Reign in the madness: Intelligently using wikis for your dev team

TL;DR Wikis are awesome tools. When used poorly, they’re like black holes; documents disappear into the ether. When used intelligently, they can be powerful, self-organizing knowledge centers for your team.

On most large software projects, organization is key. Developers aren’t always the most organized people in the world (I’m no exception) and project managers tend to focus on the project schedule. This can leave something to be desired or tracking the team’s progress and keeping everyone on the same page in terms of technical decisions and understanding of the larger system architecture as the project progresses.

Most projects hit a speed bump or two along the way, and it isn’t uncommon to have people scrambling trying to remember what was agreed to and when or struggle to remember why or how a certain decision was made.

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The Importance of Modernizing Legacy Code

The term legacy code conjures thoughts of dread in developers everywhere. It’s code that’s perceived (justly or unjustly) to be tightly-coupled, hard to understand, hard to change, and just plain out-dated. It’s an immovable object.

The reality is, legacy code is everywhere, and it isn’t going anywhere. So why not make it better, and make our lives working with it everyday easier?

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Truly rapid development of admin apps with json-editor

At work we have a lot of configurable settings in our application. Like a lot. For a long time, nobody tackled the task of properly exposing the management of these settings in a UI because they thought it would be way too much work. The settings have a flat unified structure in the back-end, making them awkward to manage logically as a set of related settings. Building support for a large set of arbitrary data types, different editors for each, custom validation, etc. seemed like a daunting task.

In this blog post, I’m going to show how you can use the json-editor library to build these kinds of complex back-office admin apps really quickly and easily.

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Hello Idris

I heard a great podcast interview recently with Edwin Brady. He was discussing his upcoming book Type-driven development With Idris. After listening to the podcast, I immediately picked up a copy of his book. Having now completed the book (well it’s a MEAP, so what’s finished so far), I’m finding Idris the language really intriguing.

I’ve always had a preference toward statically-typed languages. I just like the ability to specify type constraints and have some level of confidence of correctness in my programs before I run them.

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From plumatic’s schema to clojure.spec

In a previous blog post, I showed an example of using plumatic’s schema with test.check and test.chuck. With the introduction of Clojure’s new spec library, I thought it would be interesting to revisit that post and port it from schema to spec. The code from this post is available on github.

Overall, the port was relatively straight-forward, though spec took some getting used to. spec provides similar facilities for what I was using in schema. It integrated with both test.check and test.chuck with no significant modifications!

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Emacs Keyboard Setup – OSX

Before you get going with Emacs on a Mac, there are a number of keyboard settings that you generally want to tweak to get the most fluid and comfortable experience. This post outlines the keyboard settings changes I’ve made that I find essential.

Note: this is targeted towards OSX users. Not all of this will apply to other systems.

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Why I’m learning Emacs

Emacs is a classic piece of software that has stood the test of time. It has been around for decades and will probably be around for decades to come, so though it has a bit of a learning curve, it’s well worth the effort to learn.

Although my original motivation for learning Emacs was in pursuit of the ultimate clojure IDE experience, I’ve quickly realized it is extremely valuable as a general-purpose editor. My background has always been as an IDE guy (eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, etc.), aside from knowing just enough vi to get around on the command-line.

Here’s some of the reasons I chose to invest in learning Emacs whole hog:

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Stackoverflow: Road to 5K

I recently reached 5K reputation on stackoverflow. It’s nothing mind blowing reputation-wise for sure, but it feels like a nice milestone that took some time and effort to reach. Thought I’d write a quick post summarizing my experiences on the site and share some tips & tricks I’ve found helpful along the way.

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Making Sense of Stream Processing – A Must Read

Making Sense of Stream Processing Stumbled on this book this week, and devoured it in an afternoon.

Written by Martin Kleppmann, a distributed systems researcher and former engineer at LinkedIn (where Kafka was born), this book explores the ideas of stream processing and outlines how they can apply broadly to application architectures. It’s a small book in a report format, synthesized from a series of blog posts (linked on Martin’s website).

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AWS Cloud Best Practices

On a bit of an AWS Whitepaper binge as of late. This post catalogs some of the important highlights and takeaways I’ve had reading through a number of them. Despite the fact that it’s all presented in the context of AWS products and services, there’s a lot of information that I think is generally applicable to any cloud architecture. Reading these are a great way to get familiar with the space as no doubt other cloud providers (Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, etc.) will have similar offerings now and in the future.

Check out the References section at the bottom of this post. I’ve linked to some specific whitepapers that I found the most interesting/generally applicable.

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