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Developer Tools

Taking a Screenshot on Mac OS X

Screen shotThere are many ways you can take a screenshot on your Mac.  The best method often depends on the portion of the screen you need to capture and how you intend to use the captured image.

The tools and tricks themselves are not complicated, but pausing to look something up while in the middle of a work session with a client can be distracting. This blog post, therefore, is a little self serving; I simply collected my favorite options in one place as a quick reference. Hopefully it will be useful to others as well. Read more on Taking a Screenshot on Mac OS X…

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Develop Smoothly with the Right MacBook CPU

If you’re a developer shopping for a new MacBook, choosing a CPU can be confusing. Apple always gives you a handful of different CPUs options, all with different specs and prices, but it’s very difficult to understand how your development experience will be affected by this choice.

You can put thought into the other options that Apple lets you customize. For hard drive capacity, it’s easy to check the amount of space you’re using on your current machine and decide on a hard drive size for your new machine. If you’re comparing two different screen sizes, you can decide if you’d rather have a cheaper and lighter machine or a larger screen.

You can’t do that with CPUs. For instance, the latest round of 15″ Pro Retinas (released in late 2013) gives you three CPU options: Read more on Develop Smoothly with the Right MacBook CPU…

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5 Awesome Lesser-Known Chrome DevTools Features

Your development tools are important: good tools allow you to write and debug code effectively and quickly. For web development, I am constantly finding new things to love about the Chrome DevTools, which is available in every Google Chrome browser. It supports inline HTML and CSS editing, JavaScript breakpoints, viewing network calls, and many other things.

Here are some of my favorite lesser-know features of DevTools. Read more on 5 Awesome Lesser-Known Chrome DevTools Features…

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A Month with the Atom Editor

atom editor

atom editor

Vim is a good friend of mine. When we met during my freshman year of college at MTU, we quickly hit it off. I never looked back with any regret at my tiny TI-85 screen, Notepad, or QBasic where I first tinkered with bending computing devices to my whims. Since then I have tried other editors, and even used a few for extended periods for a variety of reasons (e.g., Kate because of its SSHFS and KDE tie-ins, Visual Studio for its strength with all things Microsoft). Still, through it all, Vim has been my go-to editor for nearly 15 years.

Read more on A Month with the Atom Editor…

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My Favorite Emacs Add-Ons

I love Emacs. I’ll take it hands down over vim, Sublime, Atom, and company any day. I thought I would take some time to list some of my favorite bits of Emacs and how I use them in my daily workflow.

1. Magit

Magit is an Emacs interface for git. Beyond that, it’s the best interface for git I have ever used — better than the git CLI or third-party apps like SourceTree. Magit reduces most git commands (and all of their cryptic flags) to a series of one-character shortcuts. It also introduces interactive status and log buffers that are comparable to any other git gui out there (and better than many). The best part is that version control becomes part of my editing workflow and requires no context switching. Overall I find that it massively speeds up and simplifies my git workflow and encourages me to use my VCS to its fullest extent. Read more on My Favorite Emacs Add-Ons…

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Expanding User-Defined Runtime Attributes in Xcode with Objective-C

When building a user interface, I appreciate an IDE that allows me to easily change visual elements without having to write code. Writing code for simple things like colors, borders, fonts, or shadows clutters my project. Fortunately, I work with talented designers at Atomic Object who can already use Xcode to make some of these aesthetic changes in the UI without needing to write extra code.

However, while these designers can currently make selective changes to some controls, not all of what they want to do is possible in the IDE. For instance, I cannot set a border or shadow on a UIView without writing code or change the font of a UISegmentedControl. I wish Xcode’s interface builder was more capable of changing simple properties as these.  

Fortunately, there is a feature of Xcode’s interface builder that will allow you to manually add user defined runtime attributes. You tell it the name of the property you want to change then specify the type of the property and finally the value. Read more on Expanding User-Defined Runtime Attributes in Xcode with Objective-C…

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A Tiny Toolbox for Spelunking through JSON

I rely heavily on local instances of a web or mobile application’s API during development. Since I also need to speak fluently with my data on live instances of the API, including both test and production, I’ve found that I often need to work with structured JSON data at the terminal rather than a Javascript-native environment like node.js or browsers. I’ve discovered how important the tools curl, bash, jq, and json-diff can be for this sort of work, so I’d like to share some ways they’ve been useful to me when wrangling JSON at the command-line. Read more on A Tiny Toolbox for Spelunking through JSON…

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Why Use Git?

Git Logo
I recently was asked to teach a workshop at Hope College on Git. I am jealous of the students that attended. Their curriculum includes things like unit testing and version control. Having the importance of source control shown to them so early is a major boon. Giving this talk got me thinking about why I prefer Git over other version control systems like SVN, Mercurial, Perforce, etc. Read more on Why Use Git?…

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Monitoring Your iOS Traffic

There are a number of free ‘sniffer’ tools around, for your PC or Mac, for looking at and changing the network traffic. The venerable Wireshark, Fiddler, and Burpsuite are some of the ones that I have used in the past, and still fire up today.

What about your iOS devices though? What programs are available for these, so you can see what your phone and iPad are sending out and receiving? I wouldn’t want to try and use an iOS version of Wireshark on my phone, not just because it hasn’t been ported to work on iOS, but because viewing all the data and changing it on a small phone screen is just not physically feasible. So what can you do if you want to see what your device is sending out, and how can you change what is going into it? Read more on Monitoring Your iOS Traffic…

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I Hate #regions

As software consultants, we work in many environments. Most of the time we are working in our own environment on a brand new project, but sometimes we work with a team of client developers on existing software. In the later case, we have to be mindful of their coding standards. One practice that drives me nuts is code organized into #regions.

What’s Wrong with Regions?

Microsoft introduced #regions to help organize big files into understandable chunks. In my opinion, if your code can be broken up into regions, then it can be refactored into smaller files. I try to write my classes with single responsibility in mind, where a class has a single responsibility. Therefore regions are not required to organize the code into responsibilities.

Regions are also used to separate private, public, and protected variables, properties, and functions. This is where I see them used most often. If your class is small enough, there is no need to organize them into regions. Read more on I Hate #regions…

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