Zack Grossbart is an engineer, designer, and author. He's a founding member of the Spiffy UI project, the architect of the WordPress Editorial Calendar, and a Consulting Engineer with NetIQ. Zack began loading DOS from a floppy disk when he was five years old. He first worked professionally with computers when he was 15 and started his first software company when he was 16. Zack lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his wife and daughter.
Let’s get a few things out of the way first. This isn’t your regular Smashing Magazine article. It’s not a “how to“; it won’t show you how to build a better menu or improve your project tomorrow. This article shows you how a core problem in computer science works and why we're all pretending we know something for certain when we really have no idea.
You’re looking at Smashing Magazine right now because you’re standing on the shoulders of a giant assumption called "P versus NP". It’s a math problem that protects governments, runs the Internet and makes online shopping possible.
Static analyzers look at code and find problems before you run it. They do simple checks, like enforcing syntax (for example, tabs instead of spaces), and more holistic checks, like making sure your functions aren’t too complex. Static analyzers also find errors that you can’t find with testing, like instances of == when you meant ===.
Static typing is great because it keeps you out of trouble. Dynamic typing is great because it gets out of your way and lets you get your work done faster. The debate between strongly and dynamically typed languages rages on, but understanding the issue starts with weak typing and languages such as C.
C treats everything like a number. A character like a or 7 or % is the number of the ASCII symbol representing it; “true” and “false” are just 1 and 0. C defines variables with types such as int for integer and char for character, but that just defines how much memory to use. To access the variable and print it out, I need to know the type.
Animation makes games real. Movement adds excitement to a game and makes the characters more realistic. In this article, we’ll look at the Cocos2D library and how it supports programmatic animations in iPhone games.
This article is part of a series that teaches you how to create iPhone games based on the open-source game Seven Bridges. Make sure to check out the first article in the series, “Designing an Open-Source iPhone Game” and look at the source code in the Seven Bridges GitHub repository.
I love games and I’m a huge math nerd, so I made a new iPhone game based on a famous math problem called The Seven Bridges of Königsberg. I’m selling it in the App Store, but I also want to share it with everyone, so I made it open source.
This article is the first in a series that will walk through iOS programming using this game as an example. This first article gives you an overview of the game and of iOS programming in general. We’ll look at a few specific pieces and see how the whole project fits together.
You've presented the new website and everyone loves it. The design is crisp, the code is bug-free, and you're ready to release. Then someone asks, “Does it work in Japanese?”
You break out in a cold sweat: you have no idea. The website works in English, and you figured other languages would come later. Now you have to rework the whole app to support other languages. Your release date slips, and you spend the next two months fixing bugs, only to find that you’ve missed half of them.
Your website works. Now let’s make it work faster. Website performance is about two things: how fast the page loads, and how fast the code on it runs. Plenty of services will make your website load faster, from minimizers to CDNs, but making it run faster is up to you.
Little changes in your code can have gigantic performance impacts. A few lines here or there could mean the difference between a blazingly fast website and the dreaded “Unresponsive Script” dialog. This article shows you a few ways to find those lines of code with Chrome Developer Tools.
E-commerce runs on secrets. Those secrets let you update your blog, shop at Amazon and share code on GitHub. Computer security is all about keeping your secrets known only to you and the people you choose to share them with.
We’ve been sharing secrets for centuries, but the Internet runs on a special kind of secret sharing called public-key cryptography. Most secret messages depend on a shared secret—a key or password that everyone agrees on ahead of time. Public-key cryptography shares secret messages without a shared secret key and makes technologies like SSL possible.
When my WordPress plugin had only three users, it didn’t matter much if I broke it. By the time I reached 100,000 downloads, every new update made my palms sweat.