Who are you writing that commit message for?

I read a lot of commit messages that make me wonder who the committer had in mind when they wrote it. If you don't read commit messages yourself, I think that can make it even more difficult to think about who the audience is, or when someone would be reading those entries. Perhaps you're writing for nobody, or work in a team that doesn't value the metadata that a single sentence written in the moment can deliver.

Next time you write a commit message, try some of these suggestions as your imaginary audience:

  • Yourself, next week, when you finally get back to working on this thing and can't remember where you were up to
  • Yourself, when you get a pull request review and can't remember which commit something is in that needs to be removed
  • Yourself, debugging how this ended up like this, 6 months from now
  • Your colleague, eyeballing your work to see how you are getting on

Personally, I think of it as a note to myself. Like an alibi, if someone asks you what's already been done, or what this commit that removes one specific line from a long config file. Yes, I worked as a git consultant for a while, the delete-a-single-line with the commit message "Fixed" is always the culprit!

Further reading: https://cbea.ms/git-commit/

Weekly Planning with Obsidian

Keeping on top of tasks at work has been a work in progress throughout my career. However now I'm doing a more managerial role, I also need to keep track of all the meetings and preparation/followup work in my meetings. I find my daily log fills so many pages of notebook that I moved my weekly plan to a separate section - and then to my preferred digital notes tool, Obsidian. If you're interested in my setup, read on. Continue reading

VSCode setup for technical writers

I'm working almost entirely with docs-as-code setups for prose at work these days and while I do use vim for most of what I do, VSCode is increasingly in the mix. It's just about accessible enough with keyboard shortcuts and the command palette for me, and I thought I'd share the extensions I'm using and find helpful. Continue reading

Sphinx front matter and template variables

I'm building a docs-as-code site at work at the moment (you can peek if you like https://developer.aiven.io) and working with ReStructuredText in this setup is new to me. One thing I really missed was the concept of front matter, which I'm not sure is even official or documented but seems to be reasonably widely supported (I promise to save the rant about markdown for another day). It took me a while to figure this out for Sphinx/rst but now I'm looking at it working, I had better write it down before I forget! Continue reading

Use Database Connection Strings with Laravel 8

I've been doing a lot of database stuff lately, and not much PHP, so when I returned to make my first Laravel project for a while, I had to check the docs to remind myself how some of this works. I noticed that the default approach to database credentials is still to use separate credentials for the host, port, and other variables. I'm using Aiven databases (because I work there and managed databases are great for demo apps as well as real ones!) which supply connection strings, but Laravel supports these too. Continue reading

Best Things About Developer Advocacy

There are some excellent articles around about what a Developer Advocate does, but have you ever wondered WHY we do what we do? I tried to articulate this when chatting with another developer lately, and I'm still thinking about it! So I thought I'd write it down to share a little more widely why I love this strange, misshapen career as much as I do. Continue reading

Measuring Repo Community Health with GitHub's API

I'm on record saying that GitHub is your Landing Page and when I think about companies having open source profiles, I think about how many developers will have the first contact with them on GitHub. If it's a code example you're looking for then like it or not, GitHub is considered a search engine by many developers.

With that in mind, I wanted to look at GitHub's Community Health measure of the repositories I'm responsible for. You can view each repo's community page separately through the web interface (look under "Insights") but that's not especially scalable if you have a lot of projects to track.

screeshot of the project's /community page, showing low completion Continue reading