Compiling Ruby from source for your development environment

For most of us, downloading the development package of Ruby for your platform will suffice. For the curious, or those needing a Ruby version that doesn’t have a pre-built package available you have to resort to compiling ruby from source code. Fortunately, as we have built ourselves a clean development environment using Vagrant, this is actually a pretty simple task!

Advertisement for a kit home

Whilst most of us are fine with buying an existing home, some of us want to build our own; and so it is with Ruby

Read More »

Posted in Engineering, Rails, Ruby, Software Craftsmanship | Leave a comment

Building A Pristine Rails Virtual Machine

A (thankfully) long time ago in a galaxy far far away I developed web apps in Flash. And when I had to target different versions I had to go through a whole rigamarole of uninstalling and reinstalling plugins. Fast forward to now and I’m often working on projects in Ruby. I’ve found RVM and gemsets to be a lifesaver for managing multiple environments on different projects. But as the environment gets more complicated I’ve started to want to have each project live in splendid isolation, in their own Virtual Machine. My last post described getting a bare-bones Ruby development environment up and running. This post details taking that a little further, and getting a Rails Virtual Machine up and running.

Vagrants on Rails

These are some Vagrants on the Rails. Read on for Rails on Vagrants…

Read More »

Posted in Agile Software Development, Engineering, Rails, Ruby, Software Craftsmanship | Leave a comment

Using Puppet and Vagrant to make a one-click development environment

Keeping a development environment clean and tidy can be a bitch. When you are working on multiple projects across different platforms it can get messy really fast. And if you’re managing a team of people and need them all to run your app locally things can get tricky too. Recently I’ve setup a process so that a pristine development environment can be spun up for a project in glorious isolation. And the best thing is, once you have it set-up, you can spin up new environments in just one command!

Rees's Polygraph

Write once, deploy many times has been a goal for rather a long time

Read More »

Posted in Agile Software Development, Engineering, Rails, Ruby, Software Craftsmanship | Leave a comment

An external keyboard for the iPad; making the right choice

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m traveling for the next few weeks on a sabbatical to Europe and Asia. I’m keeping a journal of my travels on my tumblog, and from time to time figure I’ll be writing longer text posts here. Because of this, I figured that I should bring an external keyboard with me and I’ve already found it to be a tremendous help. Even writing short emails is so much easier on a real keyboard. When I was researching, I quickly narrowed it down to two choicee: The Apple wireless keyboard (with the Incase origami case) and the Zagg Zaggfolio case and keyboard.

Read More »

Posted in Tablets, Travelling Light | Leave a comment

Tablet only living—A geek travelling light

In about a week’s time I’m taking off on a sabbatical. I’m fortunate enough to have employers who have agreed to let me off the leash for a few weeks, so I’m making the most of it.

On the road again, and learning to be more like a car than a truck

I’m using the opportunity to take myself off on a journey that will take me from Berlin to Bangkok, from Paris to Paro. But this isn’t just a grand tour where I’m off to ‘find myself’ (although I will be travelling to PBH)—I’m also using this as an experiment in tablet-only living.

Read More »

Posted in Tablets, Travelling Light | 4 Responses

Performance – spend it wisely and never raise the debt ceiling

The US had it’s credit rating downgraded yesterday. For many people, it seems at first a little abstract and vaguely ominous—a chance for China to get it’s own back after being harangued by the US on its undervaluation of the Yuen. Maybe the outcome will be catastrophic, maybe not so much. Only time will tell. What Standard and Poor’s have basically said is that there is more chance than before that America will fail to pay its bills on time. But what does this have to do with quality software and how it gets built? Well here’s the thing—the way the US government are managing the economy and the debt ceiling are very similar to the way many software projects go slowly south; everyone recognizes that something needs to be done, but none can agree on what the right course of action actually is.

Stock market crash "100 dollars will buy this car, lost all on stock market"

Don't overpromise and foreclose on your project

Read More »

Posted in Engineering, Quality Software, Software Estimation | Leave a comment

Have you been hurt by code reuse? Learn from De Niro

Ever used someone else’s code; a library or sample app online? Ever got to a point where it’s been so mind-bendingly painful that you rue the day you ever found the stupid ‘library’ in the first place? If not then chances are you’re not a developer, you’re this guy, or you’re delusional. Spurred by a conversation with Mateo, my friend and former development buddy about this, I started to think a little deeper about what the problem is with code reuse. We expect a well-made production quality piece of work, and before long we realize that we are stuck with something that is sucking time away rather than letting us develop the hard stuff faster. So when should you reuse code? Here are some thoughts on when you should proceed with abandon, and when you might want to be more cautious…

We think we are getting this...

...but often end up stuck with this

Read More »

Posted in Quality Software, Software Craftsmanship, Test Driven Development | Leave a comment

Try this, my mini-application for software estimation

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a simple yet powerful process for software estimation. When I was done I started to look at my excel worksheet for doing this process and figured that it could be something I could share with a broader audience. Rather than just post an excel file, I decided to create a simple software estimation app and post it here. You can go check it out now, or read on to get a bit more detail into the thinking behind it.

Screenshot of the software estimation app

The estimation app in action

Read More »

Posted in Agile Software Development, Quality Software, Software Estimation | Leave a comment

Software Estimation — A good simple way courtesy of the Navy and the cold war

In my last post I told you that your next project will take longer than you think. Now I’ve destroyed hope I’m going to show you how you can use this knowledge to be better at software estimation. We’re going to use a simple but very effective technique first developed by the Navy back in the ’50s when they were building the Polaris nuclear submarine. Faced with tremendous risk and uncertainty, they had to work out how to build a missile that had never been built before, to be carried on a submarine more complex than contemporary technology would allow. And by the way, they had to work out how get a missile to launch underwater and hit a target thousands of miles away when no one had built a decent guidance system before. Oh, and the Russians were breathing down their neck with the Sputnik project. The Navy managed to develop a system of estimation and risk management that was so effective, they delivered three years early. Think your project is harder to estimate than that? Think again. Get on board and read on to find out how you can use this technique for your own means…

How long would it take you to build “the free world’s most formidable weapon”?

Read More »

Posted in Quality Software, Software Estimation | 4 Responses

Your project will take longer than you think and less than a Nukem

I will tell you how long your next project will take to release. You won’t like it, but I’ll tell you. A game is launching this week and in the story of its development is the key to successful software estimation. The game is Duke Nukem Forever, and just like the title, it did pretty much take forever to launch. Five thousand, one hundred and sixty days to be precise. That’s just over 14 years. Longer than it took to build the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge and the World Trade Center combined. It took so long, people have put up sites covering how long it took. The game is by most accounts at best mediocre and at worst atrocious—in my highly opinionated view, the duration of a release is inversely proportional to product quality. But that’s not the story here. What’s important is why it happened and what it can tell you about software estimation on your own project.

Duke Nukem Forever Launched after 14 years development; what can this big chested antihero teach you about your project?

Read More »

Posted in Quality Software, Software Estimation | 3 Responses