Death, Taxes, and Database Migrations

migration

In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes, and migrations. Earlier in my career, I would come to a new project and inevitably a hectic migration would be underway. It’s not always a “stop the world” change, it can be as simple as switching from NPM to Yarn, but something is …

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Keep Your Data Raw at Rest

raw

Data at rest is more dangerous than data in motion. I want to talk about a simple rule of thumb that has served me well over the years: “If you have data that depends on other data, try not to store it.” If you follow this rule, you can deliver your code faster, mainly because …

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What are UUIDs, and should you use them?

unique

A universally unique identifier (UUID) is a 128-bit format for creating IDs in code that has become popular in recent years, especially in relation to database keys. By using UUIDs, you ensure that your ID is not just unique in the context of a single database table or web application, but is truly unique in …

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Beautiful Language and Beautiful Code

language

“Dead Poet’s Society” is a classic film, and has become a recent favorite of mine. There’s a scene in particular that I enjoy, where Robin William’s character explains that it’s bad practice to use terms like “very tired” or “very sad”, instead we should use descriptive words like “exhausted” or “morose”! I wholeheartedly agree with …

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Check for Standards Before Creating a New One

flags

I recently had a ticket opened on my team’s backlog board requesting the ability to bypass our API’s caching system. For context, our front-end team uses my team’s API to make fairly heavy requests to ElasticSearch, and one of the features of our API gateway is to cache the results of heavy aggregations for ~30 …

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Continuous Deployments != Continuous Disruptions

stream running down hill continuous

Luckily, I’ve met very few engineers in my career who are outright opposed to continuous deployment. That said, I have met some, and I think their hesitation is usually rooted in the myth that continuous causes more disruptions to end-users than a batched release cycle. What is continuous deployment? Before we get into the nitty-gritty …

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Backend Developers are UX Designers Too

design notebook

Too often I neglect the idea of UX design in backend work. The goal of user experience design is to give users a product that’s easy to use. In the world of front-end development, that typically means making it obvious how to navigate your site, using commonly-understood icons, or implementing well-contrasted colors for foreground and …

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Naming Variables the Right Way

yelling at computer

I’ve noticed that more and more often that bugs introduced into an existing codebase are due to the poor naming of variables way more often than I think you would expect. Someone uses a rateLimit variable expecting it to be denominated in seconds but instead, it’s in minutes, resulting in a wildly different polling schedule. …

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Top 8 Benefits of Functional Programming

calculus on a chalkboard

Functional programming is a way to writing code where programs are created strictly through functions. Functional programming has gained quite a bit of traction in recent years among the development community, mostly because of the benefits it provides. Functional programming is a declarative way to write provably correct code. Function definitions are expressions that simply map inputs to outputs, rather than a …

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The Pros and Cons of DRY Code

desert landscape

Clean code is like clean garbage – it’s only clean if it doesn’t exist. In other words, the only clean code is no code. Let’s start with an acknowledgment that a perfectly clean (empty) codebase is useless, that is, without code, we can’t provide value to our users. With that in mind, our pursuit of …

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