Thursday, April 17, 2014

This Week I Learnt - 2

Ok. I am posting this after two weeks of the first one. But had a lot of work and couldn't find time for this.
So without much further ado, here are the learnings of the past two weeks.

1. Create a project with Gradle
I attended a training called - 'Agile Development With Scrum' and the trainer said if we are really following scrum, we should be doing atleast three things.
1. Daily Scrum Meeting
2. Test Driven Development
3. Continuous Integration.
Though we have heard things so many times, sometimes hearing it just one more time clicks (Tipping Point) and we are pushed into action. So I wanted to do
Test Driven Development. For that, a good build process becomes essential. So I surveyed the build tools available in the market. There are Apache Ant, Maven, Gradle,
Buildr and SBT (Scala). And the Spring team, for whom I have a lot of respect and who eased the development in Java, have started using Gradle. It added a lot of
momentum to Gradle. The syntax of Gradle is a seperate DSL (domain specific Language) written in Groovy and it is very concise compared to Maven. I decided to give it
a try and set it up for a web project. The dependency management is very easy and it can use both Maven and Ivy libraries.

Advantages: Very less work compared to Ant. Adding "apply plugin 'java'" to the build file will magically add all java related tasks like compile,build,jar,test etc to the build file
Very concise compared to maven. No big XML files.

Disadvantages: Not many plugins available. I used the jettyRun command which has options for automatic deployment by scanning the project for changes, but it is not working well.
It seems the tomcat plugin overcomes this problems. But I have to say I am a convert to Gradle. It makes dependency management lot lot easier and a first step to TDD.
Definitely going to use Gradle for the coming projects.

2. One-On-One Manager tools:
I don't remember how I came across this, but I learnt that using weekly scheduled one on one's with all the direct reports is one of the best ways to work together
and better with the team. The important things to remember are that it is an employees meeting rather than managers meeting. So employee should set the agenda.
The key to a good one-on-one meeting is the understanding that it is the employee’s meeting rather than the manager’s meeting. This is the free-form meeting for all the pressing issues, brilliant ideas and chronic frustrations that do not fit neatly into status reports, email and other less personal and intimate mechanisms.

If you like structured agendas, then the employee should set the agenda… During the meeting, since it’s the employee’s meeting, the manager should do 10% of the talking and 90% of the listening… While it’s not the manager’s job to set the agenda or do the talking, the manager should try to draw the key issues out of the employee. The more introverted the employee, the more important this becomes.

Some questions that I’ve found to be very effective in one-on-ones:
If we could improve in any way, how would we do it?
What’s the No. 1 problem with our organization?
Why? What’s not fun about working here?
 Who is really kicking ass in the company?
 Who do you admire?
 If you were me, what changes would you make?
 What don’t you like about the product?
 What’s the biggest opportunity that we’re missing out on?
 What are we not doing that we should be doing?
 Are you happy working here?

3. PostGIS Installation on Amazon Ec2
I tried to install PostGIS on Amazon Linux AMI Ec2 instance but couldn't do it. All the forums seems to say that it is better to use Redhat or Ubuntu instance.

4. Trying to get a video to play using JAVA.
Currently I am just writing out the response using a servlet, but this way there is no way to seek through the file. It seems we need to allow for range queries for it to work. There is solution here by Java Guru Balusc Simply wondering why there is no framework level solution for this.  [OSS]

Monday, March 24, 2014

This Week I Learned - Week 1

I read a lot of stuff daily and sometimes I don't remember what I read after some time. So in order to remember them and review them, I would like to note them down in my blog and share them.

These might be useful to others too.

1: Older Developer Problem: I read about a developer who is out of work as he is older and the same work can be done by other younger developers at fraction of the cost and the technologies he has learned have become old. In India, most of the developers grow into the managerial responsibilities after some time, it does makes sense to keep in mind the things we can do to avoid the older developer problem if we wish to continue in the developer path. There is an excellent answer in Quora about always being fresh.

2: Comparison of Javascript Frameworks: There are lot of javascript frameworks coming up for creating single page/multipage javascript applications. While planning to build an application, I came across this comparison of Angular JS, Backbone JS and Ember JS. There are important differences between each of the apps. Angular JS is very adaptable and guides developers to write testable code often. Backbone JS doesn't do a lot of handholding and is used to write single page apps. Ember JS is the biggest library but it does provide lot of support for common use cases like back button support which are anyway required in an application.

3: MicroServices Architecture: Martin Fowler talks about new kind of application architecture called Microservice architecture. Spring Framework is also going forward in this direction.

The term "Microservice Architecture" has sprung up over the last few years to describe a particular way of designing software applications as suites of independently deployable services. While there is no precise definition of this architectural style, there are certain common characteristics around organization around business capability, automated deployment, intelligence in the endpoints, and decentralized control of languages and data.
 Here I do see the advantages of this kind of architecture. It is easy to use different technologies for different parts of the application and it would be possible to make changes quickly as everything is decoupled. I am not sure how we can decouple data. Till date, in all the applications I have created, one database contains lot of data related to users and it spans multiple functionalities. How can we split that data without duplicating the user information at each place ?

4: Spring Boot and other projects: Spring 4 release brought a new framework called Spring Boot which is used to quickly start a spring project. It helps to quickly get up and running with applications ala Rails. I have tried that and it works well to start up a web application. But it is too early to see how easy it is to configure or change the defaults included in the template project. It uses Groovy internally to decorate the classes so that developers need not write boilerplate code.

5: Devops with Chef & Vagrant: To get over the problem of long time for development machine setup, there is a solution called Vagrant. This tool can be used to automate the setup of a development machine. You can specify the configuration of the machine, the software needed to be installed, etc and Vagrant will setup the machine and get it available as a VM with a single command. Vagrant Up. I think this kind of single command setup will help a lot if  a lot of AWS instances are required to be created. It will be easily to replicate the setup with one command. I am looking into this and still have to setup.

6: AWS Reference Architectures: Initially when I wanted to deploy an application to cloud, this reference architectures would have helped a lot.

7: The Importance of Finishing : A parable about a guy jumping on to new things without completing the old ones.

8: The End of Average: (Atleast in the Winner Takes All Market) : In media and things that require our attention, it is going to be the end of average as the reach of the best is practically everyone. So everyone will only refer to the best, so the average ones will not be needed.  .

Note: I want to introduce a tool to manage and organize everything. I use a free tool called trello for that. Trello is the fastest, easiest way to organize anything, from your day-to-day work, to a favorite side project, to your greatest life plans. You can give it a try here and I'm sure you will like it too.