Angel \”Java\” Lopez on Blog

April 26, 2014

Applications Creating Applications

I was working in different approaches to make programs create more programs. This post is a brief review of the path I took in the past years/months/weeks, and that it is still work in progress. I think they are interesting ways of doing programming, to be explored.

Dynamic Applications

The idea is to describe an application (entities, some relations, some code), and run it in a web runner that knows how to interpreted the application definition. I wrote a first implementation for past year Knockout competition:

More info at Dynamic Applications in Node.js.

The application could be described in a simple structure (in this example, a simple JavaScript object that can be serialized to JSON). The same structure could be interpreted and run by different host applications: a web application, an SPA, a mobile app, etc. And it could be used as a seed to generate code in a “concrete” technology, like Sinatra, Express+MongoDB, etc.

Code Generation

One of my preferred topics. I created tasks, templates and free models to generate applications in Express, and in other technologies (Sinatra, Django, Flask, PHP, all work in progress). I have implementations in C#, Ruby and Node.js. But my latest work is on Node.js:

You can have a simple example in:

Screenshots of a simple generated application:


And I’m working on creating an online site where you can describe the application (the free model, the features, databases, entities, web framework to use) and then download the generated application code.


In the project:

I describe each application as a set of cards (a deck). A card can have simple values, or a another card or deck. For example, a card could have an id, a name, a title to be displayed, and additional info. A card could have another deck of cards as a property (ie an Chemical Elements card could have a deck with one card by element). They can be rendered in different context: a web application, a web application as a Single Page Application, a mobile app (in Phonegap, or native). One thing is the structure and content of a card, and another thing is the render of a card. The later depends on the context of the host application.

A simple example

var model = {
    title: "My Deck",
    cards: [
        { title: "Card 1", text: "This is the card 1" },
        { title: "Card 2", text: "This is the card 2" },
        { title: "Card 3", text: "This is the card 3" }

Another sample, with screenshots:

A card content could be a simple text, a long text, an URL, an image, or a widget to be displayed by the hosted application (ie a Google Map). The card description could be static or could be generated on the fly (ie, a feed could be transformed to a card/deck, or it could be retrieved from a REST API). A card could have partial content (id, title), and a resolver can retrieve the rest of its content, using the id (ie, a card could represent a Wikipedia Page, and the id would be the URL; the resolver downloads the page content, and complete the card, if needed).

More fun is coming.

Keep tuned!

Angel “Java” Lopez

Blog at