Sergio and the sigil

CouchDB Presentation

Posted by Sergio on 2009-10-01

In this month's Chicago ALT.NET meeting we will be taking a look at Apache CouchDB. I quote from the official site:

Apache CouchDB is a document-oriented database that can be queried and indexed in a MapReduce fashion using JavaScript. CouchDB also offers incremental replication with bi-directional conflict detection and resolution.

CouchDB provides a RESTful JSON API than can be accessed from any environment that allows HTTP requests.

Get Comfy With CouchDB

6:00 pm
Pizza and networking time

6:30 pm

CouchDB is one of the more mature schema-less map/reduce object dbs out there. In this talk we'll cover the basics of what CouchDB is, and why it's cool, and then we'll run through a sample application. The application will show off LINQ to Couch, basic persistance, views and full-text search with CouchDB-Lucene.

Alex Pedenko has been in software development for about 13 years, starting off on Borland Delphi, then spending about 4 years in Java and finally making the switch to .net around '03

Currently, he is the director of software architecture and chief architect at a healthcare services company. He has used that role as an opportunity to inject some modern ideas into an otherwise lagging industry, moving the company from a classic "giant web-app strapped to an even more giant db", to a distributed, service-oriented environment utilizing RESTful services, and rich-client applications.

Alex is also involved in a number of Open Source projects like Bistro and NDjango, and the .net side of CouchDB via Divan and LoveSeat

Taming Firebug with Profiles

Posted by Sergio on 2009-09-01

This is a tip for anyone using Firefox and Firebug for web development that is not leveraging the Profiles feature of that browser.

Recent versions of Firebug (after v1.3 I think) removed the ability to enable Firebug panes on a per-domain basis. Now it's kind of all or nothing. And you know that you don't want to have Firebug enabled when using Ajax-intensive applications like GMail, for example.

The end result is that you are stuck in this annoying dance of of enabling/disabling, open/close Firebug when switching tabs.

There are some workarounds for that but I think the best solution for this problem is through Profiles, which is also a very nice approach for web development overall.

Firefox Profiles

Firefox stores all your preferences (add-ons, state, saved passwords, history, etc) inside profile directories. It installs a default profile and that's perfectly enough for the casual browser user. Web developers, add-on developers, and power users in general, on the other hand, can find handy uses for extra profiles.

You can see your profile directories in %APPDATA%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles (or, on the Mac, ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles).

Development profile

The suggestion I'm giving is to create a separate profile just to be used during web development work. That way you can exclude some of the add-ons (like ad blockers, bookmarking extensions like Delicious, and any other non development-related extensions.) The opposite applies to your default profile — you can now remove all the development stuff from that profile and keep your browser a little lighter. In addition to that I use a different skin/theme in each profile, just to make it screaming obvious which one I'm looking at.

Here's how we create a new profile. First close all your Firefox windows and make sure there's no Firefox process running in the background. Now go to the command line and enter this:

(on Windows)
%ProgramFiles%\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe -ProfileManager
(or on the Mac)
/Applications/ -ProfileManager

This will bring up the Profile Manager, where you can easily create a new profile. Create one named Development and start it.

Once started, you'll notice that Firefox will open looking just like it did the first time you installed it. You can now install your favorite extensions for web development (like Firebug, YSlow, Web Developer Toolbar, User Agent Switcher, etc)

To launch Firefox using the the Development profile you can create a shortcut that passes some arguments to Firefox, like firefox.exe -P Development -no-remote. For example, I added that shortcut to my Desktop, Quick Launch, and Launchy. (Firefox will remember which profile you started last using the Profile Manager, and use that one next time you start Firefox without explicitly choosing a profile. You may want to leave the default profile selected in the Profile Manager.)

More uses for Profiles

Besides creating a profile dedicated to web development work, I can very well see myself eventually creating extra ones for different activities, like a Presentation profile and a NoAddons profile, for example.

Resharper Test Runner in 64-bit Windows

Posted by Sergio on 2009-07-20

In the spirit of helping the next guy, here's some explanation for a problem that was surprising to me.

We have recently upgraded our product to 64-bits and all developer workstations to Windows 2008 x64. The transition was easy and most things worked with minor or no tweak at all. We're still battling a TFS issue but that will be the subject for another day, once we figure it out.

I noticed that a bunch of my unit test cases were failing when I ran them using Resharper's test runner. I traced the problem down to missing registry values that were needed by the tests. The intriguing part was that I could see the registry settings there (see image below) and the tests were working fine using NUnit's GUI runner.

After a little poking around, I saw this in Process Explorer:

Hmmm. Visual Studio and Resharper run as 32-bit processes and NUnit's (and my application itself) as 64-bit ones. Could there be a difference between Registry access for 32-bit vs. 64-bit processes? Yessir. It turns out that my settings were in the right place but Windows was redirecting the 32-bit Registry accesses to the path shown below, which is obviously empty.

I don't know of any elegant work-around for this issue but for now I'm simply duplicating the values in both places for the sake of testing. I'm not happy with this duplication but it's got me back on track until someone bright chimes in with a better alternative.

A Craftsman sometimes has to create his own tool

Posted by Sergio on 2009-06-28

Today I was reading the latest one of the many excellent blog posts Patrick Smacchia has put out on the topic of code metrics and caring for your code's quality.

The passion this guy has for that topic is such that he has created the best tool for analyzing your code. But he doesn't stop there. He wants to make sure we understand what is going on behind the seemingly magic CQL queries that ship with NDepend. He wants you to understand your code's DNA; with the added bonus that you can actually improve that DNA.

That's Science with capital S.

  1. First you understand the problem that you are trying to fight (code complexity/unmaintainable software,)
  2. you research ways to quantify it (the metrics,)
  3. you create some tool or device to extract that information from your subject,
  4. you extract the metrics from a familiar subject,
  5. you apply your knowledge of how #2 relates to #1 and improve the subject under analysis,
  6. you use the tool to verify the metrics have improved,
  7. time shows you that the changes you made indeed reduced the problem at #1

I simply hate when someone criticizes Patrick's posts as being just marketing material for his product. Let me tell you this. If I had that much dedication for software quality, to the point that I had created a great product to empower everyone, I'd also be trying to explain the problem to you using the tool I wrote. Heck, I'm pretty sure if someone else had written NDepend Patrick would still be writing about these things and using the tool in the process.

I like code metrics and static analysis a lot as well, not nearly as much as Mr Smacchia though. I'm very excited that very soon I'll get to use it in our code base, in our CI server. I can't wait to learn more about this science and inflict positive changes in our code. Like everybody else, we know there's dirt and bad smells in our code and it's just awesome that there's a tool that can help us clearly identify, mitigate, and track it.

My hope is that I'll be able to come back here and share what I've learned about my code and how the process we went through to improve it.

So you've been hearing about this Git thing

Posted by Sergio on 2009-06-02

The ALT.NET universe in Chicago gets together again on June 10th, this time to learn and talk about Git, the SCM you're probably tired of hearing people jabbering about and still have not taken the time to look at.

The presenter will be myself and I hope to explain how Git works and how it can be a good alternative even for non open source projects.

Git Without Puns

This month we will take a look at Git, a distributed version control system that has been gaining a lot of popularity since its introduction.

As with everything that is new and is touted as a replacement for an existing product, it's easy to try and map Git's functionality to Subversion, CVS or TFS for example. To better use Git, we should avoid too much comparison and also try to understand how it was built and how it works under the hood.

Here are the things we will be seeing and discussing in this session.

  • Brief tour of Git on Windows (SSH, PuTTY, Git Bash, GUI)
  • Git is distributed. How does that benefits me?
  • Git's object database.
  • Git's main objects (blobs, trees, commits and tags)
  • Git workflows. Choose or create yours.
  • Working with Git
    • Configuration tips
    • Create a repo
    • Clone a repo
    • Add/Commit changes
    • Reference another repo
    • Update repo (to/from)
    • Branching, merging, rebasing
  • Hosting Git
  • Github, social project forking