Sustainable Rails is DONE!

November 16, 2020

Way back at RubyConf 2019, I announced a book about sustainable web development using Ruby on Rails, based on my 6+ y ears of experience doing so at Stitch Fix (and 18 months not doing so at LivingSocial).

It’s done, it’s 450 pages, and you can buy it now for $49.95 as an ebook (PDF, epub, Kindle, Markdown formats). If you write Rails code professionally, and struggle with keeping your app maintainable and easy to work on, this is the book for you.

In Which I Attempt to Explain Responsive Images

October 31, 2020

Getting responsive images to work via the srcset and size attributes to img is not easy, especially because almost all documentation I have found is vague as to what exactly the word “pixel” means in any given context. This post will sort that out.

Interview of SOLID Principles

June 17, 2020

I recently did an interview with local DC dev community Hatchpad about the dangers of blindly applying patterns, and how not-helpful the SOLID principles are.

One thing mentioned that isn’t in the SOLID book is that we all need to understand not just the advice we’re given, but who is giving it. What is the actual experience of the person telling us how we should code?

If someone is giving out advice I want to know – “Have you done that? Have you experienced this problem, or is it just theoretical?”

I try very hard to only give advice based on my actual experience, and I try to contexutalize that experience as much as I can to avoid it being mis-applied. It’s not easy and I don’t always do a great job, but I’m very aware of it. Even if my advice boils down to “it worked for me, anyway”, that’s better than “I haven’t tried it, but it seems neat”.

Names matter

June 11, 2020

Names of things matter. How we react to the realization that some names of some things offend some people is important. Unlike the names of countries, towns, or Army forts, computer software can actually be renamed relatively easily, yet we still struggle to have even basic conversations about it.

I want to share the way I think about it: acknowledge a person’s feelings, understand who might feel excluded by a name, decide if excluding them is OK, and, if not, figure out how to change the name.

Docker on Mac for Development with Fast Disk Access and Webpack Dev Server

May 13, 2020

I am somewhat obsessed with clean, repeatable, maintainable dev environments and Docker has all the pieces to create one. For the past several months on several projects, I’ve been using Docker (and docker-compose) to not only run services like Postgres and Redis, but also as a virtual machine in which to run all my dev commands. My Mac is only running Docker and vim.

The problem is that Docker on Mac has very slow file system access. Running bin/rails server on a fresh Rails app can take almost a minute to come up. I recently discovered that, by using NFS, file system access is way faster. This creates a bit of a problem for webpack-dev-server, but this, too, can be fixed. I want to write out what I did in case it’s helpful.

The One Strategy for Working Remotely

March 12, 2020

I worked remotely for Stitch Fix for six and a half years, originally as an engineer, then as a manager, director, technical project manager and architect. With all the tips and tricks going around, I want to talk about the one strategy to be successful working remotely. This strategy should be the basis for everything you do, and any productivity hacks that don’t roll up to this strategy should be set aside. The strategy is to build and cultivate trust.

The Law of Demeter Creates More Problems Than It Solves

January 22, 2020

Most developers, when invoking the “Law of Demeter” or when pointing out a “Demeter Violation”, do so when a line of code has more than one dot: Like the near-pointless SOLID Principles, Demeter, too, suffers from making a vague claim that drives developers to myopically unhelpful behavior.