Category Archives: Web Development

I try to leave work and personal separate so that is why I created a separate blog category strictly for website development. In this section I write about industry battles, techniques, web technologies, and everything web development.

Developing Sites for the Absence of JavaScript

This is a topic that is highly debated in the web development industry. The transition of Web 1.0 to 2.0 has caused a lot of confusion in regards to developing websites for the absence of JavaScript. Most modern day websites will simply not work since JavaScript was highly depended on during the development life cycle. With that said, here are a list of pros and cons which can help you decide if JavaScript should be highly depended on.

Pros of JavaScript Dependency

  • JavaScript can help to increase RAD (Rapid Application Development).
  • 98% of visitors have JavaScript enabled according to http://developer.yahoo.com/blogs/ydn/many-users-javascript-disabled-14121.html
  • Frontend developers are able to contribute more to the project.
  • JavaScript hacks to fix things for CSS. Increased development. Kinda lazy, but it saves time so I have to put it down as a pro.
  • JavaScript might help reduce the bandwidth however those larger JS files must get downloaded anyway.

Cons of JavaScript Dependency

  • Most importantly, developers cannot control how browsers are evolving especially these days with so many flavors such as webkit, mozilla, msie, etc. When an update get’s pushed to the operating system and or the browser level, this increases the chances of bugs and JavaScript will not work as designed. Many ecommerce sites would lose thousands to millions of dollars in revenue depending on how quickly this can be fixed. Take a look at Amazon.com with JavaScript disabled. Going back to what I’ve mentioned in the pros list, those 98% of visitors will not have a working website if issues occurred. I’ve spent countless hours fixing JavaScript issues due to this exact reason.
  • Proxies are becoming more and more popular especially with the latest reports on the Government spying on internet activity and the increase of zero day exploits. Most web proxies disable JavaScript such as HideMyAss.com so the application will not work if you need to increase your browsing security by using a proxy. Again, proxies are becoming more and more popular due to all the attacks on the net.
  • Design that could be done with all CSS and HTML are being ignored and depended on with JavaScript to fix them.
  • A lot of applications floating on the net have vulnerabilities because JavaScript was the only sanitation and validation method. The backend developer must have been lazy and didn’t add in the necessary checks.

Personal Advice

Some may hate it, some may flame and some may cry about it, but… Let’s go back to the Web 1.0 days and start developing website without the dependency of JavaScript. It’s seriously not that hard. In fact, it should be easier! Removing a single technology like JavaScript can actually increase application development since it weeds out potential bugs and other issues that may be encountered. Create the application so it performs the normal HTTP requests, form posts, etc. Get rid of the AJAX as a dependency when developing new sites, add it in after the site works like a normal website should. This will assure that backend validation checks and loop holes are secure where it matters the most.

Redesigning the visual look and feel of the website has become much easier. Lets rip out all the JavaScript and change the visual effects. The client dislikes what he sees, well… at least we can continue to login, submit forms, and have a functional website still. Frontend development is extremely tedious especially when it’s the part of the application everyone is looking at. “Can you move that over 1 more pixel to the left?”… Well instead of worrying about this 1 damn pixel, at least the application is functional and working. stdin, stdout… Since the design level can be very tedious, this will save some time by slashing visual enhancements so the system by itself (without js) can get to market much quicker. Once the application is developed without JavaScript, the frontend developer has a much easier time planning on how the visual enhancements are to be made rather than stuck on that 1 pixel. Commonalities of the UI can be abstract etc.

Some developers may claim having to maintain more than 1 application. This is not necessarily true if JavaScript is added after the normal backend development. Some applications are written with the absence of JavaScript such as Amazon.com. Disable JavaScript, inspect the source, you will see that there’s JS included all over however the browser simply ignores them. This same concept may occur from a single error that caused all JavaScript to break… This error can be introduced by browser updates, operating system updates, or simply a bad push to production. Some companies force their backend developers to develop with JavaScript turned off to completely separate frontend from backend.

Use feature detection such as Modernizr since browsers are evolving so much that simple browser and version checks are a thing of the past. No wonder why jQuery had deprecated the $.browser object. Really, do you really want to keep track of which browser at which version has a specific event such as mouseenter and mouseleave? Modernizr gets rid of all the browser and version confusion allowing features to degrade gracefully. It’s lead by Paul Irish a frontend guru who works at Google and a huge contributor to open source development, a highly respected person. I’ve been implementing this awesome software in many of my projects lately and have nothing but great things to say about it.

If you find that your application fully depends on JavaScript 100%, i.e. everything is AJAX and all the links are hashed (if there are even anchors or href’s), all stdout is JSON or XML, nothing works with the absence of JS. This means the backend system was designed and dictated by a frontend developer. Now, if you can right click and open in new tab… that’s harmony between the backend and frontend… increase the user experience by providing them additional ways to multitask! The very popular Twitter Bootstrap updated their design to allow href links and using JS to override the default behavior so it will work with JS disabled (data-target attribute)… this feature was highly requested and for a good reason… I could get into all sorts of user experience designs such as the back and forward buttons on the browser and using browser history push states etc. but that will be saved for another post. I think I’ve ranted enough…

Conclusion

JavaScript should not be used to “program” (script) your web application. It should be used as an enhancement to the application, not a dependency. Let the backend do the programming and the frontend do the visual enhancements. With this approach you may find that the application is a lot more modular and maintainable for the long term. The application will also serve to those 2% of visitors with JavaScript disabled as well as continue to serve to those 98% when JavaScript stops working from the problems as stated earlier in this post. If JavaScript is 100% a dependency for a specific part of the application that depends on visual click, drag, features, a nice noscript tag should be used to alert visitors that their experience will be enhanced with turning it on. At least they will not have a blank page or a infinite loader displayed. Increase your defensive coding by developing sites with the absence of JavaScript.

Sure, we’ve all developed applications without the absence of JS in mind… I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite just this is what I’ve found to be more elegant. Yes, I’ve developed with JavaScript highly depended on and I’ve learned from my mistakes. Anyway, my blog is functional without JS. If you disable it, you won’t see the AJAX cube feature, the homepage slider, however you will still be able to read my blog. That is the entire point of this post after all.

We can’t control how and when browsers are updated.

Money Online

Back to Generating Income Online

It has been quite a few years since I was making some extra cash from displaying advertisements on my websites.  My first few websites that had introduced me to making some solid cash online were msmods.com, iconscripts.com and plusfriends.net.  These websites were related to the whole MySpace niche and helped generate over 160 dollars per week in advertisements alone. Msmods.com was my best traffic generating website that had earned over 20,000 impressions per day which was equivalent to 20 – 30 dollars per day.  The money was awesome especially being a poor college student having to pay for education out of pocket.  I remember not having enough money to buy a math book and I received an adsense direct deposit one day that made it possible to purchase the book I needed for class (thank you Google!).  I reminiscence the good old days and wished I had the web development knowledge I possess now back then.

Changes I Have Noticed Over the Years

Adsense payouts and CPM earnings have decreased dramatically.  It has become almost impossible right now to make a solid earning from this advertisement network just because the depreciated value of CPM and CPC.  I remember earning over $3.50 cents from a single click 3 years ago and now I would be lucky to earn only a few cents.  I keep telling myself that it is the economy that had depreciated the value however understanding there are over millions of websites now than there had been 3 years ago could make a huge impact on the pay outs meaning there are more web spaces that are marketing versus websites that are paying for marketing.  I remember having CPX Interactive as an advertisement network and they only excepted websites that had a lot of unique visitors.  I had earned over 50 dollars from CPM in a single week from this publishing network.  It’s amazing how only a few years can have a great impact on the value of advertisements.

My Battle Getting Back In

I’ve always dreamed about being my own boss, working from home (in my pajamas :) ) and having a website that could help me retire early.  It’s motivation that keeps my spirits up and force me to keep up the hard work.  I don’t mind working extra hard hours each day since it keeps me up to date with the latest web technologies.  I love learning about web development.  It is my pride therefore I will use it to my advantage in creating my new successful ventures.  I have promised myself to stop worrying about the potential monetary earnings from displaying ads, rather focus on creating some usable applications that are more powerful and have an impact on certain niches.  I have also decided to work on smaller niches rather than the “go big or go home” attitude that will simply be overwhelming and too much work to keep up with.  I’m a married man now and do not have the time that I use to in creating sites that only generate over 160 dollars per week.  I’d rather create an application that becomes viral in hopes to generate over thousands per week.

My business plan is to create small niche websites such as CRM (customer relationship management systems) that actually have a recurring payments system rather than hoping for visitors to click on google links.  My most successful website that had the highest income rate was Plusfriends.net where I had sold an actual service through a paypal checkout which in return had earned over 50 dollars per week as a steady income.  Through trial and error, I have experienced that selling a service will be more rewarding in the long haul.

My Plans for a Successful Website Business Model

I have learned that websites that auto generate unique content such as community sites like a forum or blog can generate the most income.  Elegant web applications that incorporate a recurring service fee can also be very successful. I have plans to create some new web application that hopefully become viral and an overall success.  It’s a risk that every entrepreneur makes, investing time and energy in “chasing the dollar”.  I have also planned to work even harder and crank out some awesome code to finally find homes on the web for all my domains I have lingering in my godaddy domain manager (and there are over 21 domains).  If I create some usable small niche websites that can generate over 5,000 unique visitors each, that is as good as having one website that generates over 100,000 unique visitors per day.

Working with My Wife to Create a Family Business

My wife hates the fact that I am so motivated and the fact that I’m constantly in front my monitors each day.  I seriously work well over 12 hours per day (yes per day) combining my full time job at BookIt.com and my personal projects.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife to no end and always find time to spend with her.  With all that said, we have decided to create a website business together in a niche she knows extremely well.  With her efforts in helping to create and maintain a new usable web application online, we can earn extra income from that niche even if it generates only 5 – 10 thousand dollars annually.  That is 5 – 10 thousand dollars extra we could be earning each year.

My Conclusion

Website businesses are great entities used to bring in extra income (even if it’s an additional several thousand dollars) especially since the only investment would be time rather than shelling over hundred thousands of dollars to start up a franchise.  It is definitely the true limited liability way to start any business.  Also, being a professional web applications developer makes it much easier to work with :) (you don’t have to pay someone to create your online software)… Any business man will tell you to use the resources you have and with that said, I am motivated in creating my new ventures!  Wish me luck!

Website Scraping

Site Scrapping Does Not Work

I’ve been receiving a lot of ping backs from other sites out there and most of them are scrapper sites.  I took a look at these websites and realized they have stolen over hundreds of pages and posts that other people have taken the time to write and publish.  With that said, I took a look at these site’s Google PageRank and found them all to be nice fat 0′s.  This is why duplicate content will not make your website do well in Google’s eyes.  Several years ago when the internet was young, site scrapping did work since search engines didn’t have the algorithm to check and see if the content could be flagged as duplicate.  Search engines and directories have come a long way and with millions more sites on the internet it is important that clean, original, and quality content is showcased more than already showcased content.  If you scrap content, all that content you scrap will be added to the “back burner”…

I Thought Content is King?

The phrase “Content is King” seems to be interpreted incorrectly by many “money chasers” on the internet.   I use the term “money chaser” since there are a lot of bloggers with the main focus of generating content for income where they are willing to set up some unethical system or approach to automatically generate content without writing their own.  This is definitely the incorrect approach.  If you want to gain traffic, add a little more TLC to your posts and articles.  I’ve experienced “Unique Quality Content is King” where quality will do greater than quantity in the long run.  Always remember, clean quality content will do much greater than stolen content, it’s common sense…

The Truth to Generating Quality Traffic

Quality traffic is as good as quality content.  If you want to target your visitors to a certain topic, then you need quality content to target them with or else your bounce rate will increase.  All these factors are important especially since it is used to weight your ranking on different search terms.  Another great way to generate quality traffic is by small niche.  If you have a website that focuses in on a certain topic rather than the broader approach, you will have higher rankings than other sites that use the all or nothing approach.  A website that specializes in backgrounds for mobile phones will do better in that area rather than a site that is simply backgrounds.  Or, even a recipe site that specializes in Indian food recipes rather than all recipes.  I’ve seen plenty of small niche websites that do amazing and convert a lot better.  Why go small niche?  The more narrow you niche out, the easier it is to create the quality content.  Imagine having over hundreds of categories versus having only 10 categories to work with.  As a solo editor, it is much easier to start off small rather than growing to big quick.  My recommendation for those looking into creating a new website is to go the small niche route, you will convert hell of a lot easier than trying to dominate an entire market.

“Do what you love and you will never work another day in your life.”

stress-thumb

A Very Stressful Industry

It seems only yesterday that I was learning how to use an Apple IIe in my elementary school computer class. At this time, I remember my parents signed up with an AOL account and we had a dial up modem… the gateway to the internet then. My family always had the latest gadgets and in matter of fact, I probably was one of the very few middle school students that had their own green screen mobile cell phone. All these gadgets and gizmos intrigued me however I’ve always had this crazy fascination with computers, something with the way you can input commands via the keyboard and the computer being able to output something back. The thing about technology that has fascinated me the most is the internet. It’s amazing what a website application can do and how easy it is to make it public to the world wide web. This inspired me so much that I eventually started to learn how to write HTML when I was 13 years old. My dad also won a summer HTML class at the local computer store that had helped me start off to become the self made genius I am today. But wait, I sit here pondering and realizing that I’ve entered one of the most stressful industries… Programming.

The 8 P’s of Programming: Perfect planning and prior preparation prevents piss-poor performance. This pretty much wraps up the guidelines to creating elegant and usable applications. Forget the basic HTML design and the dynamic javascript events, I needed something more. That’s when I entered PHP at version 3 and relentlessly battled my way through learning this server side scripting language on my own. I remember reading simple tutorials online that had me on my way to programming PHP and using MySql as my RDBMS. Since then, I’ve continued using these technologies as my weapon of choice when it comes to my client’s and personal ventures.

Since then, I am now proficient in the following technologies:

  • PHP
  • MySql
  • jQuery
  • XHTML
  • CSS
  • Javascript
  • JSON
  • XML

I have all these technologies in my noggin because it became my life and almost made me a single man many times. My senior year of high school is when I became a hermit and stayed home to feed my addiction to programming for the web. Looking back, it did take a lot of time away from hanging out with friends in fact they use to tease and make fun of me for always being on my computer. Not for nothing, it all paid off. If I were to do this all over again with knowing how much work it is, I would refuse. I wouldn’t be able to do it all over again. It’s just too complicated…

My first profitable website was www.msmods.com. This dates back to 2003 – 2004, the MySpace boom… When Tom and his buddy from MySpace decided to spam the living crap out of millions of email accounts that had made MySpace what it is today. Anyways, I was probably the 5th “MySpace Resource” site that existed then. I remember a few sites that had inspired me to create this overly ambitious venture that is now “under construction” once again going through another major update. This is a great example to my belief in “practice makes perfect”… I have a problem with perfection, I’m stubborn, ambitious… These are all the qualities that make a good programmer.

Continuing education is one of the most important aspects for a programmer to keep themselves in the know how. There are so many technologies and many integration points that learning a magnitude of technologies is a better solution than knowing only a few. That is why I spend day and night learning other technologies. Many readers will probably think that I’m a bit obsessive and will feel a bit tinkered with my opinions. The fact is, technology has become ridiculously crazy that in order to fully succeed in web application development you must know a few technologies in order to create dynamic websites from ground up.

I enjoy the creativity and daily challenges of development. Programming is my hobby, my career, and even my worse enemy. It’s a very stressful job but someone’s gotta do it. Much luck to my readers that are pursuing this stressful industry. Become a hermit, always be eager to learn, and you will succeed!

Best Affiliates Review

Affiliate programs are ways for web publishers to make money by leading people to other companies products and/or services through search engine marketing and traffic conversion. Typically you don’t have to sell anything. Instead these programs are made for you to link to their web site. Your web site visitors would then sign up for their services or buy their goods. In return, you get some kind of monetary compensation. Find out which solution performs the most income.

The Best Affiliates Network

Usually the better affiliates will provide you with a referral fee or a percentage of the transaction, or even a payment for every user sent (CPM) or that had clicked on an advertisement (PPC). Below is a table of the most common and best affiliation networks online. I recommend trying every program below.

Category Affiliate Description
Advertising Google Adsense Google automatically displays contextual ads on your site.
Review ReviewMe Get paid to blog reviews of products and services.
Advertising Text Link Ads Links are sold in an area of your site.
Advertising AdBrite Ad banners, links, etc for your site.
Advertising BritePic Integrate ads into your pictures.
Commission AuctionAds Sell items from ebay.
Commission Amazon Sell items from Amazon.
Commission BidVertiser Show ads on your site based on direct bids.
Make Money with AdBrite

Making Money with AdBrite

AdBrite has been around for over 7 years which means it’s a much bigger network with a broad marketplace. Many webmasters will often display AdBrite since there are more ways to monetize rather than the common (CPM) and (CPC) programs like Google Adsense. AdBrite does not use contextual ads based on the content of the page however, it is based off the keywords and niches you select when creating a new ad zone.

AdBrite Features

There are many different types of “ad zones” that Adbrite offers that are easy to integrate and customize to help compliment the site’s appearance. I personally feel that I have more flexibility on how these ads display rather than Google Adsense. There are three main types of ad units and they are:

Banner and Text Ads
This is one of the most common ad units that webmasters display. You can choose from 5 standard sizes, font styles, borders and other form of design. Banner ads are similar to Google Adsense in how banners can be links or graphic banners however they are not “contextual” ads. The text link ad zone is a different “entity” of this ad type. Text ads provides the publisher with the most flexibility when displaying text link ads. You can alter the style of the links by using css (cascading style sheets) so it becomes well blended with the site. These ads also allow for advertisers to directly purchase ad space from your site where you can dictate what the fees are. This can be the quickest way to allow users to purchase links rather than programming or installing an affiliation / advertising management system.

Full Page Ads
Ever landed on a page where the site seems to have “redirected” but not really? These are the famous “Full Page Ads” and I believe it’s a better replacement to annoying pop-ups. This ad type can still be annoying but it does provide a big fat button where they can “Skip Advertisement” which makes it “less annoying”. This unit provides the publisher a better CPM (cost per impressions) and can also be used with Adsense without violating the Google TOS.

Inline Ads
Sometimes annoying but very effective, these inline ads pop-up a little block element that has more information about the “linked text” that is automatically determined by AdBrite. These little “tool tip” style pop-ups only appear when the user hovers over these links.

My Conclusion

I recommend using AdBrite’s publisher or advertising network. Browse the AdBrite market place and find many high ranked websites and actually purchase links and ad space directly from AdBrite. Internet marketing professionals all know that in order to successfully market a product on the world wide web, you need to seek out all the available opportunities in order to succeed. Using AdBrite with Adsense does not violate the Google TOS so I strongly recommend using both services. Why monetize one way when you can monetize many other ways?


Plusfriends.net

MySpace Networking and Friend Adding Websites

In today’s society we are bombarded by media, fame, celebrities, and entertainment manipulating the American way of life. Many individuals and music bands seek fast solutions for reaching new audiences and potential fans. There are over hundreds of MySpace friend adding sites on the net however, some represent false and very inaccurate descriptions of their service. Trust me, I’ve been in this business for a long time and have created one of the very first friend adding programs on the net.

PlusFriends.net’s History

I believe my website was either 2nd or the 3rd friend adding website online to ever exist on the world wide web. I started this website in late 2005 by programming it in the lower versions of PHP4. I hosted my website on Dot5Hosting due to the unlimited bandwidth, and disc space which sounded like an amazing deal, later to find out this hosting company provided nothing but disappointing performance and customer service. They had tacked on a very low value on the mysql max join size. I was unable to make database queries since they would fail every time due to this annoying limit. With frustration, I had decided to work around this limit in order to keep my program active online so I had decided to use a very massive “over-loading” query which invokes large amounts of queries within a loop in order to work around this limit. This became a very slow process, making the user have to wait forever in order to load and fetch the users they haven’t already added. It would query each individual user and query again to see if they have been added or not.

In mid 2008 I had migrated my website to my supervisor’s hosting which is hosted on Parallels dedicated servers. Forgetting to re-code my query from the previous migration, my supervisor informed me that this query was using 90% of the server resources. I had to change my query and go back to the join style query. The performance has exceeded my expectations! With over 350,000 members and almost a half a million adds served since the migration (would be over millions if I hadn’t dropped my old database tables), I was very surprised to see my queries run 25X faster on the “original friend adder” and the “AJAX friend adder”. I also had recently implemented a flash actionscript base friend adder that uses remote scripting to communicate with my web server. This application runs faster due to not having to load any HTML and less use of server bandwidth. I can sincerely say that PlusFriends.net is by far the fastest MySpace friend adding website on the net. If you don’t believe me, you can test it out yourself. While other imitation sites take forever to load users to add, PlusFriends.net exceeds the performance by 25-50%, reducing the load time in half.

Beware of Imitations

As noted before, there are hundreds of MySpace friend adding sites like mine however, majority of these sites have absolutely no performance what so ever and at the same time they claim that they are the best program out and can get you millions of friend requests. First of all, majority of these “developers” have no clue that MySpace has a 500 friend request limit per day. Also, many of these sites use a “Turn Key” program that they had purchased or “stolen” copies for their own monetary benefit. These scripts that use to be worth $2,500 became a $25 dollar illegal investment. You’ve heard of grand larceny, well, I believe this practice is a violation of this tort. As a programmer, I object to this pirating and illegal reselling practice since programmers work very hard and seem to earn very little respect when it comes to certain untrustworthy customers and unethical individuals who claim they are “web developers” when in fact they have never written their own web program. For those of you that have purchased stolen copies, I hope MySpace changes their code again so it effects these stolen web script so then I can fix my own site and excel my venture that I’ve originally created and have worked very hard on.

My Conclusion

If your are interested in promoting yourself, a band, or business, I strongly recommend trying out PlusFriends.net, you won’t be disappointed. The flash friend adding application will blow you away with performance and technological innovation. For those who are seeking their own opportunity in this business, I can create custom solutions. Please request a free quote and I will reply within 48 hours.

Follow-up, What Happened to PlusFriends.net?

I do not own the domain anymore therefore the website is not active.  I lost my domain due to failure of a previous hosting company called “Daily Razor” and their auto renew system.  I had contacted them about auto renewing years ago and for some reason they had removed the auto renew.  Now I have lost a annual income of 8 thousand dollars due to this company’s epic fail.  For all my dedicated visitors, I apologize for any inconveniences this may have caused.  Maybe sometime in the future I can recreate the application however it is not one of my priorities right now and especially since MySpace is not thriving as it use to…