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Issue № 324

Tales From the (en)Crypt(ion). Protoype The Back End, And Do It Your Way With Sinatra.

Rapid Prototyping with Sinatra

by Al Shaw11 Comments

If you’re a web designer or developer, you're well acquainted with prototyping. From raw wireframing to creating interfaces in Photoshop, designers map out how sites will work before they create them. Over the past few years, the protoyping process has changed significantly. With browser makers generally agreeing on web standards and the rise of tools such as Firebug and WebKit’s web inspector, we can sometimes skip Photoshop and go straight to the browser. Plus, JavaScript frameworks like jQuery let us play with browser events with only a few lines of code. But what if we need to do even more? As websites increasingly become web apps, we now need to prototype backend functionality, too. Learn how Sinatra, a so-called “micro” web framework, helps you create real (albeit simple) web apps extremely fast, letting you prototype flows and behavior you may want to integrate into a final product.

Web Cryptography: Salted Hash and Other Tasty Dishes

by Lyle Mullican30 Comments

One of the most powerful security tools available to web developers is cryptography, essentially a process by which meaningful information is turned into random noise, unreadable except where specifically intended. A web developer working on an underpowered netbook in his basement now has access to cryptosystems that major governments could only have dreamed of a few decades ago. And ignorance of cryptography is not bliss. You may think your web app’s profile is too low to worry about hackers, but attacks are frequently automated, not targeted, and a compromise of the weakest system can often give access to better-protected systems when people re-use passwords across multiple sites. Learn the three broad categories of cryptosystems that commonly relate to web applications and begin strategizing how to make your site secure.

More from A List Apart

Columnists

Laura Kalbag on Freelance Design

I Don’t Like It

The most dreaded of all design feedback is the peremptory, “I don’t like it.” Rather than slinking back to the drawing board, it’s important to get clarity on what the client is reacting to. Guiding this conversation can turn a show-stopper into a mutual win.

From the Blog

Longform Content with Craft Matrix

Jason Santa Maria recently shared some thoughts about pacing content, and my developer brain couldn’t help but think about how I’d go about building the examples he talked about. The one fool-proof way to achieve heavily art-directed layouts like those is to write the HTML by hand. The problem is that content managers are not always developers, and the code can get complex pretty quickly. That’s why we use content management systems—to give content managers easier and more powerful control over content.

Ten Years Ago in ALA: Dynamic Text Replacement

Ten years ago this month in Issue 183, A List Apart published Stewart Rosenberger’s “Dynamic Text Replacement.” Stewart lamented text styling as a “dull headache of web design” with “only a handful of fonts that are universally available, and sophisticated graphical effects are next to impossible using only standard CSS and HTML.” To help ease these pains, Stewart presented a technique for styling typography by dynamically replacing text with an image.