Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A developer switches from Windows to LAMP Part 2 : Project Dagobah

It has been an interesting past few days familiarizing myself with Ubuntu. As I had written in my previous post, the best way to do this is, is to code a small project on ubuntu and make it live. The obstacles one comes across in the process really help in the learning process.  

I also intend to learn Android programming so I thought I would start first with a couple of simple Android apps. I downloaded Android Studio and unpacked it and was following the lectures of the Udacity course UD853 - Android Fundamentals. In the process, another simpler idea popped up in my head, to allow people to compose tweets of the form 1/n, 2/n .... n/n easily. This could be a nice Google Chrome extension. Since the idea is to make these hacks public, I also bought a domain. I bought another domain for my Android app idea as well. 

I always used ZnetLive to buy domains, but they seem to have made changes where for you to buy a domain, you have to buy hosting from them as well. This is a pain. So I tried GoDaddy to buy my first domain. But I found the domain control panel confusing and somewhat limiting for a person like me. I want to be able to make all kinds of changes that I deem fit. But many vendors do not expose all the options on their Control Panels, for fear that a noob user may end up inadvertently changing something that may cause issues later. I have faced similar issues with Znet and Yahoo earlier.

Amazon AWS provides an option to buy domains and since I intend to use AWS for hosting and its Route53 service for DNS management, I decided to buy the domain directly using AWS. The price of the domain on AWS per year was the same as on GoDaddy, but GoDaddy did provide a discounted price if you bought for multiple years. But for me the hassle of free experience of AWS is worth the discount that I am losing out.

After buying the domains, I decided to start work on the tweetsmart Chrome extension. I installed git and set up a git repository and successfully checked in a file to the remote repository I set up on github. To make changes to the I used vim and I realized that this was something new and I needed to learn this.

I spent time learning vim. For this I went through a few tutorials and also played the game which I felt was very useful in getting started with an understanding of vim and saved a lot of time for me.

However, when I eventually got to putting my learnings to practice I realized I had just touched the tip of the iceberg and that there was so much more to learn. For example, the simple operation of copy from a webpage and paste in vim is not easy. Being used to writing code in an IDE with Intellisense, I also wanted similar benefits in vim and came across this post which suggested some plugins to install to make javascript coding in vim easier.

The steep learning curve here makes me wonder whether I should look at alternatives such as Sublime Text. However I found quite a few blog posts where
the authors mention how they have been super happy learning vim and how it has made them more productive.  I have to admit that vim has intrigued me and thus I intend to spend more time learning it. Moreover Visual Studio also has an extension, VsVim, which allows for Vim key bindings inside Visual Studio.  Now that is an interesting proposition to be tried in the future. For now, I am learning vim and my next post shall be more specific to things I learnt about vim, the good and the bad.

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