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My last blog post, Example of a Real-Time Web App, was an overview of the architecture of WhitePages’s Mailer. We used Ruby on Rails, Spine.js, Faye, and Sidekiq to build an asynchronous web app. Rails is a server-side MVC framework, Spine.js is a client-side MVC framework, Sidekiq processes jobs, and Faye ties those three pieces together with HTTP server push. This blog dives deeper into Faye, which can be the basis for implementing a publish-subscribe design pattern.

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There’s been a lot of buzz about the “real-time” web among developers lately. As browsers and frameworks mature, it’s becoming increasingly advantageous to build fully asynchronous websites. But what is the real-time web? The answer may vary depending on who you ask, but the one common thread is that real-time websites enable the client (web browsers) to react instantly to changes on the server. Real-time web apps allow performance that rivals native apps, avoiding most of the delay intrinsic to traditional client-server systems (in which browsers only get new content by requesting it from servers). This post is intended to give an overview of the architectural decisions behind an asynchronous application — our newest web app, WhitePages Mailer.

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For the past six months, I have been working with a small team at WhitePages to create a new web app designed to provide users with everything they could want to know about a Name.  This site is fast, easy to navigate, and surfaces public data from both the Social Security Administration & Whitepages.  Whether you’re an expecting mother looking for baby name inspiration, want to know how to pronounce Siobhan in preparation for a business meeting or are just curious about the age distribution of people named “Mildred”, our new Names app has you covered.

When you land on Names, there are a few options to explore the site.  The home page allows you to see the most popular names and a hand-picked “Name of the Day”.  You can also use the no-fuss search feature at the top of every page to look for a first name, last name or both.

Once you arrive on a details page for a name you are presented with data on pronunciation, meaning, age distribution, gender distribution, geographic distribution, popularity, contact information, and social network activity — it’s a lot of data, but we’ve designed it to be as compact and easily readable as possible.

If you are curious about names but aren’t sure where to start, click “Discover” from the top of any page and check out our page for Names exploration.  A personal favorite is the Search By Time module - a draggable slider that lets you view the most popular and least popular names of the past century.  Did you know in the 90′s there are 119 people named Andromeda and they are all girls?

We’ve also made it easy to share with friends whenever you find an unusual name or an interesting fact — through Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.  If you Tweet about WP Names, you can be listed on our Twitter leader board, gaining publicity for your Twitter account.  I’m currently dominating the Jared pages with 23 followers.

We’ve laid out some of the features in this infographic, but the best way to get to know the new Names site is by playing around with it yourself.  Enjoy!