Tuesday 17 April 2012

John Cleese on Creativity

My good friend Jock Murphy blogged about this video, where John Cleese spends 36 minutes talking about creativity and telling "how many (blank)s does it take to change a light bulb" jokes. I can only echo Jock's sentiments here:

Go watch it. Go watch it now. Utterly brilliant.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Announcing Lineage

Note: As of late 2015, I don't use Lineage anymore, there's no need. I use the class features of ES2015 (aka "ES6") instead. If my target is a browser, for now I transpile with Babel (no need when working in NodeJS, the latest Node uses the latest V8 which has solid support for ES2015).

Just a brief post to announce my latest mini-project, Lineage. It's a small, simple toolkit for creating JavaScript constructor functions and their prototypes ("classes," if you will) in a straight-forward and concise way. From the project home page:

  • Lineage's API lets you define prototypes with a very concise syntax, while still encouraging you to create functions with real names (rather than anonymous functions); this helps your tools help you (debuggers show function names in call stacks, for example).
  • Lineage provides a highly efficient mechanism for "supercalls" (calling into the parent prototype's versions of methods from an instance using a derived prototype).
  • Lineage's API encourages and supports use of the module pattern for each constructor and its prototype.
  • Lineage is small, <3k compressed (gzips to <1,500 bytes, a quarter of which is the MIT license) — because it doesn't try to reinvent inheritance, it just simplifies access to the power of JavaScript's prototypical inheritance.

Here's an example of defining a constructor called Thing with a spiffy function on the prototype:

var Thing = Lineage.define(function(p) {
p.spiffy = function() {
console.log("I'm a spiffy thing!");

...or if like me you prefer your functions to have names:

var Thing = Lineage.define("Thing", function(p) {
p.spiffy = Thing_spiffy;
function Thing_spiffy() {
console.log("I'm a spiffy thing!");

Now, with such a trivial example, that doesn't offer you much on top of the raw equivalent:

var Thing = (function() {
function Thing() {
Thing.prototype.spiffy = Thing_spiffy;
function Thing_spiffy() {
console.log("I'm a spiffy thing!");
return Thing;

...and that's the point, Lineage works with JavaScript's natural inheritance, it doesn't try to reinvent things. But when you get into inheritance, and in particular start making supercalls, Lineage reduces the code markedly while ensuring everything is hooked up properly, and does so in a way that's easy to use correctly, without retyping a lot of boilerplate code.

Rather than loading up this post with code examples, I'll point you to the progressive series of examples on the Lineage Comparison with Plain JavaScript page for more.

I'm using Lineage in projects now, and so far I'm really liking the simplicity of it. I hope you will too! If you do play with it, please send comments (positive and negative!), the feedback is very welcome.

Happy coding!