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Prototyping with gulp-web-starter

Posted on  by Tommy Ku

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Let’s pretend that in one random evening when you leave office early and formed a brilliant idea on your way home. Your blood is boiling and you want it dive into a coding sprint as soon as possible. Roll out a barely functional or even completely hard-coded version, then send it to friends and coworkers to make sure the idea holds up to the expectations.

This is called prototyping — a way to creating an incomplete version of a software because most complete software project takes more than a few hours.

Prototying for the web

No one wants to learn that an idea doesn’t work only after days or even weeks of developement.

Luckily, the web is very flexible. Pulling in this framework, that library, hold them together with duct tape, here comes a prototype, quick and dirty.

I mean, you can use bower to grab a release of some frameworks/libraries then group them together into a single index.html to form a minimally viable prototype.

Backend? No you don’t need to write one yourself, try Firebase or Parse for data and Cloudinary.

Introducing gulp-web-starter

GitHub should make some official embeded cards.

Installation takes a couple lines and just that.
$ git clone new-project
$ cd new-project
$ npm install
$ gulp --live #--live flag enables liverelaod

gulp-web-starter is not really any big deal. It focuses on saving your time setting up the environment because it you can pull in whatever framework/library. Any preset or preconfigured framework that not everyone needs would void the point. You can pull in whatever you want quickly with bower.

$ bower install --save 'library-name'

The point of this starter is to pack in the barely minimum setup that usually you would need so you don’t have to do it each time kickstarting a prototype.

It can - compile Jade into HTML - compile Sass into CSS - compile CoffeeScript into JavaScript - publish compiled content (no, a prototype doesn’t need to be uglified) - livereload on browser tabs when --live flag is applied

You might say if any preset not fitting the reality of prototyping should not exist in the starter, why put in the Jade, Sass and CoffeeScript compilers in? No, they speed things up. These language proprocessors as mostly as syntactic sugers reducing the amount of code you need to type so you spend less time adding mundane paraentheses and braces.

That’s pretty much I have to talk about gulp-web-start, or maybe too much already. Feel free to customize it or start your own such that you can spend more time with your family and friends instead of punching the keyboard to set things up.

On a side note

When your app need to work with a separate local backend, remember to allow for CORS on the backend.

localtunnel is a nice tool to expose a port to external clients should you want to share an adhoc gulp server serving your prototype locally. Or try ssh -L.

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About the author

Profile pic of Tommy Ku

Tommy Ku, a Hong Kong-based Software Engineer experienced developing PHP and Java-based web solutions and passionate in Web technology.

Also a hobbyist digital and film photographer.