There's something very strange about the concept of follow-through. Ask a physicist, and they'll tell you that nothing you do with the club after you hit a golf ball, or with a bat after you make contact with a baseball, has any real effect on the path of the ball. Nevertheless, coaches always emphasize the follow-through – often to the extent of downplaying the moment of contact. What's going on? The secret to follow-through isn't that there's some magic in the motion after the point of contact.

Why should I register for your site?

Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler. That's one of my favorite Einstein quotes. Unfortunately, it seems to be ignored more often than not in the world of web development – to the detriment of a great many applications. There's one realm in particular where I think we as developers (and designers) typically fail to apply this principle, and that is in the registration process. In my experience, application developers start from the assumption that they'll have the typical user account, created by a registration process that (at a minimum) asks for an email address and a password.

My beef with panels

[[posterous-content:uleIIrdnzGuxAkFulgdg]] CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 I've been to a lot of events over the past few years, and I've drawn a number of conclusions about various sorts of presentations. One of the most universal of these is that panels suck*. If you've been lucky enough to avoid panels in the past, let me enlighten you: a panel consists of a group of people (generally 3-5) who sit up front and answer questions posed by a moderator.

Refreshing the Triangle

Triangle-area friends! If you're free this Thursday (September 24th), come on out to Bronto's offices for Refresh the Triangle. I'm going to be giving a talk on The Future of Data – or, less impressively, the recent movements in the database landscape. This'll be an interesting presentation, since the Refresh audience is generally a mix between designers and developers. I imagine this particular meeting will be developer-heavy, but I'm working to make the talk as designer- and front-end-dev-friendly as possible.

Application templates in Rails 3

Here's a trick for creating modular templates in Rails 3: use the apply method Say you like to use Rails templates, but you find them a little too inflexible – you want to use Cucumber, jQuery, and MongoDB, but not always together. You could create separate templates for each combination (and in fact, with Rails 2.3.x that's what you have to do), but in Rails 3, things get a little easier.

My workflow - now Cucumber-enhanced!

[[posterous-content:npromobotiplCJFzxDBp]]So I've been using Cucumber somewhat heavily for a while now, on both personal and client projects, and I'm starting to settle into a comfortable rhythm with it. At first, though, I found integrating features into my workflow extremely disconcerting. It went something like this: I'd write a feature, run it, and watch it flag half the steps as 'pending'. Then, I'd drop down into the step definitions and fill them out with the appropriate lower-level code (e.

WindyCityRails recap

So I spent a lovely 30 or so hours in Chicago over the weekend for WindyCityRails (as I mentioned previously), and despite the short stay, I had a great time. David and I flew out midday on Friday, and quickly established (and met) our food priorities: hot dogs for lunch, deep-dish for dinner. Saturday was the conference, which started off with a talk by Dean Wampler on functional programming. I was really pleased to see the talk, especially once I realized that it played on some of the same themes that I'd be addressing later in the day (polyglottism and high school learning, specifically).

Speaking updates

Several things have come together over the past week or so, with the result that I've pretty much solidified my speaking engagements for the rest of 2009. At each event, I'll be talking about alternative databases, domain modeling, and related things – they're all variations on my "Comics" Is Hard talk, though with distinct differences based on the audiences. [[posterous-content:xflepemxaBHtswrlaFAn]] First up, I'll be in Chicago this weekend for WindyCityRails (along with my co-worker David Eisinger).

Polyglot persistence

Polyglot programming was everywhere in the (developer-centric) news what, last year? That is the idea that good developers should be competent, if not fluent, in a number of different programming languages, because different languages are good for different things. Perl, for instance, was built for string manipulation and report generation, while Java was... not. The programmer who knows both, then, is better able to handle a wide variety of problems quickly and efficiently.

Go west, young developer

[[posterous-content:sgnwcAejwckatlhHxfhx]]Developer Day has visited Durham, DC, and Boston so far.... Isn't it about time we left the east coast and headed west? Developer Day Boulder is coming on October 10th! We're still in the process of finalizing details, but so far we've got Chad Fowler keynoting, David Eisinger speaking on using email as an interface for your application, and Rob Sanheim talking about building in the cloud - and if the past is any indication, the rest of the speakers (who'll be announced over the next few weeks) will be fantastic developers and practitioners in a variety of languages, technologies, and domains.