Showing posts from June, 2012

Importance of testing

I just finished the excellent Coursera/Berkeley Software as a Service (SaaS) class yesterday. There were two major themes in the class: engaging customers in creating user stories to make sure that you build the right thing, and use BDD and TDD that relies on continuous testing. In particular I enjoyed learning how to use Cucumber that has two parts: an english (or other natural language) style DSL that customers and developers can work on together to create user stories with expectations of what the system should do and an underlying set of steps that map the customer facing DSL descriptions to real testing code. Cucumber is very popular in the Rails world but I had never tried it before. I now like using Cucumber and as I get more used to it for Ruby and also for Rails I look forward to integrating it into my development process for other programming languages. A few nights ago I spent some time with the lein-cucumber project for Clojure. It is still a little rough around the edg

More on PaaS: new dotCloud pricing and services

I have had a dotCloud account for a while, but so far only to experiment with. dotCloud has announced new pricing models that look very developer friendly with free lower performance sandbox support and "live" support for production. They may have hit the sweet spot for supporting free development while nudging developers to not deploy small demo apps using their free sandbox model. I would love to see Heroku's and dotCloud's customer stats on free versus paid hosted web apps. The basic idea is that as you add services you may by the amount of memory that those services use. I like their handling of horizontal and vertical scaling . I have not tried it yet, but from the documentation it looks like when you horizontally scale a persistent service like PostgreSQL, MongoDB, MySQL, etc. they automatically set up master/slave, replica sets, etc. as appropriate. You can also vertically scale any service by adding memory. Another interesting PaaS that I have experimente

A better tool for private social and working networks? Using Open Source Apache Wave (used to be Google Wave)

OK, maybe now we should just call is Wave . As I talked about a few years ago in my blog, I really enjoyed using Wave for interacting with family and friends, and also experimenting writing Wave Robots hosted on AppEngine. Those good times have ended :-( Fortunately, the Apache Wave incubator project provides the code and directions for running Wave on your own servers. If you are lucky, installing Wave is as simple as: git clone git:// wave cd wave ant compile-gwt dist-server ant -f server-config.xml ./ The default data store is the file system but you can use MongoDB instead. After you have started the server, you can use two different web browsers (e.g., Firefox and Chrome) to create two different accounts using the Register a new account link on the right side of the welcome page. After logging in under two accounts with two web browsers then create a new note under one of your Wave accounts and invite the other user account to that note.

Redhat OpenShift is another interesting PaaS

My friend Alex Ott left a comment on my blog yesterday asking me if I had looked at OpenShift. I had created an account a while ago but never did anything with it. This morning I briefly tried getting Clojure (not yet supported) running but promptly gave up and switched to Ruby, which along with Java, Python, Node.js, and Perl is supported. It only seemed fair to test Redhat's PaaS with a supported stack. By default Ruby 1.8.7 is supported with a lot of gems pre-installed. I preferred to use RVM and Ruby 1.9.3 so I: I created a new empty "Do-it-yourself" Cartridge using the web console. I was prompted to add a public key, etc. Easy setup. A new empty cartridge runs a trivial Ruby web app. I followed Mark's instructions to install RVM and Ruby 1.9.3. After that, a git commit and a git push redeploys your app. You should take a careful look at .openshift/action_hooks/* that are places where you can customize builds and deployments. Using Mark's instructions, I

Deciding between two premium hosting options for a new side project

Over the course of a year I spend about 2/3 of my working time consulting for customers and the other 1/3 doing my own projects. I view doing personal projects as a form of continuing education. My last major personal project was my natural language processing (NLP) web service and at the same time I spent a day writing for my wife. The project before those projects was an experiment in a live note taking and scheduling system for consultants which I still use but I have turned off the ability for people to create accounts. I never implemented the sister project . Six years ago my side project was which I do still use. For me side projects are a great way to try out new ideas and it is well worth it to me to pass on less interesting consulting gigs to free up enough time for my own stuff. I am in general interested in the combination of knowledge management and NLP and my new side project combines t

I am a living advertisement for JetBrains products :-)

Full disclosure: for years JetBrains comped me with free products, but for a few years now I have been buying my own licenses. I have been working since 5am this morning on three customer projects in three languages: Python - using PyCharm Ruby - using RubyMine Java - using IntelliJ Switching languages and supporting platforms and frameworks sometimes causes a little cognitive dissonance, taking a few minutes to get my head into a different toolset. With the same (almost) user interface, similar code completion, etc., switching between three languages and projects today was easy with no stress. I will also thank other companies that make it easier for me to do my work: Amazon AWS - Amazon is my favorite technology company. AWS has changed my working life. Since I live in a remote mountain area, I also appreciate getting stuff from Amazon. The Kindle platform with synched reading accross all of my devices is also great. Apple - my MacBook Air and iPad are great devices that I don&