HTTP Tools Roundup

At a conference a few days ago, I put up a slide with a few of my favourite tools on it. I got some brilliant additional recommendations in return from twitter so I thought I'd collect them all in one place in case anyone is interested - all these tools are excellent for anyone working APIs (so that's everyone!). First, my original slide:

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Deploying OpenWhisk Actions With Dependencies

I mostly use OpenWhisk with NodeJS (which is lucky for me, it's the best supported of the languages and default for the documentation examples!) and while there are a bunch of npm modules already installed on OpenWhisk, sometimes there will be others that you also want to include. Alternatively or additionally, you might also want to deploy your package.json since this can specify the entry point if it's not index.js which is the default.

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One OpenWhisk Action Calls Another

Working with openwhisk, it's easy to create many isolated actions and build them up into sequences; the output of one action is passed to the next action in the sequence. In my case, I wanted one action to spawn potentially many other actions. I had to look up how to do it and here it is so I can look it up more quickly next time! Continue reading

Exclude a Directory when Grepping

As a developer-of-another-discipline who is now transitioning into a bunch of NodeJS projects, I grep a LOT. However I am usually only interested in the code in the project at hand, and not the dependencies - of course grep has a switch for that! To grep your project and not the dependencies in the node-modules folder, try this:

grep -R --exclude-dir node_modules [what to search for] * 

If you're using a different tech stack you may want to exclude a different directory (for PHP, the directory would be called vendor), but this is a very handy tip and a bit nicer than the older approach I was using which did the whole search and then used a second grep to eliminate things by using the -v switch.

Using OS X From The Keyboard

I have a new job (Developer Advocate with IBM Cloud Data Services) and subsequently a new work laptop. It's a mac and after almost 10 years as a linux-only user, that's rather a shock! Due to some nasty RSI issues, I don't use a mouse or any other pointing device*, so as well as learning a whole new operating system I also needed to learn its accessibility tools. I'm still at the swearing stage but mostly past the tears so I thought I would share what I've found - using a computer from the keyboard is fast and productive for everyone as well as less painful for me, so you may find some tools in here that you want to try yourself.

I collected all my tools, my own notes and scribbled cheatsheets and put them into this gist so that I could refer to them later; I also intend to keep updating this as a reference. Continue reading

Handling Composer "lock file out of date" Warning

Composer is dependency management for PHP, and it consists of two main files:

  • composer.json where you specify your dependencies
  • composer.lock where composer itself records exactly which precise version of every library and every dependency of every library it picked, so all installs will be identical

Crucially, the composer.lock also includes a hash of the current composer.json when it updates, so you can always tell if you've added a requirement to the composer.json file and forgotten to install it. Continue reading

Git Won't Check Out A Path It Autocompleted

One of my git repositories has developed a tendency to refuse to checkout a feature branch locally that exists on the remote repo. My git bash completion works, but then strange things happen! It turned out to be that I had two remotes with the same refspec, so I thought I'd write down the behaviour I saw and hopefully help someone else to fix this problem faster if they see it. Continue reading

Git Pull Causes a Merge

If you type git pull and expect a fast-forward update, but get a merge instead, don't panic! This usually happens when we're collaborating on a branch with other people, and we've made changes on our local version of a branch, and someone else (or the other you, if you use git to sync between multiple dev platforms) has made changes to the remote version of a branch in the meantime. It also happens really frequently in teams where all commits are to the master branch ... yet another reason to have a decent branching strategy.

All that's happened is something like this:

$ git log --oneline --all --graph --decorate
* 054f163 (HEAD, branch1) Installation instructions for the application
| * 0ce808c (origin/branch1) Fixing template layout
|/  
* 927aad9 A random change of 731 to ideas2.txt

Since the last common commit, there are commits on your local branch, and the remote one. You could just let the merge go ahead but there are other options. You could also check out a new branch at this point, reset your tracking branch to the right place and then reapply your changes using cherry-pick or by rebasing and then fast-forward merging your branch. Continue reading

Debugging rst2pdf and pygments

I create my slide decks from ReStructuredText, which is a text markup format. Working this way makes it easy to add into source control, fast to work with, and also accessible since I don't use a mouse or other pointing device so traditional slide deck creation programs are kind of difficult. Text-based wins every time for me. While working on a new slide template, I ran into some difficulties and had to figure out how to inspect what was going on. I seem to struggle with this every time so I am writing my troubleshooting guide here for when I need it next. Continue reading

Code Reviews: Before You Even Run The Code

I do a lot of code reviewing, both in my day job as principal developer and also as an open source maintainer. Sometimes it seems like I read more code than I write! Is that a problem? I'm tempted to say that it isn't. To be a good writer, you must be well-read; I believe that to be a good developer, you need to be code-omnivorous and read as much of other people's code as possible. Code reviews are like little chapters of someone else's code to dip into.

Over time I've developed some particular processes that I find helpful when reviewing code. In particular, I often surprise people at how much review I do before I run the code. Sometimes I grab the branch so that I can use my local diff tools, but I don't actually execute code until I've established some basic facts. This post is a little insight into what's happening in this not-running-the-code-yet zone. Continue reading