Skip to main content

Developer Diaries

A few weeks back I stumbled across a tweet which I unfortunately cannot find to give credit to. It talked about the benefit of keeping a developer diary.

At the same time I was reading Getting Things Done (GTD). I felt inspired to take note of everything related to development that I do during my day to day time. This would satisfy the criteria I had for my GTD system, along with trying to emulate the success the original tweet was referring to.

I don't have a fancy system. Rather I have a text file that is distributed between the numerous desktops and laptops I have access to. Here the file is synced, so I should always be up to date. Dropbox handles this for me.

Each day I simply make a note of anything I think "I must remember that" or anything that happens to be useful, interesting or new. There is no complex system to this in order to keep in aligned with GTD, new points are simply appended at the bottom of the file. At the end of each week I simply group up related notes. For example, if I've got a few bullet points about databases, I move these to fit under a "Database" heading. This system works for now, though I might have to re-asses this in the future. An example of the file is below.

Example

The most surprising thing about this, is that even on a dull day I absorb a lot of "stuff" related to development. Equally surprising is how awful my memory is regarding it. If I skim across the document now, I'm alarmed at the stuff that I would have forgotten had I not taken a note. It's quite possible that I would remember some of this information in the long term, but regular skim readings of the diary is proving very helpful.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Constant Object Anti Pattern

Most constants are used to remove magic numbers or variables that lack context. A classic example would be code littered with the number 7. What does this refer to exactly? If this was replaced with DaysInWeek or similar, much clarity is provided. You can determine that code performing offsets would be adding days, rather than a mysterious number seven.Sadly a common pattern which uses constants is the use of a single constant file or object. The beauty of constants is clarity, and the obvious fact such variables are fixed. When a constant container is used, constants are simply lumped together. These can grow in size and often become a dumping ground for all values within the application.A disadvantage of this pattern is the actual value is hidden. While a friendly variable name is great, there will come a time where you will want to know the actual value. This forces you to navigate, if only to peek at the value within the constant object. A solution is to simple perform a refactor …

Three Steps to Code Quality via TDD

Common complaints and problems that I've both encountered and hear other developers raise when it comes to the practice of Test Driven Development are: Impossible to refactor without all the tests breakingMinor changes require hours of changes to test codeTest setup is huge, slow to write and difficult to understandThe use of test doubles (mocks, stubs and fakes is confusing)Over the next three posts I will demonstrate three easy steps that can resolve the problems above. In turn this will allow developers to gain one of the benefits that TDD promises - the ability to refactor your code mercifully in order to improve code quality.StepsStop Making Everything PublicLimit the Amount of Dependencies you Use A Unit is Not Always a Method or ClassCode quality is a tricky subject and highly subjective, however if you follow the three guidelines above you should have the ability to radically change implementation details and therefore improve code quality when needed.

DRY vs DAMP in Tests

In the previous post I mentioned that duplication in tests is not always bad. Sometimes duplication becomes a problem. Tests can become large or virtually identically excluding a few lines. Changes to these tests can take a while and increase the maintenance overhead. At this point, DRY violations need to be resolved.SolutionsTest HelpersA common solution is to extract common functionality into setup methods or other helper utilities. While this will remove and reduce duplication this can make tests a bit harder to read as the test is now split amongst unrelated components. There is a limit to how useful such extractions can help as each test may need to do something slightly differently.DAMP - Descriptive and Meaningful PhrasesDescriptive and Meaningful Phrases is the alter ego of DRY. DAMP tests often use the builder pattern to construct the System Under Test. This allows calls to be chained in a fluent API style, similar to the Page Object Pattern. Internally the implementation wil…