Guiding The Geek In You
Sometimes the hardest part about a project is sitting down to organize your environment before you begin. Sure, you probably have several, maybe hundreds, of pieces of functional code stashed in your git repo or squirreled away in different folders on your hard drive, but starting a brand new project? Ugh! Enter the project sandbox.
Project sandboxes are templates designed for easy duplication that allow you to quickly create an ideal project environment. Pre-configured folder structures and file names optimized to your liking make launching a new project as easy as duplicating a template and making a tweak to the new project’s server config file.
Similar to regular sandboxes – also known as development servers – project sandboxes isolate projects to a well-defined structure, preventing code pollution. The key difference is Sandboxes are usually designed for developing within an existing code base protected by a code repository. Project sandboxes, however, exist only to help start new and potentially disposable development in a reliable way.
Regarding naming schemes: the word of the day is CONSISTENCY. Name your project sandbox files anything you like and commit to your scheme. When you find a better naming method (and you will), retrofit your project sandbox right away – don’t put it off! Using consistent file names will build strong mental associations that help you decide where to put certain code.
My project sandbox files:
Some file stubs (files that exist without any content) I like keeping handy to handle RWD needs, or to load AMD formatted scripts, respectively:
Flexibility in terms of a project sandbox means keeping a variety of battle tested and carefully vetted resources at your finger tips, not all of which you may need for every project. Some resources should be configured to load by default, while others (like frameworks) are kept out of the loading stack.
Some of my core resources:
Asynchronous Resource Loaders
JS MVC Frameworks
Should you use a CDN or keep your toolkit stored locally? I prefer using local files. Staying local removes a layer of potential complexity (not relying on a file that probably stays the same), improves performance, and keeps resource files readily available for dissection. That said, CDNs are extremely valuable in many other situations.
However, using local resources means you must manually keep your project sandbox current. Get into the habit of watching for updates, reading release notes, and making informed decisions about updating your resources. Broken and dull tools are even worse than no tool at all!
Folder organization depends largely on your web server and middle tier language of choice. Discussing the best ways to organize folders for different servers and languages could be a cool topic for another day.
Since I use Node.js my project sandbox folder structure is pretty simple, as demonstrated below.
Of course, this is only a start! Your project sandbox can be tailored in any way you see fit and will change over time. The important lessons are: make one, keep it consistent, keep it current.
Good luck, and please comment with any suggestions. And as always, thank you for reading!