David Bolton

David Bolton was a game developer and a past game designer at MicroProse. He now works as an independent developer creating mobile and desktop applications and writes on programming for About.com and News.dice.com

Getting Started With OpenStreetMap Data

Posted In Programming
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In 2004, Steve Coast set up OpenStreetMap (OSM) in the U.K. It subsequently spread worldwide, powered by a combination of donations and volunteers willing to do ground surveys with tools such as handheld GPS units, notebooks, and digital cameras. OSM Data Usage OpenStreetMap’s map and data are free to use so long as you provide attribution and share any corrections back to the project. JavaScript libraries and plugins for WordPress, Django and other content-management systems allow users to display their… continue…

Five Alternatives for Developing Native iOS Apps

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The simplest way to join the ranks of iOS developers is to learn Objective-C and/or Swift (the latter, while not quite ready for prime-time upon release, has gotten a lot better with its recent v1.2 update). But for everybody who doesn’t want to go down that route, there are other ways to create native iOS apps. Whatever way you choose, remember: If you wish to actually deploy apps to iPhones and iPads—and list them for sale in Apple’s App Store—you… continue…

Why I Choose PostgreSQL Over MySQL/MariaDB

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For the past ten years, developers and tech pros have made a game of comparing MySQL and PostgreSQL, with the latter seen by many as technically superior. Those who support PostgreSQL argue that its standards support and ACID compliance outweighs MySQL’s speed. MySQL remains popular thanks to its inclusion in every Linux Web hosting package, meaning that many Web developers have used it; but ever since Oracle bought Sun, which owned the MySQL copyright and trademark, there have been widespread… continue…

Best Programming Languages for Linux Devs

Posted In Programming
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Ask any knowledgeable developer to name the first programming language they would associate with Linux, and he or she would likely answer C, given the closely aligned history of Unix and C. But in the 24 years since it first appeared, Linux has probably been home to every programming language known to humankind: Not just obvious languages such as C, C++, Python and Java but also C# (Mono), Fortran, Pascal, COBOL and Lisp and many more. Check out the latest… continue…

Building a Dungeon Generator in C#

Posted In Programming
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Procedural dungeon generation is a fun exercise for programmers. Despite the crude interface, such games continue to spark interest. A quarter century ago, I wrote a dungeon generator in procedural Pascal; now I’ve taken that old code and converted it to C#. (It’s amazing just how fast it runs on a five-year-old i7 950 PC with 16GB of RAM.) If you want to follow along, you can find my code for the project on SourceForge.  The first part of the… continue…

Are Freelance Developer Sites Worth Your Time?

Posted In Programming
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Many websites allow you to look for freelance programming jobs or Web development work. (Hongkiat.com, for example, offers links to several dozen.) The problem for developers in the European Union and the United States is that competition from rivals in developing countries is crushing fees for everybody, as the latter can often undercut on price. This isn’t a situation unique to software development; look at how globalization has compelled manufacturing jobs to move offshore, for example. Check out the latest… continue…

The State of D in 2015

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A large company can push a programming language into the proverbial limelight: just look at C#, Java, and Objective-C and Swift. But a few programming languages can punch above their weight without any help from prominent companies or developers. While some of these languages achieved early success only to fall by the wayside (e.g., Delphi), one language that has quietly gained popularity is D, which now ranks 35 in the most recent Tiobe Index. Why D? Inspired by C++, D… continue…

Scripting Languages You May Not Know

Posted In Working in Tech
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Scripting languages are used in everything from games and Web pages to operating-system shells and general applications, as well as standalone scripts. They allow the harried developer to do his or her job without engaging in the full compile-test-edit lifecycle; with a script, it’s just edit-and-run. Many of these scripting languages are common and open to modification. In a gaming environment such as Skyrim, the developers relied on a scripting language called Papyrus; Microsoft Office depends on Visual Basic for… continue…

Is Microsoft Truly Embracing Open Source?

Posted In C++/C#, Programming
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Back in the day, Microsoft viewed open source and Linux as a threat and did its best to retaliate with FUD and patent threats. So it must have been galling to its executives as, over the past 20 years, the bulk of the Internet came to rely on Apache Web servers; while Microsoft now leads in hostnames (according to Netcraft), Apache remains ahead in terms of hosted active sites. And then a funny thing happened: Whether in the name of… continue…

Is C Still Relevant in the 21st Century?

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Many programming languages have come and gone since Dennis Ritchie devised C in 1972, and yet C has not only survived three major revisions, but continues to thrive. Large chunks of Windows were written in C, along with most of Linux. But aside from this incredible legacy, what keeps C atop the Tiobe Index? The number of jobs on Dice.com for C programmers is not huge, and many of those also include C++ and Objective-C. On Reddit, the C community,… continue…