Clean Code Is Good Code

When it comes to code style I am a hardcore extremist. I’m not talking about things like spaces vs. tabs. What I’m getting at is clean, readable code. I’m into its visual appeal. Clean code is code that looks like a pretty pattern from across the room. It’s code I can understand a year from now. Clean code is good code and good code is working code. Let’s talk about what clean code is and how to write it.

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Dotnever: Keep Secrets in Your Project Without the Use of a Library

Let’s state the obvious here: you don’t want to store secrets in a public Git repository (usually on GitHub) but you need to use those secrets to run your app. It’s a conundrum. How do you keep API keys, hash salts, passwords, and other sensitive information out of your public repository but still available to your app at runtime? The answer that most people have settled on is the very popular dotenv module/package/whatever your language of choice calls libraries. This module keeps your secrets safe in a .env file ignored by Git that’s stored in your project’s root directory and it’s contents are automatically loaded as environment variables when the system starts up. It’s a great idea but we just don’t need it anymore. Here I’ll offer up an alternative to dotenv, when dotenv makes sense to use, and why most projects can safely and easily ditch this library.

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Don’t Steal Code (Catfish for Code)

Becoming a developer is the hot new things these days. We’ve got a tech bubble that’s ready to burst any day now and everywhere you look you see companies and investors hammering and yammering on about this idea that “everyone should learn to code”. First of all, I disagree with this statement but supposing it’s true, it creates an environment where competition is fierce and people will do unethical things in order to make it in this market. I recently had a bad experience where some of my open source code was stolen and misrepresented as someone else’s code. What it all boiled down to was trying to set up an impressive portfolio for potential employees. In the interest of being kind I won’t be naming names and changing some details because this isn’t about shaming people. This is a true story of stolen code. For those who would misrepresent others’ code as their own: take it as a warning. For those who’ve had code stolen or are afraid of it, you’re not alone and maybe this will help you figure out what to do if it happens to you.

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Coding on the Go

I’m one of those weirdos who wants to code on my phone. Sometimes I’ll just get bored waiting in a lobby, riding on the ‘L’, sitting at a boring party, or sometimes I just don’t have my MacBook near me and inspiration strikes. A year ago I would have thought complete project management on iOS was impossible but it turns out you can now do everything from writing code, SSHing into servers, and managing Git repositories all from the comfort of your iPhone. Today I’m going to show you how you can manage any coding project from your phone.

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Training Wheels

Services like Heroku, Elastic Beanstalk, and the rest are great tools for “easy” and “fast” web application deployment. While I can’t deny the benefits of these PaaS providers I think that some of their users are doing a disservice to themselves by choosing to use them. When PaaS services like Heroku get used as a developer’s first introduction to application deployment it can have a lasting, sometimes negative impact on their growth trajectory.

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How Non-PHP Web Apps Work

I’m currently teaching a web development immersive course at General Assembly and we’re on the section on MVC. We’re using Ruby with Sinatra to teach MVC and a pattern I’ve noticed is that students have a PHP style mindset about how routes are handled in a modular Sinatra app. By “PHP style mindset” I mean they seem to think that the file names have something to do with how routes are rendered. I want to cover how non-PHP web applications (including but not exclusively Sinatra) handle routing today so we can clear this up for beginners to Ruby, Node.js, Python, or other dynamic languages once and for all.

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Securing API Keys in a JavaScript Single Page App

About three years ago I wrote about securing API keys in a client-side JavaScript application. I had some good ideas but boy was I overthinking it. Now in 2016, as a senior developer I have some better advice for securing not just your API keys but your entire web application when developing single page apps in vanilla JavaScript or with a framework like React or Angular.

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Dropping IE Support

I’ve almost completely dropped support for old Internet Explorer in my most recent projects despite the fact that they should be accessible to a wide and non-technical audience. Call me crazy but I have more reasons than simple insanity for doing so. Internet Explorer usage (for versions I’m not targeting) has dropped to single digits and progressive enhancement is something that should be applied in a generalized way that targets all browsers. I won’t advocate for dropping IE wholesale but if you’re thinking of moving that way, maybe this will ease some of your concerns.

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Getting Good at Development

I’ve been thinking a lot about design lately and having a hell of a time designing and coding a simple landing page for a marketing campaign I’m working on. 2015 was a very code heavy year for me. I didn’t do much design work for most of the year so now that I need to design something it’s harder than ever. This then got me to thinking about how it was that I got to be any good at either coding or design. What I discovered is something I wish I had known as a beginner and something that I think would help anyone struggling with a creative block or just general frustration over the quality of their work. This is how to become good at anything.

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Design for Programmers (and Other Non-Designers)

Let’s face it – most developers suck at design. They aren’t the greatest marketers either. That’s okay, you can’t be an expert in everything. But what happens when you want to create beautiful designs to bring your ideas to life? Designing landing pages and marketing sites is tough for programmers and non-designers. That’s why today I’m going to share with you my secrets to designing great looking web pages even (or especially) if you’re not a designer.

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