Make Smarter - Crockford on JavaScript, Learning Mercurial, SLD Cookbook

This month’s make smarter is so chock-full of goodies, it’s a wonder I’m not significantly smarter than I is am.

First up is a 5 part series on JavaScript by Doug Crockford, who may know more about JavaScript than anyone on Earth. It’s great information and it’s presented in an approachable manner. You don’t have to be a hard core programmer to appreciate a lot of the material.

I’ve tried my fair share of version control systems, from Visual Source Safe (aaaaargh it burns!) to subversion to a little dabbling in git. When I moved some projects over to Google Code I had to pick between subversion and mercurial, and I went with mercurial. Boy am I glad I did. Mercurial is the easiest to use DVCS I’ve ever tried. If you’re interested in giving it a shot, Joel Spolsky has a great Mercurial Tutorial, including a “re-education” for subversion users. If you’re on Windows, TortoiseHg is the way to get started.

The only real pain point with GeoServer (and it’s a minor one) is creating SLD’s for your layers. It’s not that it’s hard, it’s just tedious, and useful SLD documentation is scattered about the Internet as if it were blasted out of a shotgun. To help solve this problem GeoServer folks have created a SLD Cookbook. It’s a great resource. SLD really isn’t bad, but I’m looking forward to seeing CSS styling for maps baked in to GeoServer.

If you’re interested in trying out some FOSS GIS, look no further than the OSGeo Live DVD and Virtual Machine. It has 34 different open source GIS applications on board, and with the virtual machine and Live DVD options you can play to your heart’s content without having to dirty up your OS. It’s based on Xubuntu (Ubuntu with the XFCE desktop). Note these are big downloads, so plan accordingly.

Ars has a good introduction on system recovery using open source tools. It specifically references Clonezilla and SystemRescueCD. I have a copy of Clonezilla at home I use occasionally; my SystemRescueCD stays in my work bag. I can’t tell you how many times it has saved the day.

Here are a few shorts in case you already knew all of that stuff:

  • InfoQ has written a lot about REST, and this post links to a lot of their REST content in one spot, including a couple of presentations.

  • The ESRI tech sessions from the 2010 Dev Summit are available on the web. They’re generally each an hour or longer, and there are more than 60 of them. Kudos to ESRI for making the videos available to those of us whose travel budgets can’t get them to the nearest Starbucks.

  • Sean Gillies has a great post on bootstrapping a python project. If you’re interest in getting a python project off the ground, you should definitely give it a read.

  • System Design Strategies, which started out as an ESRI white paper, is now available on It’s a great all-purpose reference, whether you are an ESRI shop or not.