Archive for the ‘Programming’ Category

File Under: Programming, Web Apps

WebRTC, Online Code Editor Team Up for Real-Time Coding

Collaborating with Codassium Image:

It’s still going to be some time before WebRTC technology starts to deliver cool apps, but even today developers are quickly moving from the realm of cool WebRTC experiments, like the Mozilla/Google phone call demo, to useful apps like Codassium.

WebRTC is a proposed standard — currently being refined by the W3C — with the goal of providing a web-based set of tools that any device can use to share audio, video and data in real time. It’s still in the early stages, but WebRTC has the potential to supplant Skype, Flash and many native apps with web-based alternatives that work on any device.

Codassium uses WebRTC to bring together WebRTC-based video chat and Mozilla’s Ace code editor. The result is what Wreally Studios, creators of Codassium, call “a better way to conduct remote interviews.” Of course Codassium could be used for more than just interviews — think code reviews, remote pair programming or even just discussing code with remote employees.

To use Codassium you’ll need to be using a web browser that supports WebRTC — recent versions of Firefox and Chrome will both work. Head on over to Codassium, click the Start button and allow the site to access your camera and microphone. Once the video chat and Ace editor load, just click the Invite button and send the resulting link to the person you’d like to work with.

GitHub Personalizes Gists for Easier Code Sharing

This is not an Octocat. Image: GitHub.

GitHub has personalized the code sharing site’s “Gists” feature, changing the URL to include your GitHub username, rather than just a random, anonymous number.

The change means that you can easily get to a list of all your Gists by heading to<username>/.

Gists, which started off as a simple way to dump and share snippets and short pieces of reusable code (something akin to the older Pastebin), were recently upgraded to be full-fledged Git repos

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behind the scenes. That means Gists are automatically versioned, forkable and usable as Git repos, complete with diffs.

Now that Gists are considerably more than just Pastebin-style code snippets, it makes sense to offer users a quick and easy way to get to their Gists from anywhere thanks to a memorable URL.

The newly personalized Gists come with an automatic URL redirect. So if your Gist used to live at it will now be redirected to As some GitHub users point out on Hacker News, there’s a flaw in GitHub’s system that means anyone can register a numeric username and cause a Gist to redirect to the wrong page. Hopefully GitHub will fix that in the near future..

Find the Droids You’re Looking for With GitHub’s Powerful New Search Tools

GitHub’s Octobi Wan Catnobi. Image: GitHub

Open source is about building on the work of others and not having to reinvent the wheel. But if you can’t find the code you need then you’re stuck reinventing the wheel. Again.

To help you find exactly the wheels your project needs, code hosting giant GitHub has announced a new, much more powerful search tool that peers inside GitHub repositories and offers dozens of filters to help you discover the code you need.

The new search further cements GitHub’s place as the go-to source not just for publishing, but also discovering, code on the web.

While GitHub’s new search lacks the web-wide reach of more general code search engines like Google’s once-mighty Code Search (now a hollow shell of its former self), it’s likely to return more useful results thanks to some nice extras like the ability to see recent activity and narrow results by the number of users, stars and forks.

GitHub’s advanced search page now supports operators like @username to limit results to just your repositories (or another user’s repos), code from only one repository (repo:name) or even code from a particular path within a repo. You can also limit by file extension, repo size, number of forks, number of stars, number of followers, number of repos and user location.

While the advanced operators make a quick way to search, there’s no need to memorize them all. The new advanced search form allows you to craft your query using multiple fields, while it displays the shorthand version at the top the page so you learn as you go.

Under the hood GitHub’s new search is powered by an ElasticSearch cluster which live-indexes your code as you push it to GitHub. The results you see will include any public repositories, as well as any private repositories that you have access to.

The GitHub blog also notes that, “to ensure better relevancy, we’re being conservative in what we add to the search index.” That means, for example, that forks will not be in search results (unless the fork has more stars than the parent repository). While that may mean you occasionally miss a bit of code, it goes a long way toward reducing a problem that plagues many other code search engines — the overwhelming amount of duplicate results.

GitHub’s more powerful search has turned up one unintended consequence — exposed data. It’s much easier to search for anything on the site, including, say, usernames and passwords. As it turns out many people seem to have everything from SSH keys to Gmail passwords stored in public GitHub repos. There’s a discussion about the issue over on Hacker News. The ability to find things like exposed passwords isn’t new, but the new search tool does make it easier than ever. Let this be a reminder of something that’s hopefully obvious to Webmonkey readers — never store passwords or private keys on a public site. And if you find someone doing that, do the right thing and let them know.

For more details on everything that’s new in GitHub’s search page, head on over to the GitHub blog.

GitHub Supercharges ‘Gists’ for Quick and Easy Code Sharing

Image: GitHub.

Social coding giant GitHub continues to crank out the hits. The company recently made it easy to create new files through its web interface and now GitHub has launched a completely rewritten version of GitHub Gist.

Gists are a way to dump and share snippets and short pieces of reusable code — too short to bother creating a full-fledged Git repository, but something you’d like to save and share nonetheless — covering roughly the same use case as something like the much older Pastebin. Or at least that used to be the case.

The new gists are considerably more powerful. The rewrite actually turns gists into full Git repositories, so they are automatically versioned, forkable and usable as Git repos, complete with diffs.

Gists are also now searchable — complete with the ability to filter searches by language — and there’s a new Discover page as well.

Like normal GitHub repos, gists now offer the Ace code editor with its syntax highlighting and automatic indenting. While the Ace editor is nice, my favorite way to create gists is through editor plugins like this one for Vim, this one for Emacs or this one for Sublime Text 2.

File Under: Programming

Video: Parsing Horrible Things with Python

The “horrible thing” in developer Erik Rose’s talk from this year’s PyCon is the Mediawiki syntax, but that’s just a jumping off point for one of the best overviews of data parsing that I’ve run across. If you’ve got a project that involves parsing, or are, like me, considering one, this talk is a must-watch.

This is PyCon, so much of the talk focuses on parsing in Python, but there’s plenty of broader, dare I say, “parsing philosophy” that make it well worth a watch even if you don’t end up using the specific Python parsing libraries Rose mentions.