and running a little. The documentation was not as impressive as some of the others. Although I ran into some roadblocks, I’ll come back to take a more detailed look at this one as the feature set is everything I would need.

I then turned to Kinvey.com. Clearly a well baked and mature solution, though the documentation did not appear to me to be as friendly as Parse. I will come back and make another post on Kinvey

Parse.com was the final one I looked at…and turned out to be, in my opinion, the best of all of them. The sign-up process was well done, the getting started samples were great and actually worked right out of the box, and the documentation was amazing. Plus of course, the feature set of the platform was exactly what I needed.

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Posted by on Jun 28, 2013 in Architecture | 1 comment

Using Cloudflare when moving hosts

Using Cloudflare when moving hosts

I have a relatively large forum I run. I keep running into the limits of my host and have been forced to move hosts twice (the cloud host, while scalable, tended to be a bit slow).

As you know however, moving hosts can be a real pain. All because of DNS propagation. The last time I moved hosts, I had some users that couldn’t access the new site for more than 72 hours since their DNS wasn’t resolving to the new host.

After the last move, I also signed up with Cloudflare to try speed up my overall site performance – Cloudflare’s CDN is not the subject of this article. Rather, I want to express how pleased I am with their DNS services.

Because my name servers point to CloudFlare, when I moved hosts I did not have to update my name servers at my registrar. Instead, I simply changed my Cloudflare record to point to my new IP address. And because this is Cloudflares network, they instantly updated all their nodes with my new IP. As a result, there was NO need to sit through the painful DNS propagation.  My only downtime was the time it took for me to backup the site and FTP and restore it to the new server.

For anybody who has suffered through the DNS propagation before, you’ll appreciate how nice this is to avoid.

Couple this seamless IP change, along with the fact that I can easily transfer cPanel accounts, I feel somewhat liberated: I’m no longer beholden to a host. I can change hosts quite easily now with nothing more than a few minutes downtime.

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Posted by on Feb 5, 2013 in Architecture | 0 comments

Google Real-time analytics

Google Real-time analytics

I gotta admit I’m really impressed with Google Real-time analytics. Not so much from a UI perspective (tends to be a little “clicky” to get what I want. For example 4 clicks to see my search traffic: Click Traffic Sources, Click Sources, Click Search, Click Overview). But I am impressed from an engineering point of view.

In terms of web stats, measuring the bounce rate is problematic because given the stateless nature of the conversation, you never know when someone really left your site. So if you have a very long product page and the person reads the entire page but doesn’t go anywhere else, well that’s still considered a bounce.

Not so with real-time analytics. Somehow it detects leaving a page within seconds. Which makes me think there must be some form of asynchronous polling going on. Yet, the regular analytics is incapable of knowing an actual bounce.

I don’t know what magic is happening here. I should probably sniff the traffic and see if there is some ping happening back to google while the page is being displayed.

 

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Posted by on Oct 8, 2010 in Architecture | 2 comments

Who still doesn’t get 3-tier?

Who still doesn’t get 3-tier?

This post has the danger of sounding condescending, but, I really don’t mean it to come across that way.

I was at a client site the other day and on the way to the conference room, we had to walk through the developer section. As we walked through, I glanced at the whiteboard and saw this diagram. Now, if you’re in IT, in this day and age, I’d think you know all about n-tier architecture. I mean, did they really need to still explain how the tiers are separated?

I’m telling myself, that perhaps, somebody from the business side of the house walked over to IT and asked them to explain this “3 tier stuff”. At least, I hope thats what it was. And honestly, thats fair…I can see that maybe some folks on the business side are new to this.

I also hope it wasn’t the result of an interview. If I were interviewing a technical candidate and asked him to explain the architecture of the last product/project he worked on, and he/she drew this block diagram, I’d politely thank them for their time (and then steal the diagram for this blog post).

As I said, I’m not trying to be condescending. I only found this interesting in that it was drawn on the whiteboard where the developers sit, and I can only hope this wasn’t being explained to technical folk.

That said, I did find the diagram timely…I’ve been mulling over a lot as of late on the hole J2EE dug for itself with is levels of abstraction. It can take seasoned developers days to roundtrip from the UI to the DB, editing countless XML config files along the way. I have no doubt that its time to return to some simplicity…indeed…sanity, in the programming world, and, as a result, perhaps the diagram above deserves more merit than I’ve given it here.

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