Updates on Personal Development Environment

IDEs

I have tested several IDEs lately and in the end I came back to Emacs.

Since last week I have also started to fix my Emacs customization. I have moved to using org-mode to manage my startup files and started the process based on the configuration done by Kieran Healy on his Emacs Starter Kit for the Social Sciences.

I chose this starter-kit instead of the other options – they are listed on Kieran’s code – because it already added some scientific packages that I am interested on.

I am still fixing my customizations to different org files and adding comments to them. It is amazing how messy they were before and I could even find some duplicate / conflicting definitions.

Doing some review from time to time should be a lot easier now. I hope that maintaining the code should also be easier.

There are some drawbacks, of course, but I prefer addressing them on a case by case basis. One of them is not being able to use the customize tool from Emacs and adding the customizations to my .org files. So, I use the customize tool, test and when things are working as I want them, I move the file to the correct .org file.

Javascript Library

I have also changed from using jQuery to using ExtJS. ExtJS provides me with faster deployment rate and is also more aimed towards the type of application that I am writing.

It is not an easy change, as I was used to work with jQuery and had a lot of logic already implemented. I’m running both in parallel while I convert to using ExtJS alone.

One of the main reasons for the change was that with jQuery I kept glueing code from different plugins and that had different “quality standards”. Using ExtJS I can also add different plugins, but the base library already provides a lot of what I need. Actually, I did not add any external plugin yet (only for testing purposes).

All in all, it is being a good change.

Documentation

I have also switched the method I use to document the systems I work on.

There are two different types of documentation: code and system documentation. For code documentation, I am still using comments on my code along with some complimentary design notes.

For system documentation (user manual, system API, reference, etc.) I am using org-mode.

Org-mode with org-babel allows me to add diagrams, formulas and other external images that help me on describing the processes and the inner workings of the systems.

I have moved from first writing code to make what I need work and then documenting as I go to first documenting the exact needs, define the API, draft sketches, etc. and only then writing code.

Coding speed has increased, with a better quality documentation. The whole process, though, takes a bit longer but is more pleasant to the end user as things are better thought and the interface is more consistent.

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