Fun with Balls

As a simple for-fun ritual when I learn a new language I like to create a simple very basic application that has some 2D balls (spheres if you prefer) bouncing on the screen and then I would mess with settings and effects, fairly basic stuff. It's not really all that exciting but its fun to write and covers enough things to help you get a decent start with the language.

JavaScript Balls

I've done this with a few languages, the first was with Visual Basic 6 at college and since then I've done it again with Perl and JavaScript. I did start one in Java but don't think I ever finished. I've never got around to creating a Python port and I'm going to have to change that but for the moment here it is in JavaScript.

See it in action here Note, you will need a browser that is capable of handling <canvasso in other words - not Internet Explorer 6. Also I'm afraid the size is fixed so it wont look nice on small resolutions.

The code is really shoddy as its one of the first things I coded in JavaScript. I'd like to re-write it at some point to compare how I do it now that I feel comfortable with the language.

I remember when I wrote this my computer wasn't fast enough to render it very smoothly and the only browser it worked on was FireFox (and probably Safari but I didn't, and still don't, have a mac). I'm glad to see how much the browser landscape has changed since then.

The Others

I've totally lost the perl implementation - I think I probably left it on a university computer somewhere. I've got the VB6 code but I don't have visual studio (installed) anymore and I don't have a floppy drive to access it!

My Python version, well I think I might do that later if I have time. I've done very little GUI code with Python so it would make for a fun exercise.

Whats changed?

I find it interesting that as programmers we can often find our way around an unfamiliar language enough to get things working but generally you don't take advantage of that languages features.

Looking back, the most interesting thing is probably how different I would approach the problem now. I used Prototype, a library I don't really have anything against but it doesn't really fit with how I see JavaScript now as it adds various features that make it feel more like a 'traditional' object oriented language with classes and classical inheritance. The code relies on global objects and has events written into the HTML.

Quite frankly most of the code is rubbish but thats one of the ways you learn! Given the task now I would use jQuery and might consider using some HTML5 or CSS3 features. That actually sounds quite fun - I sense a mini project coming up.

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