Week in Review (Jan 18, 2016 – Jan 24, 2016)

This is the first installment of one of the threads of this blog from here on. There are a lot of things being discussed on social media. Pair that with the fact that people generally follow way too many accounts on twitter, good information can get lost or, to novices, can’t be separated from the not so important issues. The format will evolve over the next few weeks, so please leave feedback about the format if you feel it can be done better. There are no plans to advertise on this site and we’ll continue to deliver content in a way that can be easily read without taking up a lot of time.

Open-Source in Government

It’s finally starting. Governments are looking to open-source to develop with greater openness to how public money is being spent. These programs give hope to what we have been subjected to for decades: Vendor-lock-in from large companies. Billions of tax-payer dollars go to the pockets of those behind shady backroom deals when implementing, say an email system for a school district. The local government in British Columbia has implemented a Pay for Pull Request model. These first steps may not be perfect, but as there is more transparency, we can improve the systems to be even better and in an open format accessible to the public.

ProjectRider from Jetbrains

This is a game changer as you can read in the earlier post from this week. We had more evidence from Jetbrains that things are moving along! One is this screenshot of a C# application being debugged on a Linux distribution, Kubuntu:


Since JetBrains has a community edition of IntelliJ and AndroidStudio is a fork of that, we will hopefully see this get an open-source version too. The long-term outlook is that each programming language specification is open and there will be an open-source implementation of an AST (abstract-syntax-tree) for each language. This will make implementing tools that support RAD (Rapid Application Development) with code navigation, code generation and refactoring really accessible to lots of front-ends including the popular editors like sublime, vim, emacs, atom, etc.

Redefining ASP.NET Naming

This week continued to show how naming of this Microsoft technology eclipsed the ProjectRider news mentioned above – the unfortunate impact of “get on message” company mantra. To those that somehow managed to avoid the bleeting and haven’t heard, Microsoft has renamed a number of technologies to make things less confusing – one being ASP.NET’s next version to be named ASP.NET Core v. 1.0. Some that have been around the politics of Microsoft chimed in to add a bit of humour:


Feature Toggles Replace Configuration Features

Martin Fowler has published a classification of Feature Toggles – the most import distinction is identifying one as “release toggles” and the others “A/B testing toggles”. Feature toggles were clearly stated as a work around having to deal with unfinished work without branches because ThoughtWorks tied themselves to Subversion for so long. Branching – and specifically merging – were a nightmare in Subversion due to how history was stored. We can see the extent of the ties with Subversion by how late Git and Github made it to their tech radar. For those that cared about releasing quality into production to mitigate risk and enable flexibility, a few people devised a way to work with branches effectively with what Git offered – much like the Linux kernel had been managed. The argument is an involved one and you can look at the discussion from 2011 here.

C is Cool Again

One of the most popular resources this week was a the 15 free books about C programming post. As we look to minimalistic implementations, with the popularity of microservices surging, it’s no surprise that C is in the picture. Pieter Hintjens has started a book on programming Scalable C. If anyone hasn’t read thedocumentation on ZMQ, it is highly recommended, as this latest publication hopefully will have the same engaging style. Not surprising, JetBrains offers CLion as a way to develop C with the IDE features you get in Resharper and IntelliJ.

Open Parking says No To Android and iOS Apps

The popularization of the App Store model has been a fad that’s been making more companies fail than succeed from it. Most startups fail but the glory of the smooth scrolling app as the first-to-market offering is a hazardous, expensive and risky venture. Obviously, services that require camera, gyroscope, local storage and other hardware integrations don’t have a choice – but even that is changing as browsers get those abstractions right. A wonderful post by Birdly explained why the ditched their App on Google Play and elsewhere.

This strategy to use existing applications and websites such as Slack (what Birdly is using), Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp is making use of what people already use everyday. Relating to government initiatives with open-source as previously stated, the parking domain is a great place for removing any specific vendors from owning the solution and simply integrating in a similar fashion with citizens, enforcement officers and payment providers. The OpenParking project will also be used to teach certain subjects to graduates of programming bootcamps and fresh college and university grads.

Target’s Failure to Open Stores in Canada

…showed the world that you can’t buy your way out of doing the work. The article The Last Days of Targetappeared on the CanadianBusiness.com site and was initially shared by Gary Lucas. This very lengthy article showed in great detail what happens in a lot of enterprise implementations where solutions are bought with not enough investigation and why the Buy vs Build can be the exact opposite of what that argument states. TL;DR: Target Canada would have succeeded – with less money spent, in less time – if they hired their own developers and other technical staff instead of going the SAP route. Sadly, this is how most tax payer money is spent and why such companies see incredible profits.

“Taillights to Follow Through the Fog”

Robert Reppel has used this phrase to give a great visual of what is needed to implement solutions with some shared vision or ruts to follow. A post is slated for later this week on how to unify an organization with a technical vision that can be tied from CEO down to support person. Not many people are familiar with Domain Driven Design, Command Query Responsibility Segregation and Event Sourcing. The concepts touched on with these approaches gets the right discussions going in organizations to make sure they move forward with a unified understanding of architecture. Please look for the post this Thursday.

House Keeping

This blog definitely wants to move off WordPress and onto something that can be authored via markdown. The long term goal is to get more community and advisory board input via pull requests. The previous blog was authored using Octopress and hosted on Github. The migration will be done eventually. However, it’s much easier to involve a web designer if the site is done in WordPress at this moment in time. Some initial feedback about font size, comments not working and other things are the reasons participation with designers will be done with WordPress for now. Please keep your feedback coming!

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