The Practice of Practice

Perhaps the most important ability any person can have is the ability to practice, for by it almost everything else is possible.

Since having a daughter, I’ve discovered humans are born with the ability to practice. She practices new skills daily. One day it’s repeating the same sound over and over, another it’s rolling across the floor front to back, back to front. Lately it’s pulling herself to a standing position, then sitting down without falling over. She practices relentlessly, and it’s a good thing too, because practice is the only way she’ll master important skills like walking and talking.

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Implementing the Elm Architecture in ClojureScript

The Elm architecture is a simple and straight-forward alternative to the common model-view-controller architecture, and it’s well suited to functional programming.

In brief, the Elm architecture uses a data structure to render a UI, the UI fires actions, and actions are used to update the data structure. This is the same sort of uni-directional flow that React.js uses and the one that Ember.js has been gravitating toward in place of two-way data bindings.

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Getting the Architecture Right

The foundational building blocks of your software determine what’s easy and what’s not. It’s important to know how the choices you make at the lowest level will affect your ability to build features down the road. When your software architecture doesn’t match the problem domain, it feels like walking uphill. When you get it right, features seem to come together on their own.

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Domain-Specific Languages vs. Notation

Programming languages often advertise themselves as being well-suited for writing domain-specific languages (DSLs), languages within the programming language that express the concepts rather than the mechanics of the code. Ruby is probably the most popular such language, but many others—such as Scala, CoffeeScript, and Io—also try to make it easy to write code that’s human-readable.

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Setting Up a Project Workspace in Tmux

As a developer, I spend a lot of time working in the terminal. Besides starting long-running daemons such as web servers in the terminal, I also use Git, Vim, and other command line tools throughout the day, and terminal sessions tend to pile up. On any given day, I can have more than a dozen terminal sessions open at a time, and that’s just for one project. Read more on Setting Up a Project Workspace in Tmux…

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Stow Your Dotfiles – GNU Stow for Managing Symlinks

If you’ve done much work with command line tools, you’ve undoubtedly wrestled with dotfiles, those pesky configuration files in your home directory that are hidden from view by having a dot at the beginning of their name. Bash uses a .bashrc configuration file. Vim uses a .vimrc file and a .vim directory for additional scripts. Tmux uses a .tmux.conf file. Git uses a global .gitconfig. Untold other tools follow the pattern.

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Technical Spikes – Rehearsing Your Software

At AgileConf 2014, John Krewson presented “The Show Must Go On: Leadership Lessons Learned from a Life in Theater” in which he outlined parallels between the stage acting and software development. Among his points on how project management is like directing and hiring is like casting, John remarked that when a director is preparing a performance, they don’t assemble the actors, distribute scripts, and say, “We’re all professionals. See you on opening night.” Even when everyone on the team is an A-lister, they still need to rehearse.

The same goes for software development.

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Agility is about Accuracy

When you work with Atomic Object, you’ll hear a lot about Agile software development. Agile takes many different forms, but all of them are, at heart, about writing better software faster. Agile is part philosophy, part methodology, and part discipline. The Agile Manifesto emphasizes people instead of mechanical processes.

But before diving into the specifics of how Agile works, let’s back up and look at the problem Agile is trying to solve. Why come up with a new system in the first place?

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Plays Well with Others – Lessons in Reusable Tooling

I’ve used many languages for my scripting needs, but my favorite — believe it or not — is probably Bash. Bash may not have any types, and scripting with Bash may be fraught with pitfalls, but sometimes the problem at hand is solved most succinctly and elegantly with small focused programs that compose well.

Bash’s composition comes in the form of piping one program’s output into the next program. No program needs to know where its input comes from, just like Lego blocks don’t care what block they stack on. This is an incredibly useful approach. For instance, take a look at how easy it is process the contents of the clipboard:

pbpaste | base64 | pbcopy

We just base64-encoded whatever was in the clipboard (at least, on Mac OS X; Linux has similar programs under different names, and on Windows you may need to write your own versions of pbpaste and pbcopy). You can use pbpaste and pbcopy and the rest of the Bash toolbox to do whatever processing of clipboard text you have in mind, and thanks to pipes, you can do it very concisely. Read more on Plays Well with Others – Lessons in Reusable Tooling…