Test Quality

Philosophy of unit testing and why its important.

Who owns software quality?

Surprisingly when asked this question most people will answer “our QA team”. If that is how you feel about software quality it is very hard to then be AGILE and delivery software that adds business value and is of high quality. At this stage you are probably think that is harsh but step back a minute quality is own by everyone in the business if one fails the whole chain will break. As a development team we should work towards delivering high code quality so lets have a look at some best practices about testing…

Lets Go!

Pair Programming

This will explain the fundamentals of Pair Programming and the why and how.

What is Pair Programming?

Pair programming is an agile development technique in which two programmers work together at one workstation. One, the driver, writes code while the other, the observer or navigator, reviews each line of code as it is typed in. The two programmers switch roles frequently.

While reviewing, the observer also considers the “strategic” direction of the work, coming up with ideas for improvements and likely future problems to address. This frees the driver to focus all of their attention on the “tactical” aspects of completing the current task, using the observer as a safety net and guide.

Lets Go!

Docker Fundamentals

This tutorial will explain the fundamentals of Docker and start you with some basic usage.

What is Docker?

Docker is open source software to pack, ship and run any application as a lightweight container. Containers are completely hardware and platform independent so you don’t have to worry about whether what you are creating will run everywhere.

In the past virtual machines have been used to accomplish many if these same goals. However, Docker containers are smaller and have far less overhead than VMs. VMs are not portable as different VM runtime environments are very different. Docker containers are extremely portable. Finally, VMs were not built with software developers in mind; they contain no concept of versioning, and logging/monitoring is very difficult. Docker images, on the other hand, are built from layers that can be version controlled. Docker has logging functionality readily available for use.

You might be wondering what could go into a “container”. Well, anything! You can isolate pieces of your system into separate containers. You could potentially have a container for nginx, a container for MongoDB, and one for Redis. Containers are very easy to setup. Major projects like nginx, MongoDB, and Redis all offer free Docker images for you to use; you can install and run any of these containers with just one shell command. This is much easier than using a virtual machine (even with something like Vagrant).

Lets Go!

Quick enzyme JS TDD

With the current wave of change in front-end web development, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of options when it comes to choosing a stack to develop with. The same goes for setting up a test environment depending on which frameworks you’re using, you might be inclined to use different libraries and test runners to better suit the application workflow and logic.

So, we’ll go through all the necessary steps to implement a simple way to get you started with writing tests for React components, using ES2015 syntax and the well documented Airbnb’s testing utility, enzyme. While we’re at it, we’ll set up a constant test runner for TDD

Lets GO!

Naming Things is Hard: Spotlight Edition

Like most specialist industries, software is rife with mainstream English words that we’ve taken and misappropriated to mean something completely different. Show business is no different. The software team here at Spotlight sits smack-bang in the intersection between these two specialist fields, and so when we’re talking to our customers and product owners about the systems we build, it’s very important to understand the difference between typecasting and type casting, and exactly what sort of actor model we’re talking about. We therefore present this delightful “double glossary” of everyday terms that you’ll hear here at Spotlight Towers. Because as we all know, there’s only two hard problems in software: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors.

Actor

Software: A mathematical model of concurrent computation that treats “actors” as the universal primitives of concurrent computation.

Showbiz: A person whose profession is acting on the stage, in films, or on television.

Agent

Software: A software agent is a computer program that acts for a user or other program in a relationship of agency

Showbiz: A person who finds jobs for actors, authors, film directors, musicians, models, professional athletes, writers, screenwriters, broadcast journalists, and other people in various entertainment or broadcast businesses.

Callback

Software: Any executable code that is passed as an argument to other code, which is expected to call back (execute) the argument at a given time.

Showbiz: A follow-up interview or audition

Casting

Software: Explicitly converting a variable from one type to another

Showbiz: Employing actors to play parts in a film, play or other production. Also the act of doing same.

Client

Software: The opposite of a server

Showbiz: An actor, specifically in the context of the actor’s relationship with their agent or manager Internally at Spotlight we have both internal and external clients/customers

Client Profile

Software: A subset of the .NET framework intended to run on mobile and low-powered devices

Showbiz: An actor’s professional CV, as it appears on their agent’s’ website or in various kinds of casting software and directories

Double

Software: Primitive data type representing a floating-point number

Showbiz: A performer who appears in place of another performer, i.e., as in a stunt.

Mirror

Software: A copy of a system that updates from the original in near to real time, often a database or file storage system

Showbiz: An optical device that helps a performer check they’ve applied their makeup correctly

Principal

Software: Used in database mirroring to refer to the primary instance of the database

Showbiz: A performer with lines.

Production

Software: The live infrastructure and code environment

Showbiz: A film, TV or stage show, such as a professional actor might list on their acting CV.

REST

Software: Representational State Transfer – an architectural style used when building hypermedia APIs

Showbiz: What actors do between jobs.

Script

Software: A computer program written in a scripting language

Showbiz: The written dialogue and directions for a play, film or show

“Sequel”

Software: Standard pronunciation of SQL, referring to either the database query language. Also commonly refers to Microsoft’s SQL Server database product.

Showbiz: A published, broadcast, or recorded work that continues the story or develops the theme of an earlier one.

Server

Software: The opposite of a client

Showbiz: Someone working as waiting staff in a restaurant. Who is quite possibly an actor moonlighting as a server to pay the bills between acting jobs.

Spotlight

Software: The native MacOS search application

Showbiz: Our company – www.spotlight.com,  “The Home of Casting” – and the directories and services we have created since 1927. Not to be confused with the 20-odd different ‘Spotlight’ companies around the world, many of whose customers blindly email support@spotlight.com whenever they have a problem. 🙂

Staging

Software: A replica of a production hosting environment used to test new features and deployments.

Showbiz: The method of presenting a play or dramatic performance; also used to refer to the stage structure itself in theatre and live performance.

Spotlight at Monki Gras 2017

Monki Gras is RedMonk’s annual UK conference about Software, Craft and Experience. I was very happy that my application for their Diversity Scholarships Programme got accepted and I gladly attended the event on the 26th and 27th of January.

Besides providing a full 2-day ticket they also had in place a Mentorship Programme for the scholars. Tracy Miranda – open source evangelist and veteran of the Eclipse community, Bryan Boreham – director of engineering at Weakework and Rachel Stephens – associate analyst at RedMonk made sure the scholars felt welcome, answered questions and facilitated networking.

monkigras

While some industry events have a very corporate feel about them these days, Monki Gras was like a breath of fresh air: less pitching and more content!

The subject of 2017 was “Packaging: convenience is the killer app for great developer and user experiences” and among the speakers were Arianna Aondio from Varnish Software Group, Gordon Haff from Red Hat, Alvaro Videla who works as a distributed systems engineer and was previously a Core Developer for RabbitMq and Abby Kearns from Cloud Foundry Foundation.

panel

My favourite talk was “Metaphors we compute by” by Alvaro Videla, who made a very interesting connection between the Linguistics and Philosophic worlds and the Software Industry. Communication is key even when you only ‘speak’ code!

The conference was held in quite an informal venue, The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club in Shoreditch and the techies were kept focused with artisan coffee, tasty food and locally brewed beer.

Looking forward to their event next year!