1991-2016—25 years of Art & Logic

Book Review: Programming Beyond Practices

This new book from Gregory T. Brown (@practicingdev) provides a fresh look at the skills and habits that modern software developers need to possess in order to advance past the stage of slinging code around. The most clever code in the world is useless if it’s solving the wrong problem, or solving the right problem in the wrong way, whether that’s because it only addresses a user’s needs tangentially, or is brittle in the face of real world constraints. None of us should settle for being just a code monkey. Continue Reading Book Review: Programming Beyond Practices

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Go Fetch! (JavaScript Fetch API)

Long ago, we briefly brushed upon the topic of what has made jQuery such a valuable part of the web developer’s toolset for such a long time – namely, a cleaner interface for interacting with the DOM, and the $.ajax abstraction over XMLHttpRequest.

These days, I would go a step farther and discuss how it has positively influenced browser APIs. jQuery offered a way to find elements using their css selectors, and this eventually gave us document.querySelector and document.querySelectorAll. More recently, browser developers have taken another page from jQuery’s playbook and introduced a new, Promise-based API for making asynchronous requests, and so much more – Fetch.

Why go Fetch? Let’s take a look. Continue Reading Go Fetch! (JavaScript Fetch API)

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The Best Interface is an Enchanted Object

Book Review: Let’s look at a pair of books that contain deep critiques of the world where more and more of our devices’ functionality is exposed only through interfaces on screens, and lay out a path to a more human-centered technological future filled with devices that engage us more richly in a wide variety of ways instead of asking us to keep poking at black glass rectangles with our stubby fingers. Continue Reading The Best Interface is an Enchanted Object

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Designing Connected Products

Someday, you’ll be sitting at your desk, minding your own business.

Your boss, or a client, will come in and start explaining this cool new IoT project you’ll be working on. As you listen, the timeline splits:

In the Darkest Timeline, no one on your team knows about what’s discussed in this book. Your boss/client starts specifying requirements that sound cool to them, but are really bad ideas in ways that aren’t immediately evident. Your team builds the project as it was specified, and it fails in the marketplace because of mistakes that could have been avoided.

In the Prime Timeline, you’ve read this book. Continue Reading Designing Connected Products

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Smarter Debugging with Unified Logging & Activity Tracing

At WWDC this year Apple engineers gave a talk about their new Unified Logging and Activity Tracing APIs which is definitely worth checking out. I know logging isn’t exactly going to steal the headlines away from Siri integration or watchOS 3, but as a developer it’s a valuable debugging tool and the changes in these APIs look to save some significant time while debugging crashes and squashing bugs. Continue Reading Smarter Debugging with Unified Logging & Activity Tracing

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Level Up Your Coding Skills With exercism.io

A few months ago I stumbled across across an interesting open source project created by Katrina Owen called exercism.io that provides a collection of programming practice problems in over 30 languages. On the surface, it’s a great resource for learning to code or learning a new language. I’ve found however that as you dig deeper it has much more to offer on a number of levels. Continue Reading Level Up Your Coding Skills With exercism.io

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Nanobot: A Tiny Little Twitterbot Framework

There’s been a lot of talk this year about bots and conversational interfaces becoming an increasingly important tool for software developers. A few years ago I wrote about a twitterbot that I created, and I’ve just pulled out all of the common logic into a Python framework that you can use to quickly create your own twitterbots by focusing on just the bits that make your bot unique.

Check out ‘nanobot’. Continue Reading Nanobot: A Tiny Little Twitterbot Framework

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Django Channels: From The Ground Up – Part 2

Last time, we decided to embark on a brave new adventure and give our Django framework a big upgrade with the inclusion of Django Channels. We got just far enough to get the development server running, but while this may be an *adequate* start, it’s better to develop against something like what we intend to deploy, right?

So, let’s go the rest of the way and get ready to develop against something that at least resembles a standard production-ready environment with Django Channels. Continue Reading Django Channels: From The Ground Up – Part 2

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Django Channels: From The Ground Up – Part 1

You stare mournfully into the mass of code you’ve inherited. At some point, it’s clear, the requirements called for the server to push information to the client, because there’s an unholy mix of Server-Side Events, long-polling, hidden iframes and even a Java applet in there, all supporting some level of long-term connectivity with the server. It’s almost fascinating in its barely functional hideousness, and you would be inclined to leave well enough alone… except for the *new* feature specifications you’ve been assigned, which require the client to be able to send data back to the server in response to the received events, in as close to real-time as you can get.

It’s time for a major overhaul. Continue Reading Django Channels: From The Ground Up – Part 1

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What Does It Mean to Be a “Thought Leader”?

I was recently given the opportunity to present myself as a “thought leader for my industry.” I’ve been pondering this. What do I know? What do I know so deeply and fully that others might want to hear my opinions on? Not much, it seems. Actually, I don’t have nearly as many answers as I have questions. But more than this, it’s the questions that really keep me interested. Here’s an example. Continue Reading What Does It Mean to Be a “Thought Leader”?