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14 Feb 2008

by Noel

Happy Valentine’s from Untyped

For Valentine’s Day we have created a new website,<a
href=”http://smutshorts.com/”>Smut Shorts. If you have
something to say about love or lust, and can do so in 500
characters or less, then please add it to the growing number
of “shorts”. It’s anonymous and fun. Just, no
porn thanks.

If you’re reading this site, you’re probably interested
in the technical details behind Smut Shorts. It is a
collaboration between a number of people, most of whom have
chosen to be anonymous. The majority of the coding was done
by yours truly, and therefore in Scheme. It is running on
the PLT Scheme webserver (version 3.99) and uses PostgreSQL
as the back-end. I coded it up in about two days. It was a
side-project, so it was a bit of rush job and there is lots
still to do. If you break the site let me know and I’ll try
to fix it.

A few interesting lessons were learned from doing this
site. It all comes down to scalability, which is something
that has recently been on my mind a lot. In this case we
want to scale down to the low end — the guy who is
just hacking up something in his spare time and wants to get
it done in a hurry. Our frameworks, Snooze and Lylux, are
pretty good but they don’t support a fast start. You have
to create a whole bunch of files before you’ve even got your
first page up. Furthermore, we’ve always avoided creating a
templating mechanism, as we’ve said that we’d rather use
smart people who can balance parens than create this
unnecessary divide between designers and programmers. I now
recognise this is a mistake. Had we a templating mechanism
I could have pushed more design work to my collaborators.
It’s not that they’re stupid (far far from it) but they’re
busy and don’t have time to learn even Scheme basics just so
they change a few lines of text. If we’re gonna grow the
Scheme web-hacking community it has to start with dudes
messing around in their spare time, so we need to address
the low-end of scale. The high end of scale can wait till
the IPO ;-)

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