Development, Self-Improvement

Reclaiming Refactoring

We need to talk about refactoring. Or rather, about the frequent misuse of the word, the dangers this encompasses and what we can do about it. Time to reclaim what is an intrinsic part of software development!

As with many words in the English language, people use the word refactoring for different concepts. It’s a human thing to do, but it keeps surprising me how open for interpretation most terms are in a “scientific” field like computer science. Just try to Google an exact definition for the concept of a unit test: you’ll find about as many interpretations as there are people writing about it.

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Development, Functional programming

Exploring data and API’s with F# type providers

This post highlights an F# feature called type providers that makes my life as a software developer easier. Ever had to parse some JSON? Explore a shiny new REST API? Maybe you’ve had to quickly try out an undocumented SOAP service?

Imagine you could talk to any kind of service or interact with any kind of data in your regular IDE, using the full capabilities of a static type system with minimal fuss. No need to generate proxy client code from .wsdl files, no need to reference any Nuget package. With some help from F#’s type providers, It just works™!

Introduction

I’ve been looking to introduce F# in my daily workflow. As a consultant, I often don’t get to pick the programming language I work in. As a result, my experiences with F# are limited to side-projects or throwaway code that doesn’t get committed to version control. One area where F# and its ecosystem are really practical and even outperform alternatives is in exploring data and services, both in the broad sense of the term. Say you have to integrate with a third party REST API that provides little-to-no documentation. F# provides a magical feature called type providers that allows you to explore this API with static types, minimal fuss, and all the features you’ve come to rely on of your trusty IDE. It’s the perfect way to get started with functional programming in a .NET environment.

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Self-Learning

Global day of coderetreat 2012

While everyone was sleeping out last saturday, groups of software developers worldwide assembled to participate in this cool event called global day of coderetreat. The concept of a coderetreat is simple: whereas the only way for other professions like musicians to get better is to train their skills by regular practice -just for the sake of practice-, software developers never seem to really “train” their skills. They get dropped in one deadline-prone project after another, but never really take the time to perfect their skills (or as Corey Haines likes to call this, get industry best practices under their fingers). Software developers can train their skills individually by performing code katas, or they can do so in group by attending a coderetreat.

Just as musicians get better by practicing scales and jamming with other people, developers can improve their skills by performing code katas and attending coderetreats.

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