I have just spent the past 4 months working on taking a matchmaking service that was meant for tutors and students and have converted it over to Node JS and Angular 1. I just thought I would share my thoughts about PHP development compared to Node JS development. I took on this project thinking I was going to be migrating from PHP to PHP but using Laravel and building out a scalable API service. It turns out that we ended up using NodeJS and Angular. So I had to catch up quick. I started using WebStorm as my IDE and I got to say I have a newfound respect for JetBrains and their IDE’s. From PHPStorm to WebStorm, I gotta say that Zend Studio has some serious competition coming up. Especially in areas concerning the support of composer, npm and terminal integration. Still, Zend Server and Zend Studio along with my favorite debugging tool Z-Ray are still the most effective way of debugging most PHP applications, at least for me anyway. JetBrains IDE’s though have been the first non eclipse based IDE’s I have even found remotely in the same league. They aren’t just in the same league they are a serious contender. As always though, use the right tool for the right job. When in doubt, try them out.
So first thing is we have 2 repos, the web app repo and the API repo. Angular is actually a pretty easy to use framework for the front-end. The structure is easy to understand, the framework is quite easy to use and is well organized and there is a lot of documentation. Now Angular is the framework which controlled the look and the fell of the site, all the html, layouts and such but when working on a truly scalable service it’s not like the traditional development environment in anyway. The API is built to handle every interaction with the database, so you don’t have any queries in your web application. Personally with the e-commerce platforms I work on API’s always feel like an additional afterthought that the developers added to allow other developers to access information or modify data without direct access to the software or the database. With Node we couldn’t do this. When you work with Angular sure you can use jQuery but I highly discourage it because you have to start thinking the Angular way. jQuery manipulates the DOM whereas Angular is essentially building out the DOM and you end up with a single page application.
So every single page load, Angular makes calls to the various endpoints which get returned as JSON arrays, which is easy enough. However, this is a real trouble maker when it comes to SEO as the data might load up as you scroll down the page, which allows for the page to load faster, but that data isn’t page of the pages source until you scroll down far enough, which triggers an ajax call to the API to pull in more content and images to load. I will post a follow up to this article as I just replied to an interesting UpWork project where the Angular version of the site wasn’t giving enough information for Google to parse, so the client is asking for a complete rewrite of the front-end in PHP to get the full SEO value of the content listed on the site. A lot would think of this as extreme, but the truth is the search engines aren’t keeping up with the most commonly used modern frameworks. Google is ahead of the pack but a lot of the other search engines are lagging behind. I will update this post when I get more details as this is a very interesting topic and a very good topic that developers should be aware of.
Anyhow, the project was merely weeks from launch when the bottom fell out and funding was pulled and we ended up with nothing to show for all of our hard work. I am looking into what parts of the source code could be shared legally with the public as I think it would make for a great example of best practices and be a great building block for any match-making based system in the future. I just need to make sure I pull out any of the copyrighted work and make sure that anything I release doesn’t breach any NDA’s. As soon as that’s all cleared up I would love to post a public repo link for anyone to use as a reference.
So while I have been away for a while, I just wanted to post something to let everyone know that I am still developing, Invelo of course is still getting its fair share of attention from the team and myself and the work continues. We have recently been looking into creating some apps for BigCommerce that will essentially port a few of our more useful and rather massive modifications over to BigCommerce. We are still trying to decide if we should focus on a single niche or we should just bring over the most popular that haven’t been built already by another development team. Our shipping solutions would have been great but it seems that BigCommerce already is chalk full of shipping apps. So it’s either product management, drop shipping or an upsell app that allows you to group together products typically sold together and allow for all the products to be added to the cart from a single page.