Software Development

CSS Grid Changes Everything

(August 9, 2017)

Getting web content to layout as you want usually results in messy HTML and messy CSS. Limitations of both usually means you're nesting DIV's to get a structure where you can use various arcane CSS paradigms like absolute or relative positioning. CSS Grids changes all that. You can use simple HTML markup accompanied by straight-forward CSS rules to lay it out. It's a breath of fresh air. It's supported in ALL the modern web browsers.

Why not flexbox? Isn't that the thing that's supposed to be our page layout savior? The problem with flexbox is it runs in only one direction. For more complex layouts you need to nest flex containers. CSS Grid is a two-dimensional layout system and can handle more complex layouts.

Traditional CSS methodology, as well as flexbox, works from the content outward. CSS Grid works from the layout inward.

Throwing away local changes in Git workspace, allowing 'git pull' to proceed

(August 8, 2017)

Git is a powerful source code revision control system, letting teams large and small track changes between team members. It is widely used and very flexible. However, it's easy to get into an inscrutable state where it's not clear how to proceed.

Just now I found myself wishing to update my local repository with changes from co-workers. The repository contains UML models designed with Enterprise Architect, hence the primary thing in the repository is a large binary file. I'd been running Enterprise Architect on my local file, and there must have been some changes made to that file. As such Git told me there were local changes which I must merge before I could fetch the upstream changes. (specifically: Your local changes to the following files would be overwritten by merge) But I knew any change that had been made was unimportant, unneeded, and should be tossed away. Leaving me wondering how to throw away changes to a local Git repository.

Create a Spring Boot REST API using Swagger/OpenAPI "Generate Swagger OpenAPI REST API documentation for Spring Boot application"

(July 31, 2017)

The Swagger tools, and the OpenAPI format, are an excellent way to document REST API's and even to generate client or server stub libraries to ease implementation. The technology serves two purposes -- a) standardized documentation for REST API's, b) generating code from API documentation in several programming languages. An OpenAPI file is fairly simple to write, you declare REST endpoints, describe the parameters and the request type, and then describe responses. It allows you to define complex object models that can be used either as input to a service, or its output.

Unfortunately the Swagger website doesn't have adequate documentation of using the tools. And it proved difficult to find clear straight-forward tutorials showing how to get started. Even the most powerful tool can be hampered if folks are unable to use it.

The following tutorial is a complete demonstration of, starting from scratch, developing a small Spring Boot service using OpenAPI and the Swagger tools. We show how to go from an OpenAPI spec to generated Spring Boot code, and also how to generate an OpenAPI spec from running Spring Boot code. There are several issues with the workflow of generating code from the OpenAPI spec. It's more effective to instead write the service code, and add in the annotations required for the Swagger tools to generate the OpenAPI spec for you.

With the OpenAPI spec it's easy to produce interactive API documentation that programmers can try out directly in their web browser.

Correct character encoding with DOMDocument implementing a Wordpress content filter

(July 6, 2017) Using DOMDocument in a Wordpress content filter lets you correctly manipulate the content as HTML. It might be that Wordpress filters are commonly using regular expressions or text search/replace functions. While that can be fast and powerful, correctly changing HTML elements requires an HTML-oriented API. The specifics of HTML elements are such that regular expressions and text search/replace functions just don't cut it due to the many pitfalls from highly specific details of HTML. With DOMDocument you simply load the HTML into the library, then you use DOM functions to manipulate the HTML, then you serialize the DOM to HTML text, and voila powerful HTML manipulations easily performed. Unfortunately that method comes with its own pitfalls you must be careful of.

How to easily edit a Swagger/OpenAPI API specification using free tools

(June 15, 2017) The official way to edit a Swagger/OpenAPI document is using the Swagger Editor available through the swagger.io website, or to use the SwaggerHub website. The Editor can be run on your laptop inside a web browser which allows local JavaScript execution. As browsers tighten the screws on security the ability to do that may cease, and I see in the issue queue a request to make Electron versions of the Swagger tools. The SwaggerHub website is another option, especially as it offers lots of interesting features (at a fee). But, since OpenAPI is a free and open specification it's possible for others to develop tools. In this post we'll go over using the Swagger Editor, and using Atom to edit an OpenAPI specification.

Introduction to Time Series and InfluxDB

(May 30, 2017) Influx DB is an easy-to-use time-series database, that uses a familiar query syntax, allows for regular and irregular time series, and is part of a broad stack of platform components. This video goes over what Time Series Data is, a comparison of different Time Series Databases, and more.

Time-series data with InfluxDB, overview

(May 17, 2017) Time-series databases are used for scenarios involving collecting time-stamped data. You probably want to generate summaries (rollups and aggregations), data retention policies, and so forth. That every datum is time-stamped makes it immediately different from regular SQL databases. InfluxDB is an open source time-series database.

Easily use Let's Encrypt to HTTPS-protect your own server, for free

(2017-04-11 14:47 PDT) The search engines and browser makers are telling us to encrypt all websites. A driving factor is to protect everyone from not only miscreants wanting to hijack the web for nefarious goals, but the government security agencies who are snooping into everything. If everything on the Web is encrypted, then we'll all be better off. Until Let's Encrypt came along, the requirement to encrypt carried with it a high cost of paying for SSL certificates, and therefore many website owners would be unable to keep going. The free Lets Encrypt service opens HTTPS up to regular folk, allowing all website owners to encrypt their web traffic irregardless of how deep their pockets are. With that in mind, let's look into what it takes to set up HTTPS using Let's Encrypt.

SwaggerHub 101 An Introduction to Getting Started with SwaggerHub

(March 3, 2017) As the title suggest, this shows how to use SwaggerHub in a software development team. SwaggerHub covers a full life-cycle of API development in a team. Each project or "Organization" in SwaggerHub can have members and various settings. It can automatically generate a "mock API server" to try out the API directly via SwaggerHub.

Using Docker to host ARM toolchain to cross-compile C code

(2017-01-19 16:27) I'm starting up a project that will see me doing custom software development for an ARM single-board-computer running Linux. The recommendation isn't to do compiles ON the board, but instead to cross compile from a Linux workstation (Debian). But, I use a Mac laptop, as do most software engineers these days. While I could run VirtualBox to set up a Debian cross-compiling environment, Docker is much lighter weight. While Docker was originally targeted for deploying server applications, it is useful for packaging anything. In this case there's a ready-made set of Docker containers for cross-compilation including for ARM CPU's.

Swagger tutorial -- How to add Swagger OpenAPI to your REST API documentation

(Jan 9, 2017) An introduction to Swagger/OpenAPI. A core idea given is documentation that's interactive, and unlike typical documentation as it appears in a slide deck. The power of having an API described in an industry-standard format is the wide variety of tools available.

Building an API with Swagger

(Jan 1, 2017) Tutorial about creating an API using Swagger.

Make your own Raspberry Pi git repository server with Gogs and Docker

(2016-10-09 13:38) The Raspberry Pi is an amazing little computer that, while it's targeted at the DIY Hardware Maker, it is a full-fledged Linux computer that can be used to run services that used to require much bigger and more expensive computers. How long ago were office servers required to be $4000 systems from the likes of Dell Computers? It seems that the Raspberry Pi (and other tiny computers) can perform the same tasks at a low cost with minuscule energy requirements. To this end I'm setting up Gogs (a github-like server for Git repositories) on a Raspberry Pi. As I worked on the project it seemed most straightforward to use Docker to manage the Gogs process, and therefore the project became setting up Docker on Raspberry Pi to run other services.

Swagger and Open API Spec @codecampnyc 2016

(Oct 9, 2016)

Moving from "cloud-first" to "cloud-only" and therefore "API's" are more important than ever. Concept of the API Economy. Hence necessity for a better method to design REST-ful API's, and help others to use those API's. Another problem is the "Distributed Monolith" which is interlocking dependencies between microservices. Swagger is the solution.

Language agnostic. Helps to generate excellent documentation. No guesswork. Clearly documented REST API's.

Make a bash script detect the directory it's stored in, to access data there

(2016-09-19 15:52)

You may need to write a bash shell script that accesses data stored alongside the script, while your current working directory might be elsewhere. In my case the shell script needed to use Node.js scripts stored next to the shell scripts -- the shell script acting to simplify running the Node.js scripts. The "data" to be accessed in this case is the Node.js scripts, plus the support modules required to run them. You may have other data like a list of hostnames or who-knows-what.

InfluxDB CLI and Configuration Options

(Jul 27, 2016) Influx DB is an easy-to-use time-series database, that uses a familiar query syntax, allows for regular and irregular time series, and is part of a broad stack of platform components. The TICK stack is a set of four components that together make it quick and easy to collect time series data and graph it for users. One uses the CLI because it's always there, and is much easier than using CURL on the REST API.

Fixing 'Enter passphrase for /dev/fd/63' in a Gitlab CI job

(2016-06-30 16:53) If you're a Gitlab user you're probably hoping to use Gitlab CI to automate builds and deployments. You probably want to deploy something using rsync, using an SSH key for security. Unfortunately (in my opinion) the official Gitlab documentation is confusing. While the Gitlab team does provide example .gitlab-ci.yml files that are supposed to work, the actual specifics of what to do are sketchy, and I found myself puzzling over a curious error message: "Enter passphrase for /dev/fd/63" ... WTF?

Converting a MySQL enum for use in SQLite3

(2012-01-06 21:11) I've got a database & website I want to move from using MySQL to using SQLite3.  Well, I think I want to use SQLite3.  Their document saying what sorts of uses make sense for SQLite3 are directly in line with my website, and I do want to remove some of the load off of my MySQL server so that it can have  cycles free for more important purposes.

However I've run into a couple troubles converting the schema so that it fits within SQLite3's limited SQL support.  Turns out that it doesn't support some column types and indexes.  And that the SQL produced by mysqldump contains some MySQLisms which SQLite3 just doesn't understand.

Multiple headed Mercurial problems

(2008-11-20 20:37) Supposedly people who imbibe mercury become crazy as, well, a madhatter (so named because old-style hat-making practices involve the use of mercury). So maybe it sounds crazy to talk about multiple heads but in this case the mercury is the Mercurial source code management system. In Mercurial a 'head' is the endpoint of a chain of changes and it becomes downright inconvenient when there are multiple endpoints in the chain of changes in your source repository.
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