Programming Phoenix: Productive -> Reliable -> Fast by Chris McCord, Bruce Tate, José Valim is an introduction to Phoenix, a web application framework written in Elixir. The authors bring a lot to the table: Chris is the main author and manitainer of Phoenix. José is the author of Elixir, prolific contributor to Phoenix and once a Rails core member. Bruce is author on several books about Java and Rails.
Bash is ubiquitous. Even Windows runs it now. Often, it’s the minimum common denominator you can expect a computer to have, without needing to install extra dependencies, which is why I often find myself writing bash scripts. In this article, Aaron Maxwell explains how to set a few options that will make it easier to avoid bash’s many pitfalls.
Derek Prior brings a well-articulated argument of when to use Rails validations and when to rely on database constraints. His advice is solid, for Rails, which doesn’t handle constraint violation in the database well. After reading this article, I found out that Ecto – an Elixir database wrapper – does handle database constraints and makes them errors to the rest of the application. I wish Rails had that!
Julia Evans made available a transcription of a keynote talk she gave recently. I really liked how show approached learning and breaking down big problems into manageable pieces. At some level, what she proposes is basic curiosity, without getting hung-up on your current level of understanding. Do you need to debug tcp networking in Linux, but don’t know about it? Read some books on it. Is that not enough? Open up the source code and read that. Inspiring, yet refreshing. We can all learn anything, as long as we do it methodically and with dedication.
Recently, I’ve read about porting a Ruby application or writing a command-line application to Crystal. As it happens, I had started doing the same thing myself a while ago and recently finished it. My motivation was intellectual curiosity. Learning a new language is useful in itself, but I have also found that it learning paradigms in a new language influences how we use other languages as well.
Performing database migrations – changes in the underlying schema – is a necessity for many web systems, usually because they don’t want to disrupt customer traffic. This post described how they solve this at Stripe. In my team, we follow a similar approach, but instead of dual-writing, we solve the problem by dual-reading. In any case, I commend Strip and other companies like it for detailing their successes in articles like these. The whole software engineering community gains.
In this fascinating article, researches from academics and industry detail how they went about measuring the use HTTPS interception products and it’s impact on security. HTTPS interception is usually deployed by IT systems so that they can decrypt HTTPS traffic and scan it. Essentially, it’s like a man-in-the-middle attack that the user consents to. Not surprisingly, in most cases, the use of HTTPS interception results in downgraded security.
Fergus Henderson describes Google’s key software engineering practices. There are great insights into their process and approach, as would be expected from one of the most successful software companies today. It includes things like how they store their source code, which languages they use, their build system, code review process, debugging and profiling, 20% investment time and project and people management. Not every company can or should adopt all their practices, but most would benefit from some of them.
Software consultants often need to evaluate existing projects. Błażej Kosmowski writes a thoughtful post on four things he focuses on: Outside-In TDD, use of design patterns, a balance between DRYness and readability and automation (around code quality). I like all of those and would add a few more around project deployment, like automation of deployment, staging to production promotion of code, etc.
Joshua Ogle writes a good introduction of what the different disciplines of web design are (visual design, user interface, user experience) and how to interact with each other. I found it very informative. I usually focus on backend programming, but work with designers and their concepts often.
In the context of computer programming, instrumentation refers to an ability to monitor or measure the level of a product’s performance
Instrumentation provides insight into what exactly is happening to your running code. Antoine Grondin lays out what are the basics of what to measure, to be able to quickly understand the situation in times of trouble. From experience, I can say that just modest investments in instrumentation provide great value.