Carbon Five + Cooper: Exploring Alexa & the Future of Voice UIs

By on in C5 Labs, Design, Development

Recently, designers and technologists from Cooper & Carbon Five sat down to brainstorm about the future of voice-driven user experiences, focusing initially on Alexa. It was a fun kickoff for what we hope turns into a series of prototypes and experiments exploring (and pushing) the boundaries of this exciting emerging technology. Here’s what we’ve discovered so far:

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Rails Database Best Practices

By on in Development, Rails

Working on an oldish Rails project, I came across some smelly ActiveRecord code that begged for some refactoring love. I also spent some time speeding up pages with slow/many database calls. Between those two experiences, I felt the inspiration to write-up some “Back to Basics” Rails Database Best Practices.

Rule #1: Let your Database do its Job

Databases are extremely feature rich and are really freakin fast when used properly. They’re great at filtering and sorting… and many other things. If the database can do it, it will do it way faster than doing the same thing in Ruby, or any other language for that matter.

You might have to learn a little bit about how DBs work, but honestly, you don’t have to go very deep to reap a majority of the benefits.

We generally use Postgres. What you choose is less important than getting to know it and using its features to make your product awesome. If you’re curious about Postgres, there are some good resources at the end of this post. We love it.

Our first, overarching rule: Let your database do what databases are good at, instead of doing it in Ruby.

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Bring clarity to your monolith with Bounded Contexts

By on in Development, Microservices, Rails

Check out the video of this talk from ElixirConf 2017 below

Monolithic applications are great when you start building your company, but as time progresses, they become difficult to maintain. These codebases, as they grow, easily become Big Balls of Mud.

Indiana Jones Rock

When building large applications in frameworks like Rails, the very convention-over-configuration design principles that made Rails such a joy to use begin to get in the way when the application grows in scope. You may be experiencing the same pains as well if:

  • Refactoring is difficult and tedious, because methods and classes depend on too many other classes
  • You have an ever-growing list of business objects that are difficult to keep in your head. In fact, nobody seems to be able to understand the system as a cohesive whole
  • Changing code in one area of the code leads to unexpected and unintended side effects in other areas of the code, because it’s easy to call out to global services and objects

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Ubiquitous Language & the joy of naming

By on in Development

I want to discuss a topic near to my heart, a topic I believe to be the crux of effective software design. No, it’s not a new functional language, it’s not a fancy new framework, it’s not a how-to guide to do micro-services, nor a quantum leap in the field of machine learning.

It’s much simpler. It’s about names.

I Declare Thee the RideCommerce Service...

Names define us. They give life to abstract ideas and concepts and yet also stand in for real, physical objects. They’re language concepts, but more than that, they’re units of meaning. When used precisely, names enable shared understanding and smooth teamwork among people. Continue reading …


Setting up React Native build environments using NativeModules

By on in Development, Everything Else, JavaScript

React Native is an emerging platform in the mobile space that allows developers to write native apps in Javascript without having to learn Java or Swift. It’s great conceptually, but developers end up having to write NativeModules (for iOS and Android) anyway because it lacks the tools that other frameworks generally provide. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to pass your build environment from the native environment to your javascript environment. In the process, you should get a better idea of how to build simple NativeModules.

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Open Source 101: Be a Contributor

By on in Development, Open Source

If you’ve spent anytime writing software, you’ve used an open source project. Open source projects save you time and energy by leveraging other people’s experience and hard work, leaving you free to focus on the core features of your project. Often people want to contribute to these projects, but don’t know where to start. They are afraid their contributions will be ignored or, worse yet, attacked. With tools like GitHub freely available for open source projects, anyone can become a contributor. If you follow a few simple steps, you can have a positive experience. Continue reading …


Top 10 Product Mistakes Made by First Time Founders

By on in Development, Product Management, Startups

 

The tech scene (especially in the Bay Area) has reached a point where it’s expanded way past techies. It seems successful people from all different industries are drawn to the promise, reach, and money in tech. Doctors, bankers, artists, and even educators are launching startups and talking about MVPs. It’s definitely exciting and inspires me everyday. But, building a great product is sometimes more of an art than a science, and first time founders make common mistakes. From a company that has worked with more startups than it can count, and has seen its fair share of first time product mistakes, here are some of the most common ones to avoid.

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Elixir in the Trenches

By on in Development, Elixir

At Carbon Five, we’ve been getting excited about Elixir and Phoenix – with its promise of the productivity of Ruby and Rails without the performance penalty. We’ve used it for a few of our internal projects with great success, but we’re always wary of any new technology’s hype cycle. We wanted a bit more experience working with Elixir on a real project.

We recently had the opportunity to do so. The project was an iOS application that made heavy use of the device’s location services; users can share where they are and what they’re doing. We needed a backend for an API, and to keep all connected clients up-to-date. From the start, Phoenix and its channels seemed like a great fit. Today, we’d like to share some of what we learned.

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