Archive for the ‘Testing’ Category
Posted by Jakub Holý on December 31, 2013
- HBR: Want to Build Resilience? Kill the Complexity – a highly interesting, thought provoking article relevant both to technology in particular and the society in general; f.ex.: more security features are bad for they make us behave less safely (risk compensation) and are more fragile w.r.t. unexpected events. “Complexity is a clear and present danger to both firms and the global financial system: it makes both much harder to manage, govern, audit, regulate and support effectively in times of crisis. [..] Combine complex, Robust-Yet-Fragile systems, risk-compensating human psyches, and risk-homeostatic organizational cultures, and you inevitably get catastrophes of all kinds: meltdowns, economic crises, and the like.” The solution to future financial crisis is primarily not more regulation but simplification of the system – to make it easier to police, tougher to game. We also need to decrease interconnectednes (of banks etc.), one of the primary sources of complexity. Also a great example of US Army combatting complex, high-risk situations by employing “devil’s advocates / professional skeptics” trained to help “avoid the perils of overconfidence, strategic brittleness, and groupthink. The goal is to respectfully help leaders in complex situations unearth untested assumptions, consider alternative interpretations and “think like the other”“.
- The Dark Side of Technology – technologies provide great opportunities – but also risks we should be aware of – they create a world of mounting performance pressure for all of us (individuals, companies, states), accelerate the rate of change, increasing uncertanity (=> risk of Taleb’s black swans). “All of this mounting pressure has an understandable but very dangerous consequence. It draws out and intensifies certain cognitive biases [..]” – magnify our perception of risk, shrink our time horizons, foster a more and more reactive approach to the world, the “if you win, I will lose” view, erode our ability to trust anyone – and “combined effect of these cognitive biases increases the temptation to use these new digital infrastructures in a dysfunctional way: surveillance and control in all aspects of our economic, social and political life.” => “significantly increase[d] the likelihood of an economic, social and political backlash, driven by an unholy alliance between those who have power today and those who have achieved some modest degree of income and success.“
Complexity theory: the more connected a system is, the more vulnerable it becomes to cascades of disruptive information/action.
- What Do Government Agencies Have Against 23andMe, Uber, and Airbnb? – innovative startups do not fit into established rules and thus bureaucrats do not know how to handle them and resort to their favourite weapon: saying no, i.e. enforcing rules that harm them (f.ex. France recently passed a law that requires Uber etc. drivers to wait 15 min before picking up a customer so that established taxi services have it easier; wot?!)
- Nonviolent communication in action – wonderful stories about NVC being applied in difficult situations with a great success
- Quora: Michael Wolfe’s answer to Engineering Management: Why are software development task estimations regularly off by a factor of 2-3? – a wonderful story explaining to a layman why estimation is hard, on the example of a hike from SF to LA
- Johannes Brodwall: Why I stopped using Spring [IoC] – worth to read criticism of Spring by a respected and experienced architect and developer; summary – dependency injection is good bug “magical” frameworks decrease understandability and encourage unnecessarily complex code => smaller code, , easier to navigate and understand and easier to test
- Misunderstanding technical debt – a brief discussion of the various forms of tech. debt (crappy code x misaligned design and problem domain x competence debt)
- Tension and Flaws Before Health Website Crash – surprising lack of understanding and tensions between the government and contractors on HealthCare.gov – “a huge gap between the administration’s grand hopes and the practicalities of building a website that could function on opening day” – also terribly decision making, shifting requirements (what news!), management’s lack of decision power, CGI’s blame-shifting. A nice horror story. The former head knew that they should “greatly simplify the site’s functions” – but the current head wasn’t able to “talk them out of it”.
- The Log: What every software engineer should know about real-time data’s unifying abstraction – logs are everywhere and especially important in distributed apps – DB logs, append-only logs, transaction logs – “You can’t fully understand databases, NoSQL stores, key value stores, replication, paxos, hadoop, version control, or almost any software system without understanding logs” – I have only read a small part but it looks useful
- What I Wish I Knew When Learning Haskell tl;dr
- Better Than Unit Tests – a good overview of testing approaches beyond unit tests – including “Automated Contract Testing” (ability to define a contract for a web service, use it to test it and to simulate it; see Internet of Strings for more info), Property-based Testing (test generic properties using random data/calls as with Quickcheck), Fault Injection (run on multiple VMs, simulate network failures), Simulation Testing as with Simulant.
- Use #NoEstimates to create options and deliver value reliably – a brief post with an example of an estimation-based vs. no-estimates project (i.e. more focus on delivering early, discovery)
- How Google Sold Its Engineers on Management – managers may be useful after all :-); a report about Google’s research into management and subsequent (sometimes radical) improvements in management style/skills and people satisfaction; I love that Google hasn’t HR but “people ops”
- Roy Osherove: Technical Disobedience – take nothing for granted, don’t let the system/process stop you, be creative about finding ways to improve your team’s productivity; there always is a way. Nice examples.
- Uncle Bob: Extreme Programming, a Reflection – a reflection on changes in the past ~ 14 years since XP that have seen many of the “extreme” practices becoming mainstream
- The Anti-Meeting Manifesto – essentially a checklist and tips for limitting meetings to minimum
- Ethics Daily – a freuently published collection of ethics-related links, articles, talks etc.
- British Library uploads one million public domain images to the net for remix and reuse – from 17th-19th century books, available at Flicker; it asks for help categorizing and documenting them, metadata of the images at GitHub (with links to Flicker); great project, interesting pics
- The Software Engineers’ Oath – lets bring ethics back to our daily (work) lives – respect the knowledge of others, use technology for good (!!!), keep learning, writing code for people, not ashamed to admit lack of knowledge, respect for privacy, obligation to make lifes of humans better, …
- David Pollak: Some musings on Scala and Clojure by a long time Scala dude (46 min) – a subjective but balanced comparison of Scala and Clojure and their strengths/weaknesses by the author of the Scala Lift framework (doing Scala since 2006, Clojure since 2013)
- Apache Sirona – a new monitoring tool in the Apache incubator – “a simple but extensible monitoring solution for Java applications” with support for HTTP, JDBC, JAX-RS, CDI, ehcache, with data published e.g. to Graphite or Square Cube. It is still very new.
- GenieJS – Ctrl-Space to popup a command-prompt for your web page, inspired by Alfred (type ‘ to see all possible commands)
A good #agile team considers their backlog inaccurate. It is merely a list of assumptions that must be tested & refined by shipping product
- @mick maguire 12/10
Ada Lovelace (1st program), Grace Hopper (1st compiler), Adele Goldberg (1st OO language), why would anyone think women aren’t in computing?
- @Dan North 12/11
There will always be a shortage of talented, self-motivated creative professionals who will unquestioningly follow orders.
- @Thomas K Nilsson 12/7
Estimation paradox = If something unpredictable happens, predict how long it will take to fix it
- me 12/7
IT systems can be inspired by AK-47 a.k.a. Kalashnikov. The rifle was purposefully designed to be simple and to be tolerant to imperfections in most parts; as a result, it required essentially no maintenance and was extremely reliable.
- summarized from Roman Pichlík’s Odkaz Michaila Kalašnikova softwarovému vývoji
Posted by Jakub Holý on November 27, 2013
A short story about the complexity of magical frameworks and dependency injection with a happy ending, featuring Resteasy, CDI, and JBoss.
Once upon time, I have created a JAX-RS webservice that needed to supply data to a user’s session. I wanted to be fancy and thus created a
@Singleton class for the exchange of information between the two (since only a user request serving code can legally access her session, a global data exchange is needed). However sharing the singleton between the REST service and JSF handler wasn’t so easy:
- Originally, the singleton was generic:
OneTimeMailbox<T> – but this is not supported by CDI so I had to create a derived class (annotated with
- While everything worked in my Arquillian test, at runtime I got NullPointerException because the
@Inject-ed mailbox was null in the service, for reasons unclear. According to the internets, CDI and JAX-RS do not blend well unless you use ugly tricks such as annotating your service with
@RequestScoped (didn’t help me) or use JBoss’ resteasy-cdi module.
Finally I got fed up by all the complexity standing in my way and reverted to plain old Java singleton (
OneTimeMailbox.getInstance()) while making testing possible with multiple instances by having
a setter taking the mailbox on each class using it (the service and JSF bean) (using a constructor might be even better).
Result? Actually better testability and simpler code.
Bjørn Borud and Johannes Brodwall were right – plain old Java is better than magical frameworks and magical DI is evil. (Though they would diapprove of JBoss and likely prefered if I used a plain servlet instead of JAX-RS for my very simple case.)
Update: As pointed out by Daniel Kolman now and others previously, dependency injection itself isn’t bad (though some would argue), it is only magic DI that is a problem. You can well do DI yourself using plain old Java – see Bakksjø: The inverse of IoC is Control, Perry: Do-It-Yourself Dependency Injection (pdf; quote: “[..] shows how dependency injection can be accomplished without any framework. The same benefits provided by frameworks can be realized using “do-it-yourself” (DIY) handcrafted code.“; recommended by Google’s test master Miško Hevery who is a fan of DI because it helps with testability).
Posted in j2ee, Testing, Uncategorized | Tagged: cdi, design, DI, REST, simplicity | 6 Comments »
Posted by Jakub Holý on October 31, 2013
- Google engineers insist 20% time is not dead—it’s just turned into 120% time – it is interesting to see how has this evolved; “I have done many engineering/coding 20% projects and other non-engineering projects, with probably 20-40% producing “real” results (which over 7 years I think has been more than worth it for the company). But these projects are generally not rewarded.” [highlight mine]
- The Worst Daily Scrum Ever – a story whose bad part is a too common reality; if energy is low, nobody asks for / offers help, and people only report status / plans then you are doing the daily scrum wrong and should stop now (but it also documents a nice example of a good, effective scrum)
- Why Responsive Design is a Waste of Time – a refreshingly critical take on responsive design; the author now aknowledges that it is sometimes worth the pain but the points are still valid – responsive design requires (lot of) extra work, the attempt to create a one-size-fits-all site of course adds considerable complexity (having two separate simple frontends might be better than one that is too complex), also many sites are good enough as they are (especially taking into account the capabilities of mobile browsers)
- How to lose $172,222 a second for 45 minutes – i.e. your bugs are likely not so serious after all A financial company screwed big and ended up bankrupt. The cause? Chaotic DevOps, not removing old unused code, reusing a feature flag instead of creating a new one, lack of monitoring. The story in short: They deployed new trading code but failed to notice that it has not been deployed to one of the 8 servers; due to the flag reuse, the old, 10 years unused code has been activated instead. Due to the lack of monitoring they did not notice the cause, tried to roll back while leaving the flag enabled thus effectively activating the bad code on all the servers. => have proper automated and self-checking deployments, delete old code, do not repurpose old switches.
- 40 Inappropriate Actions to Take Against an Unlocked (Windows) PC – good tips for promoting security and having fun at the same time; I shall keep this at hand
- How to go about ‘proving’ why dynamically typed languages are better – a cultivated and interesting discussion; as argueed, thinking in this direction is itself wrong and in different contexts, different languages will be more appropriate. I also like Phil Lord’s “Programming is a highly fashion-centric occupation for any number of reasons.” and “For me, the main advantage is that you are not forced to build complex hierarchies just to support the type system ([..]), and that having only a few abstractions makes it worthwhile adding lots of functions operating over them.” and L. Petit’s “IMHO, the question is irrelevant. It implicitly assumes that statically typed vs dynamically typed is a black / white choice, and that either ‘static wins over dynamic’ or ‘dynamic wins over static’ will be a true statement whatever the context.” Also a good observation that types are only a subset of function contract enforcement and one of possible implementations.
- The Failure of Governmental IT (Learnings From HealthCare.gov) – links to a few really good articles about the problems with governmental IT in general and my summary of them
- Inside the Arctic Circle, Where Your Facebook Data Lives – the designs of data centers used to be proprietary secrets until Fb developed its own and open-sourced them, enabling many Asian manufactures to start creating cheaper datacenters and thus started a revolution in this domain. Facebook’s data centers are not general purpose but suitable ot the kind of work they need, but it is still widely applicable. Cool to see how they use natural conditions to get energy needs down and make HW that fits best their needs – that is what I call innovation!
- Academia.edu (via @RiczWest) – a rich source of free research papers – just register as an independant researcher; also lean/agile/systems thinking and other interesting topics
+ Username +
- Johannes Brodwall: A canonical web test – a simple web app end-to-end smoke test – using an embedded Jetty, a test DB (preferably in-memory), WebDriver to test it (simple: browser.get(“/people”), assertThat(browser.findElement(<person id>.contains(<person’s name>)); simple, nice, useful
- LearnGitBranching – an online game to learn branching & rebase in git; use the menu in the lower-right corner to navigate between the levels etc. You can also execute commands “show goal”, “hint”, “level” to navigate around; pretty cool and great for learning the command line commands
Society & people
Not a typical topic I share here but really worth it this time.
- The ocean is broken – a saddening story worth reading to learn what does your tuna sandwitch cost and where does all the plastic we use end up. From a sailing trip from Melbourne to US where there were plenty of fish (and birds) 10 years ago – and 2 this year, killed to a noticable degree by huge fishing ships that catch tuna – and kill and throw away all the other “junk” fish. Nowadays fish are replaced by plastic and other waste that actually prevents usage of the engine unless somebody can watch for dangerous nets and ropes leftovers. Earth, where are you falling to?
- The Guardian: Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex? – sad and interesting to observe what happens when the system is set up so that people “can’t be bothered” to have inter-sexual relationships, partnership, and children. Japan needs a good deal of systems thinking to fix its broken society where women do not want children because it would cost them their career and neither men nor women are willing to subjects themselves to the social pressure and demands associated with relationships.
- The Guardian: 29 million people enslaved, says first global index on slavery – welcome to the 21st century! The leading slave countries are India (14M), China (3M), Pakistan (2M). Also, slaves are building the world cup stadion in Qatar.
- They’re Taking Over! – how we managed to destroy sea ecosystems and helped the now unstoppable return of jellyfish – Jellyfish are evidently very veried and extemely resilient and have been hold at bay only by rather complex ecosystems that we managed to destabilize so much that Jellyfish are on their way back to ruling all the sees again (destroying the rests of the ecosystems – i.e. fish – on the way); a sad future for the sea, Earht, and us
- LightTable 0.5.9 got elementary paredit commands
- Amazonica: A comprehensive Clojure client for the entire Amazon AWS api – best with a REPL!
- Clojure Understood: the Rush Hour Platform – application of the design best practices promoted in the Clojure community (separation of concerns, simplicity, …) on a project – “highly accurate vehicle traffic simulations”; I have only started reading it but it looks highly interesting
- Clojure content at InfoQ – articles, news, interviews, presentations etc.
- A bitter taste [of EuroClojure] – we as a community must embrace diversity and stop fostering our egos by mocking other than our holy editor (and, I would add, by mocking other languages and in general mocking whatever); respect and open minds, please!
- Garden – Clojure alternative to scss/less – still needs time to mature and gain tooling support but it is cool that it exists
- C. Emerick’s Austin, the ClojureScript REPL over nREPL – 1) Start nREPL (via lein repl, from your editor…), 2.a) Execute austin’s exec to start a ClojureScript REPL in it, backed by headless PhantomJS or a real browser – or, alternatively, 2.b) create a C.S. REPL connected to your webapp, as described in the browser-connected-repl-sample. You should watch this 8 min demo.
- WhiteHat Aviator – A Safer Web Browser – WhiteHat, a well-known security company, has released a browser that aims at improving privacy by preventing user tracking (f.ex. but not sending referral URL) and blocking ads even at the cost of occassional slight discomfort, i.e. something that the mainstream browsers are not interested in. So far for OS X only.
- EnvPane – a preference pane for environment variables for Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) – set env. vars for GUI/terminal apps, no need to log out upon change
Weinberg: Bureaucracy is what we do when we no longer remember why we are doing it
- via Ben Simo, no source specified so it may be fake but anyway it is valid
Posted in General, Languages, Testing, Top links of month | Tagged: aws, clojure, ClojureScript, design, earth, ecology, Git, innovation, privacy, science, scrum, security | 4 Comments »
Posted by Jakub Holý on September 30, 2013
- Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For September 13, 2013 – a collection of interesting performance related articles with summaries (via @_dagi)
- Can you copy a culture? The NUMMI story (audio/transcript) – how the GM factory with the worst workforce has been turned around via a good application of Toyota Production System – “a truly inspiring story of human potential and how systems can be designed to bring the best or worst of of people.” And how GM failed to learn from it and to copy Toyota’s culture.
- The Reactive Manifesto – why to write reactive SW – “Reactive applications represent a balanced approach to addressing a wide range of contemporary challenges in software development. Building on an event-driven, message-based foundation, they provide the tools needed to ensure scalability and resilience. On top of this they support rich, responsive user interactions. We expect that a rapidly increasing number of systems will follow this blueprint in the years ahead.“
- NYT: Eiji Toyoda, Promoter of the Toyota Way and Engineer of Its Growth, Dies at 100 – learn about the life of one of the founders of lean thinking
- Gojko Adzic: How we solved our #1 product management problem – valuable experience of false assumptions, learning from users, and a much helpful UI remake: even if you build a product to scratch your itch, you have to test it with real users
- Don’t use Hadoop – your data isn’t that big – a great post about the downside of Hadoop and that there are much better options (large disks, large RAM, Pandas/R/Postgres) for data up to few TBs. “In addition to being more difficult to code for, Hadoop will also nearly always be slower than the simpler alternatives.”
- Gartner On Big Data: Everyone’s Doing It, No One Knows Why – golf talk / hype -driven initiatives FTW! “According to a recent Gartner report, 64% of enterprises surveyed indicate that they’re deploying or planning Big Data projects. Yet even more acknowledge that they still don’t know what to do with Big Data.”
- What makes Spark exciting – why it might be a good replacement for Hive/Hadoop, based on experiences with H/H: “Hive has served us well for quite a while now. [...] That said, it has gotten to the point where Hive is more frequently invoked in negative contexts (“damn it, Hive”) than positive. (Primarily due to being hard to test, hard to extend.)” “We had heard about Spark, but did not start trying it until being so impressed by the Spark presentation at AWS re:Invent [..] that we wanted to learn more. [..] Spark, either intentionally or serendipitously, addresses both of Hive’s primary shortcomings, and turns them into huge strengths. (Easy to test, extend.) [..] I find the codebase small and very easy to read, [..] –which is a nice consolation compared to the daunting codebases of Hadoop and Hive.” Cons.: Spark is only pre-1.0, the author hasn’t yet tested it heavily.
- 10 Ways to Make Your Office Fun To Work In – because we spend there plenty of our time so why not have a pleasant/cosy, inspiring environment? Some tips: plants, not-your-boring-enteprprise-look-and-feel, open it to the nature (I want this!), design it as home, not office, provide play space (I am too into work to want to play but having a resting place for a nap is st. I’d love).
- Book: The Architecture of Open Source Applications (via @rmz) – learn by studying architectures of existing systems – “In these two books, the authors of four dozen open source applications explain how their software is structured, and why. What are each program’s major components? How do they interact? And what did their builders learn during their development?“
- Book: Seven Concurrency Models in Seven Weeks: When Threads Unravel – “how to exploit different parallel architectures to improve your code’s performance, scalability, and resilience” – threads & locks, actors, FP + immutability/futures/promisses, Software Transactional Memory etc., GPU, MapReduce on clusters, … (intro) Personally, I would prefer from theory to practice approach and mention of CSP (-> Go’s channels, core.async) and more.
- Books Amazon CEO requires his top execs to read (The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker, The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton Christensen, The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt)
- Stanford engineers build computer using carbon nanotube technology (via
- NYT: The Banality of Systemic Evil – a good article about human tendency to “obey the system” thus potentially causing evil – and thus the need to resist the system, as heroic individuals such as Snowden, Hammond, Schwartz, Manning. See the famous Eichmann in Jerusalem for how “doing your job” can create evil – “[..] what happens when people play their “proper” roles within a system, following prescribed conduct with respect to that system, while remaining blind to the moral consequences of what the system was doing — or at least compartmentalizing and ignoring those consequences.” (Tip: The book Moral Mazes explores the ethics of decision making within several corporate bureaucracies => mid-managers rules of life: (1) never go around your boss, (2) tell the boss what she wants to hear, (3) drop what she wants dropped, (4) anticipate what the boss wants so that she doesn’t need to act as a boss to get it, (5) do not report something the boss does not want reported, cover it up; the the job & keep your mouth shut.) “The bureaucracy was telling him [Snowden] to shut up and move on (in accord with the five rules in “Moral Mazes”), but Snowden felt that doing so was morally wrong.” “[..] there can be no expectation that the system will act morally of its own accord. Systems are optimized for their own survival and preventing the system from doing evil may well require breaking with organizational niceties, protocols or laws.“
- Fairphone – “A seriously cool smartphone that puts social values first” (likely the only one not built by poorly paid workers and creating too much ecological burden), for just €325. You can see detailed cost breakdown, list of suppliers, specs, and essentially everything. This is, in my opinion, super cool! Go and read the story!
- Amazonica – “A comprehensive Clojure client for the entire Amazon AWS api.”
- Talk Ritz, The Missing Clojure Tooling (40min, 9/2013) – thanks to this I finally understood how to use Ritz but it still seems not to work well, f.ex. setting a breakpoint always reported “Set 0 breakpoints” (lein ritz/middleware 0.7.0, nrepl-ritz.el 0.7.1); according to callen, debug-repl is simpler and nicer if you only care about local vars and evaluation. To try ritz: use M-x nrepl-ritz-jack-in, then M-x nrepl-ritz-break-on-exception, exec. f.ex. “(/ 1 0)”. In the poped-up buffer, t or enter to show frame locals, e to eval a code in the context of the frame etc. If you managed to trigger the debug buffer through a breakpoint, the actions lists would contain STEP etc. (See fun. nrepl-ritz-line-breakpoint)
- C. Grand’s spreadmap – “library to turn Excel spreadsheets in persistent reactive associative structures” => access content via map functions; changing a value updates formula cells using it
- Alembic Reloads your Leiningen project.clj Dependencies – add a dependency to your project.clj w/o needing to restart your REPL (just call (alembic.still/load-project), provided you have it in your lein dependencies). Limitations: cannot remove deps or change versions.
- Defeating stack overflows – techniques for transforming mutually recursive calls etc. into something that won’t blow the stack – “Priming the pump” (memoize subresults first), core.async
- Google Groups: Clean Architecture for Functional Programming – How do the Clean Architecture and the Clean Code best practices apply to FP (Clojure/Haskell)? Some points: OOP isn’t worse than FP, only people do class-oriented programming instead; OO better e.g. for UIs, combining them (func. core, imperative shell) can be sometimes best. Some clean arch. patterns are actually more like functions – “Interactors and Presenters, for example, do not maintain any state of their own. Even those objects that do imply some kind of state, such as entities and gateways, keep that state hidden behind boundaries and present a functional interface instead.“
- night-vision: Handy, super light weight debugging utility – add it to your lein profile and then call
(night-vision.goggles/introspect-ns! '<name of ns>) and it will print each entry/exit of a function within the scope of the namespace with the argument/return values
- Nil Punning (Or Null Pointers Considered Not So Bad) – a great post about why nil in Clojure is not bad contrary to Java’s null (because it is actually an object, you can call functions on it, treat it as false/empty list/map/set, most core functions work on it)
Posted by Jakub Holý on September 3, 2013
Are you using Puppet in the client-server setup and want to test the configuration for a particular node without actually changing it? You can do that by fooling Puppet Master into believing that a Vagrant virtual machine (VM) is that node and applying it there. The process is simple: you essentially only need to get the nodes’ cert/private key and supply them to Puppet (and likely make sure that the hostname puppet can be resolved from within the VM). Let’s see it in detail.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Testing | Tagged: DevOps, puppet, vagrant | Comments Off
Posted by Jakub Holý on June 30, 2013
Agile, process, SW dev, people etc.
- Real Options—a Mindset – an intro into the Real Options approach, which has been quite a hot topic and a transformational way of thinking for a number of inspiring people (Dan North, Liz Keogh etc.). “Real Options help us to better make decisions and commitments with three simple principles: Options have value. Options expire. Never commit early unless you know why.” We can “pay” to keep our options open longer, i.e. to avoid commiting prematurely.
- Demystifying the CHAOS report’s claim of ~ 1/2 features being unused: the Standish Group’s CHAOS report has been often quoted for its “finding” that a large percentage of features in applications is never/rarely used. However this claim seems to have never been confirmed, their “research” is reportedly not very scientific and not publicly available for scrutiny. Critique by Laurent Bossavit (2013), Jorge Aranda’s Standish, the CHAOS report, and science. Thx to @smalltalk80 for pointing this out! However there is one research, Online Experimentation at Microsoft, that supports the claim, in a different context but the same problem applies to features: “Evaluating well-designed and executed experiments that were designed to improve a key metric, only about one-third were successful at improving the key metric!”
- Why Yammer believes the traditional engineering organizational structure is dead – small teams, small projects (2-10 people, 2-10 weeks), no separation into front/middle tier/backend team (=> communication, design obstacle); have instead people specializing in these areas and construct feature teams from them based on the actual needs; engineers, not managers do eng. decisions; all aligned via focusing on the same 3 key metrics. Small projects => constant sense of urgency (and excitement): Often very long projects cause engineers to lose track of the end goal. Think of it in terms of hiking: start fresh & excited, get tired and losing track of the goal, excited again at the end => cut out the middle part, keep them in the exciting state where they can measure progress and see it visually; it’s the only way to maintain urgency and morale. Focus: people alwasy work only at one (short) project at a time (there are special bug-fixing teams for maintenance tasks with people rotating in&out).
- Agile development is more culture than process – Why thinking of agile as culture and not just process explains resistance and difficulty in teaching and learning the approach – and should be taught so => 1. Underscore agile values that motivate practice; 2. Identify organization values that compete with agile values, conflict of values; 3. Be sensitive to culture shock.
- Mark Zuckerberg’s Letter to Investors: ‘The Hacker Way’ (quite long, you might want to read only “The Hacker Way” part at the end) – about Facebook’s “unique culture and management approach” – “Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete.” “Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once.” “Instead of debating for days [..], hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works.” “Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic.” “Many of our most successful products came out of hackathons, [..].” <=> five core values: Focus on Impact (focus on solving the most important problems, be good at finding the biggest problems to work on); Move Fast (“[..] if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.”); Be Bold (“Building great things means taking risks.”); Be Open (=> effort to make as much info as possible visible to all); Build Social Value (“[..] Facebook exists to make the world more open and connected, and not just to build a company. “)
- Dave Nicolett: I know how to tie my shoes – on the difficulty of convincing people to try unfamiliar software development techniques – “People change the way they operate when they are experiencing some sort of inconvenience or negative feedback. As long as things are going along reasonably well, people don’t go out of their way to change the way they work.” (with few exceptions) You can learn to tie your shoes in a split second, but why to invest the effort? You’d need to set aside assumptions, suppress habits, practice. You can argument there are many inconveniences (bugs, criticism for slow delivery, …) but “Unfortunately, that’s all pretty normal, and most people in the software field are accustomed to it. They don’t see it as a problem that calls for them to change their practices. Most of them probably have a hard time visualizing a different reality.” => Maybe that’s the reason there’s been no satisfactory answer to the question of how to convince people to adopt different practices. We shouldn’t be trying to convince people to do anything. We should be helping people solve their problems and achieve their goals. If they are satisfied with the outcomes they achieve using their current methods, then there is no problem to solve.
- Kent Beck: Pace of Progress = Pace of Feedback – ‘”The pace of my progress is completely constrained by the pace of my feedback”. If I want to go faster, it’s hard to achieve by going faster. I can almost always optimize my feedback loop, though.’ “The second lesson from this episode is that it’s not just the duration of the feedback loop that matters, it’s also the quality. All week I was working in tiny little iterations. Without producing useful information, though, those iterations could be as small or as large as I liked, I was still just going to spin my wheels.” => “The next time I seem to be going slow, I’m going to look at my whole feedback loop–duration, quality and my ability to respond to the information.“
- What Google Has Learned About How to Hire People – interview results have no relation to actual performance on the job: “We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship. It’s a complete random mess.” “Instead, what works well are structured behavioral interviews, where you have a consistent rubric for how you assess people, [..]” ‘Behavioral interviewing also works — where you’re not giving someone a hypothetical, but you’re starting with a question like, “Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem.”’ Link to an interesting book, Hiring Geeks That Fit.
Cool tech stuff
- The Elixir language – Clojure + Ruby + Erlang - a functional meta-programming aware language built on top of the Erlang VM; a dynamic language with flexible syntax with macros support that leverages Erlang’s abilities to build concurrent, distributed, fault-tolerant applications with hot code upgrades. First-class support for pattern matching, polymorphism via protocols, etc. (via @bodil)
- Random Testing seems to be gaining popularity and looks very interesting; at NDC Oslo, John Hughes has presented how QuickCheck, which generates random sequences of API calls, has been successfully used to find bugs in the Riak DB and a file system that a human would never think of, and Stuart Halloway has presented simulation testing with Simulant, which runs predefined actions according to a probabilistic model (e.g. 100 traders, each having 1h mean time between trades and mean traded amount 100, the test runs for 4 simulated hours). Something worth exploring!
- Dmytro Navrotskyy’s collection of Frontend Development resources and learning materials for tools (grunt, unused css detection,..), best practices (Atomic Design, …), JS/CSS frameworks, typography, animation, visualization, useful on-line services, and many more (via Herman Schistad)
- The Secret To 10 Million Concurrent Connections – The Kernel Is The Problem, Not The Solution: To have really fast SW, you need to implement your own core services (FS, net driver (packet handling), thread scheduling, ..) tuned for your app. You need to be aware of the clock-time cost of cache misses, memory access etc.. Custom solutions are times faster than what the general OS kernel can offer. => “data plane oriented system” Core areas and solutions for them: packet scalability, multi-core scalability (locks are expensive), memory scalability.
- M. Fowler: EmbeddedDocument – a pattern for working with JSON flowing in/out of our services (REST <-> JSON-friendly DB) without unnecessary conversions but with good encapsulation; naive approach: json -> object graph -> (processing) -> json; “In many of these situtiations a better way to proceed is to keep the data in a JSONish form, but still wrap it with objects to coordinate manipulation.” – use a lib to parse the JSON into a generic structure (e.g. a structure of lists, and maps/dicts) and store in a field of an object defining methods that encapsulate it – f.ex. for an Order we could have a method returning the customer and another computing the cost, accessing the underlying generic structure. The user of the wrapper object doesn’t need to know/care about the underlying structure. “The sweet spot for an embedded document is when you’re providing the document in the same form that you get it from the data store, but still want to do some manipulation of that data. [..] The order object needs only a constructor and a method to return its JSON representaiton. On the other hand as you do more work on the data – more server side logic, transforming into different representations – then it’s worth considering whether it’s easier to turn the data into an object graph.”
- ThoughtWorks’ Approach To Big Data Analytics – an inspiring, brief read. Some really good points such as “It’s not about Data. It’s about Insight and Impact” => “focus on the questions you’d love to answer for your business” => “changing big data from a technological problem to a business solution.” Also “The value of data is only realised through insight. And insight is useless until it’s turned into action.” Measure the value you gain at each step. See Introducing Agile Analytics: A Value-Driven Approach to Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing by Ken Collier
- Wired.com, Nassim Taleb: Beware the Big Errors of ‘Big Data’ – in big data, noise has much stronger effect and in a large enough dataset we will always find spurious (i.e. false) relationships => beware! “Well, if I generate (by simulation) a set of 200 variables — completely random and totally unrelated to each other — with about 1,000 data points for each, then it would be near impossible not to find in it a certain number of “significant” correlations of sorts. But these correlations would be entirely spurious.”
- A Taste of Salt: Like Puppet, Except It Doesn’t Suck – a deescription of Salt and the tools around by an enthusiastic user with deep experience with Puppet. Highlights: Light-weight communication over ZeroMQ, very active community, simplicity, configuration is YAML, Salt-cloud can spin instances in EC2/Openstack/…, Salt-virt does the same for virtual machines (KVM/Xen/…), Salt-vagrant, Salt-monitor (work in progess) can ask all the server for their stats. “Having stood up a number of different configuration management systems across a wide variety of environments, I’ve yet to find a solution that’s as rapid to deploy, simple to scale, or as well architected as Salt.”
- Trash Your Servers and Burn Your Code: Immutable Infrastructure and Disposable Components – leveraging the lectures of PF to have a stable infrastructure – instead of updating servers, throw them away and create a new one from scratch (requires virtualization/cloud); this is something that Netlfix is doing and also Comoyo is moving towards
- Robin Ward: AngularJS vs Ember – a nice overview of the different approaches of the two; the author is strongly pro-Ember, claiming that AngularJS is much closer to low-end libraris like Backbone/Knockout and that you will often need the additional features of Ember. The comments provide the right countrweight to the biased post and form thus a good whole together.
- Scala Productivity. A Survey of the Community – people (that asnwered) seem to be productive with Scala right from the start
- After Your Job Is Gone – an interesting essay on the future, which, according to the author, we can already see happening, when technology will take away most of our work and we will not need to work all day. Not very optimistic, though (the author predicts few reach and many poor people).
- Clojure Cup 2013, Sept 28-29 – create something cool with Clojure/ClojureScript within 48h and perhaps win a price! #fun
- Clojure use in the industry – examples at an e-mail forum – Netflix, Puppet Labs (e.g. PuppetDB), UBS (talk), Deutsche Bank (talk, some details), Citigroup (reportedly “the largest private sector deployment of Clojure to date,” 11/2012), getprismatic.com (with frontend moving to ClojureScript; -> Why Prismatic Goes Faster With Clojure), Roomkey.com (details in a Relevance podcast), MastodonC.com (big data), Trend Micro, Walmart, beanstalkapp.com, ReadyForZero.com (50kLoC), www.cognician.com (20kLoC), World Singles (13kLoC) and more… (another similar thread)
- Stuart Sierra’s My Clojure Workflow, Reloaded (6/2013) – mainly about reloading changes into REPL, working around things that are not reloaded/left over => restart the app from scratch after significant changes => the app as a transient object => no global state, careful management of resources, :dev profile with :source-paths to a dir with user.clj (autoloaded by repl, pre-loading useful stuff) and dev util deps
- Adam Bard’s walk-through useful Clojure libs – f.ex. clojure.[data.[csv xml json] inspector java.shell java.browse xml], tools.logging, clojure.core.[match logic typed contracts ...]
- Juxt.pro: Jon Pither’s and Malcolm Sparks’ “network of experienced IT professionals who specialise in the Clojure programming language,” providing training, consulting, talks
- Anthony Grimes: The Clojure Community and Me (2011) – an exciting insight into the embracing and supportive Clojure community
- In Clojure-based Machine Learning: “Our backend is 99.4% coded in Clojure, and 66% of the team [of 3] had never programmed seriously in any Lisp, let alone Haskell or Prolog (heck, not even I (the remaining 33%) had actually tried anything non-mainstream for real in a big project!) Maybe some Ruby, and lots and lots of Java and C and C++. But they accepted the challenge after reading around and learning the basics, and 3 months later you couldn’t take Clojure from their prying hands.”
- J. Pither: TDD and Clojure – “If you were to create a shopping list of things you really want for your development experience then what would you put at the top?” => 1. rapid feedback on changes, 2. REPL (place to explore and to play with your code <=> TDD), 3. FP and Immutability (“FP and dynamic languages lead to a lot less code. There’s less ceremony, less modeling. Because you’re managing less code you do less large scale refactorings.” => TDD needed less), 4. Regression Tests (“It’s my current opinion that what you get left out of TDD once you have amazingly fast feedback and a REPL is regression testing.”)
- More beautiful and colorful git log, by Filipe Kiss (via @lcdutoit) You may also want to have a look at tig, which is a text-based UI for git with the default view similar to git log.
- jq (via lcdutoit) – sed/awk/grep for JSON – slice, filter, map, transform structured data
- SemanticMerge (Windows) – a Java-aware merge tool – free beta (I haven’t tried it)
- JetLang – a high performance java threading library for in-memory messaging, based upon Retlang (via @tastapod, used likely in a trading SW).
Agile [is] in NOT a process — it’s a philosophy.
- Joe Wroblewski in a comment to a blog post
Teach culture first, then process and techniques
- Jeff Patton in Agile development is more culture than process
If a candidate came telling me that s/he wanted to program only in, say, Java because that’s what s/he knows best and that s/he doesn’t really feel prepared or interested in learning and using, say, Clojure (or any other language, really), I wouldn’t hire her/him in a million years, no matter what language my project were using, and no matter how many thousands of candidates like this one I had at my disposal.
- José Antonio Ortega in Clojure-based Machine Learning
We shouldn’t be trying to convince people to do anything. We should be helping people solve their problems and achieve their goals. If they are satisfied with the outcomes they achieve using their current methods, then there is no problem to solve.
- Dave Nicolett in I know how to tie my shoes
Posted in General, Languages, Testing, Tools, Top links of month | Tagged: bigdata, clojure, DevOps, fp, frontend, Git, java, lean, performance, simulation, waste | Comments Off
Posted by Jakub Holý on June 28, 2013
John Hughes and Stuart Halloway had very interesting talks about random testing at NDC Oslo, a topic I have been ignorant of but want to explore more now. Contrary to the typical example-based unit tests where the developer specifies inputs, interactions, and specific validations, random testing generates random input data and/or sequences of interactions and the verification is based on more general checks. Random testing can check many more cases than a developer would ever write and cases that a human would never think of. It can thus discover defects impossible to find by the traditional testing, as has been demonstrated f.ex. on Riak.
Random testing typically starts by creating (likely a very simplified) model of the system under test. The model is then used to generate the random data inputs and/or sequences of actions (method calls). Then the tests are executed and their input and output data captured. Finally the results are validated, either against predefined “system properties,” i.e. invariants that should always hold true, or manually by the developer.
Related/also known as: generative testing, property-based testing (a paper).
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Testing | Tagged: clojure, random, simulation | Comments Off
Posted by Jakub Holý on May 21, 2013
Summary: Using a fake http library to test logic two levels above HTTP is unnecessarily complex and hard to understand. Fake instead the layer directly below the logic you want to test and verify the low-level HTTP interaction separately. In general: Create thin horizontal slices for unit testing, checking each slice separately with nicely focused and clear unit tests. Then create a coarse-grained vertical (integration-like) test to test across the slices.
The case: I want to test that the method login sends the right parameters and transforms the result as expected. Login invokes post-raw which calls an HTTP method. Originally I have tried to test it by using the library clj-http-fake but it proved to be unnecessarily complex. It would be much better to fake post-raw itself for testing login and test the original post-raw and its HTTP interaction separately, using that library.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Testing | Tagged: clojure, design, slicing | Comments Off
Posted by Jakub Holý on April 30, 2013
The top top article
How To Survive a Ground-Up Rewrite Without Losing Your Sanity (recommended by Kent Beck) – sometimes you need to actually rewrite an important part of a system; here we learn about two such rewrites, one which went well and one that failed badly – and what are the important differences.
The pain of a rewrite: “it’s [a major rewrite] going to take insanely longer than you expect” – because: “there’s this endless series of weird crap encoded in the data in surprising ways” and it takes days to convert them, “It’s brutally hard to reduce scope” (you cannot drop features, edge cases), “There turn out to be these other system that use ‘your’ data”.
To succeed you need: 1) Determine clear business-visible wins to justify the effort that will be much higher than expected and to know when to give up / what to postpone; 2) Do it extremely incrementally (<-> Succession) – break it into a series of small, safe steps, each generating a business value and learning of its own thus enabling early and frequent economical tradeoffs (stop, shift priorities, …) – ex.: rewrite a single reports, migrate its data, switch customers to it, go on to the next one – complete slice of functionality => a more realistic estimate soon => reprioritisation; incrementalism requires you to be able to write data both to the old and new system, which is hard but always pays off: “Here’s what I’m going to say: always insert that dual-write layer. Always. It’s a minor, generally somewhat fixed cost that buys you an incredible amount of insurance.” 3) “Abandoning the Project Should Always Be on the Table” (<- known biz value, better estimate based on early feedback).
Some Specific Tactics: Shrink Ray FTW (a graph of how much has been already replaced => motivation), Engineer The Living Hell Out Of Your Migration Scripts (tests, robustness, error handling, restartability), If Your Data Doesn’t Look Weird, You’re Not Looking Hard Enough.
Methodology, agile, lean
- M. Fowler: The New Methodology – a good description of the rise of Agile, the motivation for it, the various Agile methodologies (XP, Lean, Scrum etc.) and what is required to be able to apply an agile approach. Main points: Agile is adaptive (vs. predictive) and relies heavily on people and their judgement and skills (vs. treating them as same, replacable units) – which also leads to the need of leadership instead of (command&control) management. Discusses unpredictability of requirements and scope, foolishness of separating design and implementation, difficulty of measurement of SW development, continuous improvement etc. Quotes: “However letting go of predictability doesn’t mean you have to revert to uncontrollable chaos. Instead you need a process that can give you control over an unpredictability. That’s what adaptivity is all about.”
- The Toyota concept of ‘respect for people’ – many state that they respect their workers but fail to really understand what it means; it is not about freedom of act, it is about a mutual respect, leveraging the strengths of each other: worker’s experience and insight and manager’s broader overview, as demonstrated by the problem-solving dialog and challenges (problem – root cause – solution – measure of success, the manager challenging the worker’s answers). Also a nice example how the evaluation of individual performance leads to a much worse system and high turnover compared to a whole-oriented company.
- Fixed Bid Agile Without Cognitive Dissonance – a refreshing take on fixed-scope projects and Agile; yes, they are bad but sometimes the client has no other choice so what best we can make out of it? The core advice: Agree “a pragmatic change management protocol (along with a contingency built into the pricing)” (push for lower initial requirements granularity, customer involvement, flexibility of functionality) => “you can gain significant agile benefits for clients who wouldn’t otherwise accept them”.
- Agile Atlas: Scrum – a good description of Scrum and its values, roles, artifacts, and activities
Learning, psychology, estimates
- How Developers Stop Learning: Rise of the Expert Beginner – sometimes you meet people with experience-indicating titles that are actually little competent, perhaps leading incompetent IT departments. Why? They, unchallenged by competent peers or broader IT community, came to believe that they are “experts” while actually being only little more advanced beginners, better than their beginner colleagues but still lacking any understanding of the big picture and the knowledge of what they do not know, trapped in the “unconscious incompetence” stage. The post explains this in a more detail and is followed up an explanation how it can lead to the rise of a mediocre SW group in “How Software Groups Rot: Legacy of the Expert Beginner“.
- Coding, Fast and Slow: Developers and the Psychology of Overconfidence (via @peterskeide) – why are we so bad at estimating (inherent complexity of SW vs. our overconfidence) and why it cannot be fixed. We can learn to somehow estimate tasks of few hours length (less complex, plenty of practice opportunities). The question is: “how you can your dev team generate a ton of value, even though you can not make meaningful long-term estimates?”
- Cognitive Overhead, Or Why Your Product Isn’t As Simple As You Think (via @JiriJerabek) – to make apps more accessible to users, we try to make them simple – but “simple” might be different from what you expect. The important thing is not less steps, less features, less elements, but lower cognitive overhead, i.e. “how many logical connections or jumps your brain has to make in order to understand or contextualize the thing you’re looking at.” Good examples of unexpectadly high / pleasantly low cognitive overhead, some tips, even suprising ones such as make people do more (to be more involved in the process – e.g. bump their phones), slow down your product.
- Economies of Scala – a case for using Scala over Java, supported by data: many capable developers want to use it but there are few opportunities for them – and getting developers is one of the main challenges.
- A canonical Repository test – a nice standard way to test a “DAO”; highlights: use of FEST assert 2 for clean and nice checks, no unimportant details in the test (f.ex. details of the test data hidden in randomPerson() and randomOder(Person)).
- How To Think Like An Engineer – some nice ideas such as: “Build A Simple First Version: With People, Not Code” – “Technology is not always the best solution, because technology is not always the simplest solution.”, i.e. don’t automate everything from the start (examples from Netflix, Amazon); “Rather than trying to do everything at once, break down the functions of your company into smaller goals.” – and focus at one at a time
- Economies Of Scale As A Service (do not mix up with Scala! :-))- an interesting description of the trend away from ownership to the rental of important resources (servers, manufacturing capabilities, personal cars, …) and the resulting changes in the society, business, and industry
- Troy Hunt: Our password hashing has no clothes (or the much shorter though biased How To Safely Store A Password) – MD5 and SHA are not safe enough due to brute-force attack enabled by GPUs, irrespective key size; it’s crucial to use hashing algorithms designed for passwords (and thus sufficiently slow) – f.ex. bcrypt, or PBKDF2 or the newer scrypt.
- Everything about Java 8 – a well-made summary of what should come in Java 8, based on the current state, discussing the finer points: static and default (non-static, overridable) methods on interfaces, lambdas (do I need to mentione that?!) and method references (String::valueOf, Object::toString, myVar::toString, ArrayList::new); good discussion of the various use cases and limitations of lambdas (capturing x non-c., ..); java.util.stream for functional operations on value streams (filter, map, reduce etc.); java.time inspired by Joda, more concurrency utilities (e.g. CompletableFuture for chaining futures); String.join (finally!), Optional ~ Scala’s Option & more; yummy!
- How To Keep Your Best Programmers – what motivates capable programmers to stay/leave? The author lists some common reasons and concludes that, ultimately, all are linked to the desire for autonomy, mastery, or purpose. However he goes further and proposes that, to keep talented devs, you must offer them an appealing narrative (regarding their actions and a result, related to autonomy/mastery/purpose) and reaffirm/update it frequently; ex.: “With the work that we’re giving you over the next few months, you’re going to become the foremost NoSQL expert in our organization.” “At any point, both you and the developers on your team should know their narratives.” – so that they will be “constant points of job satisfaction and purpose.”
- Clojure Data Analysis Cookbook review – “The book provides a collection of recipes for accomplishing common tasks associated with analyzing different types of data sets. It starts out by showing how to read data from a variety of sources such as JSON, CSV, and JDBC. [..] how to sanitize the collected data and sample large data sets. [..] a number of different strategies for processing it.” How to present them with ClojureScript and NVD3 (D3.js components). “Some of the highlights include using the Clojure STM, parallel processing of the data, including useful tricks for partitioning, using reducers, and distributed processing with Hadoop and Casalog.”
once again, trying to do it *and* do it right was too much all at once, resulting in little progress and little learning.
- Kent Beck’s tweet 2013-04-16
A true agile development process can be recognized by its continual evolution:
A project that begins using an adaptive process won’t have the same process a year later. Over time, the team will find what works for them, and alter the process to fit.
- Martin Fowler in The New Methodology
Posted in General, SW development, Testing, Top links of month | Tagged: agile, bigdata, clojure, human, learning, scrum | Comments Off
Posted by Jakub Holý on April 1, 2013
The TechEmpower’s Web Framework Benchmark is quite interesting but the comments following it at HackerNews are even more so. That is at least the constructively critical ones that highlight many of the issues with benchmarks while also reminding us of their value. One could formulate the benchmark paradox:
Benchmarks are important for rational technological choices yet it is very hard if not impossible to perform them in a sensible way.
I would like to record here some of the important points, mainly as a future reference for myself for whenever I will be dealing with benchmarking.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in General, Testing | Tagged: benchmark, opinion, performance | Comments Off