Saturday 18 June 2016

Why just grabbing code from the web can lead to major problems down the line

Why just grabbing code from the web can lead to major problems down the line


I have wrote many articles over the years about server, system, website and PC performance, and it seems that the more versions of FireFox and Chrome that come out, the slower they get. I don't think I have ever used IE 11 as much as I have in the last 3 months. Mostly just to get Facebook, Radio 1 or Google+ to load within a minute which FF and Chrome seem to have issues with for some reason.

Some add-ons like uBlock Origin prevent 3rd party domain code from being loaded up on the site as well as large image or video/flash objects. It also stops pop-up windows and the loading of remote CSS fonts which is all the craze now.

What the developers of these websites don't seem to realise is that when they are loading in code from all over the web just to make a page display or run it causes a lot of network traffic. It also introduces the possibility that the code at the end source has been tampered with and therefore you could be loading in Cross Site Scripting hacks or ways for people to exploit your site if that certain script exists in the DOM.

Also a less likely scenario but a more common issue is that the more domains your site has to access to get all it's code onto the site, it can mean the page doesn't load as you may want it to, or even not at all.

If script A relies on Script B but Script B doesn't load for a long time then the code in Script A that was going to open a popup window on DOM Load, or play a video just isn't going to work.

I recently overrode the Window.OnError event and logged the Message, URL and Line No with an AJAX call to a log file before either throwing the error for modern sites or hiding it for older ones.

When I started looking through these files the amount of Google AdSense and Tracker scripts not loading due to timeouts is incredible. Also there are issues with bugs in the scripts or due to their slow loading objects not being available for other scripts relying on them to use. An example of just one error is:

24/04/2016 09:54:33 : 8X.XXX.XXX.161 'document.body' is null or not an object in on line 19

People relying on Google for stats shouldn't for a number of reasons. Not only do they not always load and record the visit, but they also rely on 3rd party cookies being enabled and JavaScript being enabled. A Log parser or DB is a much better way to log every single visitor BOT or Human.

For example if you have a main jQuery script you are loading in from a CDN or from a site you don't control, if that domain is having network problems then that means any other code on the site reliant on it won't be able to work until that issue is resolved. This happens a lot from viewing the messages in my JavaScript error log file.

Due to this a lot of  people just grab the code off the net and load it in from a local server to get round network delays.

However by doing this they are stuck in a point of time (the date and the version they copied the file at). I hate this, as instead of actually learning JavaScript so they know what they are doing they are relying on some other blokes framework to solve their problems e.g have a look at whose code most of you are building your site with. If there is a bug in jQuery you either have to fix it yourself or wait for John to fix it. If it's your own code at least you can rely on your own skills and know how the code works.

The other day I had to solve a jQuery problem where the page in question was using an old version of jQuery and another 3rd party script built around jQuery (but not by John), called reveal.js.

As the front end developers wanted to move to the latest version of jQuery they suddenly found that the reveal.js code no longer worked.

After debugging it was clear that the $().live(function) had been removed and as the code that did the popup relied on reveal.js and it was built in 2011 with no recent updates. The whole revealing and hiding of modal boxes stopped as soon as a modern version of jQuery was loaded in for the site.

I had to waste time reading up on jQuery and then hardcoding the version of reveal.js as we had to use the new .on() function so that the new jQuery libraries would work with the old code that was taken from a library developed in 2011.

This is one thing I hate about front end developers who just pick n choose libraries off the web despite them all doing the same thing like event binding and removal multiple times in multiple ways.

If they are relying on a 3rd party library they took from 2011 that also relies on a constantly updated framework like jQuery that is always dropping and adding new methods, then how are people to expect sites to work when a method these libraries rely on are removed?

If they cannot write some basic notes to say that this page relies on this script e.g reveal.js, which came with jQuery 1.4.5 then it makes people like me who hate debugging other peoples frameworks hate 3rd party code even more.

Not only do I have my own getme.js framework which is simple, uses CSS selectors, linked methods where the array of objects is passed down from function to function, but now that most browsers support the simple one line of code that allows for selectors to find objects there is no need to add Sizzle.js to it any-more. Not unless you really want to support old IE versions you can just use this single line.

// where query is the CSS selector
document.querySelectorAll( query ); 

For example in my Getme.js code this following line of code will loop through all Anchor nodes with a class of menu on them inside the DIV with the ID MAIN. I just then alert out the elements ID.

G('DIV#Main >').each(function(){

Obviously if you do all your styling in CSS or inline JS you have the option of how to style a series of objects for example with the .setAtts method you can pass in any element attribute and their values.

This is providing a mixture of a class and inline styles to the Paragraphs inside DIV tags. It also uses chaining where the array of object are passed from one function to the next just like other frameworks.

The first example just looks for DIV tags with P's inside and sets the class to "warningRed" and the style of the font to bold and red. The class can do most of the styling or ALL of it.

It's just an example, so is the 2nd one that shows all P tags with a SPAN with the class "info". Inside it gets a warning message with the .setHTML method and then the .setStyle method colours the text.

G('DIV > P').setAtts({class:"warningRed", style:"color:red; font-weight:bold"});

G('P >').setHTML('CLick for help.').setStyle({color:red, fontSize:8px});

I used a G instead of $ just to distinguish it from all the other frameworks and because it's called Getme.js.

If you want to know how to learn to write your own chainable framework then have a read of this article of mine. I've kept Getme.js simple as I hate people who just copy code from the web especially when it goes wrong.

At least this way I have a wrapper object that allows for chaining and the setting of multiple attributes at once and the use of selectors. However I still like to use pure JavaScript inside my functions so people down the line can get their heads around it.

So next time I get a jQuery problem because John Resig has decided to remove a core function from his framework which then causes a chain re-action due to all the other frameworks that were built around that version of jQuery, I can at least (hopefully) use my simple framework to apply the CSS that the designers need to rather than spend a day hunting around for fixes to other people's code.

That, is something I really hate doing.


© 2016

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