Taking Elm for a Test Drive

By on in Development, JavaScript

Elm emerged on the scene in early 2012 as a strongly-typed, functional language that compiles down to Javascript. With its architecture and type system, it claims to provide bulletproof guardrails to help developers build systems that are highly reliable, with “no runtime exceptions in practice”.

Elm prides itself on having a low barrier of entry – it can be introduced as a component into an existing web app, so long as your app can provide it a self-contained div. In fact, the creators of Elm strongly advocate taking an incremental approach to introducing Elm into your systems.

Lately, a few Carbon Fivers and I have been taking the language out for a spin and discovering what it means to write software systems in Elm. In this post, we’ll walk through what it looks like to take a small form widget written in vanilla jQuery and convert it to Elm, picking up language basics and learning to write apps the Elm way. We’ll also discuss the unique feature set that makes Elm apps so reliable.

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Using Host Instead of “replace: true” in Angular 4

By on in Development

Let’s say that you’re working on an Angular 4 app that displays some images. You want to add a directive you can apply to any image tag to make it look fancy when you mouse over it. You also want a component that will take up 100% of its parent container’s width and display an array of images in a flex row. Let’s call these FancyImageDirective and ImageRowComponent. Continue reading …


Always Squash and Rebase your Git Commits

By on in Development

Using git for version control allows for powerful collaboration in tech teams. Like any tool, if misused, it can also cause some serious headaches. After working with a wide variety of team sizes and dynamics, I’ve found that the squash and rebase workflow helps make the collaboration process more efficient and a hell of a lot less painful.

What is the squash rebase workflow?

It’s simple – before you merge a feature branch back into your main branch (often master or develop), your feature branch should be squashed down to a single buildable commit, and then rebased from the up-to-date main branch. Here’s a breakdown. Continue reading …


Copying and Pasting with tmux 2.4+

By on in Development

At Carbon Five it’s pretty common to do our editing in vim embedded in a tmux session. Tmux, if you haven’t used it, is a “terminal multiplexer” that lets you create multiple tabs and panes in a terminal, persist terminal sessions, and (with plugins) send commands from vim to another pane. It’s also great for remote pair programming, since you can share a session over the internet.

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How to make an experience map

By on in Design

An experience map is a structured customer journey map that we use at Carbon Five to help identify challenges and opportunities within an existing (or imagined) experience. Since we use it so often – both when scoping projects and when kicking off major phases of work – we’d love to share a bit about what makes a great experience map. And because we create them collaboratively with stakeholders, we’ll share our facilitator tips for running an enjoyable experience mapping workshop.

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How to save 90% of your development budget

By on in Design, Process, Product Management, Startups, User Research

Carbon Five was recently brought in to build a new product with a planned budget of 6 months. As the first step, we conducted a few rounds of customer development to try and validate the concept. After a month of experiments by a product manager and designer, we ultimately recommended that the company not pursue the idea. Our client spent a few weeks of consulting fees but saved more than 90% of their budget by not building anything.

The client for this project provides software to a niche set of businesses. As more and more competition started popping up, they believed they saw an opportunity to create a digital marketplace in their niche. Before Carbon Five started building software, the client wanted us to confirm demand for the marketplace.

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Evented Rails: Decoupling complex domains in Rails with Domain Events

By on in Development, Microservices, Rails, Ruby

Raphael Koh

In our last Domain-Driven Design discussion, we learned how to group similar business components into application Bounded Contexts, which were separated folders in our Rails apps. This segregated cohesive groups of application code into separate folder structures (bounded contexts), and gave us a jumping-off point to drawing more explicit boundaries between domains in our monolith. Now it’s time for us to re-think how to communicate from one context to another. Here’s how:

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Razor: Hit the Ground Running With Your Next Phoenix Project

By on in Development, Elixir, Open Source

As the popularity of Elixir and Phoenix continues to grow, we find ourselves spinning up more and more Phoenix apps for our clients and side projects. At Carbon Five, we have a pretty good consensus on our favorite practices and tools. With each new app, we find ourselves repeating the same steps to bring in many of the same resources and processes.

We created Razor, an opinionated app generator, to save ourselves this time and trouble. Razor isn’t the only one out there, but it captures our common needs and preferences at Carbon Five pretty comprehensively. It also provides a great platform for discussion; we hope to watch Razor evolve as the Elixir ecosystem grows and we continue to learn.

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Top Traits of Successful Non-technical Founders

By on in Process

As a digital product development consultancy that delivers more than 30 projects a year, we get to work with a lot of founders: technical and non-technical alike. Over the last 17 some-odd years, there are a few traits we see time and again in successful non-technical founders. And really, these six traits benefit anyone trying to create a successful new product.

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