Tuesday, October 11, 2016

JQuery Ideas That Help Me Memorize Really Big Numbers

The Idea

DomEditor is an app for editing a dominic number list.  Dominic numbers are a mnemonic device for memorizing really big numbers.  It works by tying every number from 00 through 99 with the image of people doing things.  Read more about the Dominic System here if interested.  My focus for this article is Javascript/JQuery techniques that helped with this project.

JQuery Event Delegation

Past projects had event handlers all over the place.  It was messy.  Here is an example from the RESTful notes project.

Behind every one of those "make button" functions is an event handler being created.  That's a lot of event handlers.  Not good.  Fortunately, JQuery has this thing called event delegation which you can read about here.  With this, you can use just one event handler at a parent level in the DOM.  There's no need to register separate handlers for every single button.  Here is how DomEditor does it.

The only catch to that is that DOM navigation is still awkward.  My solution was to do some pre-numbering on elements that needed it.  This setup gives me fuller use of Handlebars templates.  Worth it.

Promises, Closures, and Callbacks

Promises, closures, and callbacks matter because of all the async ajax happening here.  This creates a challenge.  The server-side API uses basic authentication for user-specific operations.  On the client, that means one call needed to get credentials and another call needed to use said credentials.  So how do you deal with that without the heavy nesting of callbacks inside of other callback?

Promises mean less needless callback nesting.  A call for credentials gets a promise for that info.  From there, you decide what to do with the data.  Here's how Dom Editor applies that idea....

Closure Callbacks
It gets weird trying to save info specific to one dominic number.  After all, the button callback only handles credentials.  The credentials have to be gotten from another call to begin with.  So how do you fit a dominic number argument into the picture?

The solution is to generate a callback.  Have it so the dominic number data to already there begin with.  Suddenly, argument passing is a non-issue.  That is straight up closure action.  Here's how that looks.

If this is all confusing, take heart.  Closures are hard to explain no matter what.  Really getting it requires tweaking existing ones and writing some of your own.  It should click after awhile.

Final Words

Get hands dirty with these ideas.  Write dumb junk pages that use delegate events if you have to.  Make promises.  Jump into that crazy closure world where functions return other functions.  It really is something special once you get these concepts.  You'll be a better programmer for it.  You'll probably also find better uses for these ideas than memorizing a hundred digits of PI.

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