Working with Guests: Seven Tips for Getting your Company Ready to Leverage External Firepower

By on in Process

Companies have been successfully partnering with consultants since the dawn of time. Think IDEO’s work with Apple to create the mouse or Microsoft’s work with IBM to create MS-DOS. Our nation’s competitive strength comes, in large part, from this openness to collaborate, to learn from each other, to move quicker, and to leverage outside strengths, when needed and without shame.

Regardless of where you stand on the topic of partnering, there is one thing you have to realize. If you’re in tech and growing fast, there is a high likelihood you will have to partner at some point to meet your goals. Today’s labor market is just too tight to fill all the demand for experienced software talent.

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Cross-Platform Elixir Releases with Docker

By on in Development, Docker

Deployment, despite being an essential task, can be a confusing part of shipping an application. Depending on your stack, there could be a plethora of tools out there or… none at all. Unfortunately, Elixir falls into the latter bucket. Despite having a heart of gold, the language is still obscure, and that makes the process of deployment a tiny bit harder.

Addressing this problem may have been the reason for incorporating releases into version 1.9 of the language. Since the version bump, Elixir Releases have received the official blessing of the core language team. That means that deployment will finally be a piece of cake… right? There’s a caveat. While releases are meant to be self-contained executables, they still call out to native system libraries to do things like open TCP sockets and write to files. That means that the native libraries referenced at compile time need to be exactly the same as the ones on your target machine. Unless you can guarantee that your workstation and cloud are exactly the same, releases can seem like only half the promise of a stress-free deployment.

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Migrating From Sprockets to Webpacker

By on in Development, JavaScript, Rails

Starting with Rails 6, Webpacker became the default asset compiler, replacing sprockets–better known as the asset pipeline. While the asset pipeline was a big step for its time in making it easy to package JS, CSS, and images, webpack has matured enough to do all of the above and more, due to modern JavaScript’s support for modular imports and exports.

Why Migrate?

Personally, the biggest benefit of webpacker is how it encourages me to think about structuring assets as components so that they are theoretically portable and do not rely on hidden globals. And by using an extensible tool like webpack under the hood, you can take advantage of popular plugins and customizations to tune what you need – like deduplicating shared imports, in both JS and CSS. Finally, you’re not limited to just extending webpack: it’s much easier to tap into the huge ecosystem of npm packages.

Below is a breakdown of how to start moving from sprockets to webpacker.

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Running Multiple Versions of Postgres with Docker Compose for Local Development

By on in Development, Docker

Say we have Project X and Project Y that require Postgres 9 and Postgres 10 respectively. These projects aren’t using Docker to manage their Postgres dependency so it is up to each developer to manage this themselves. How do we get different versions of Postgres running simultaneously on our workstation without making any modifications to these projects? One easy way is to use Docker Compose.

Why not Homebrew? With Homebrew, installing multiple versions of Postgres is easy, but running them simultaneously is cumbersome. With Docker Compose, both installing and running are easy. Note that we’re not “dockerizing” the applications themselves; instead, we’re using Docker Compose as an alternative to Homebrew to fetch and run Postgres. Continue reading …


Why Write Good Pull Requests?

By on in Development

What is a pull request?

Pull requests let you tell others about changes you’ve pushed to a branch in a repository on GitHub. Once a pull request is opened, you can discuss and review the potential changes with collaborators and add follow-up commits before your changes are merged into the base branch.

Github

Many development teams use pull requests as a way to control and socialize the code changes made for a given project. They serve as documentation for the development process as well as a tool to discuss and review the changes. They can also inform future developers about the reasoning behind a particular implementation or coding pattern by including notes about the current state of things when the pull request was originally submitted.

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Don’t Drop the Ball on the Demo

By on in Product Management

Every once in a while an embarrassing product demo gets captured in the media and we all hold our collective breath as the latest source of escalated hype plummets back down to the ground. A version of this happened a few weeks ago when Tesla attempted to show off the “armor glass” on its new Cybertruck model by slinging a metal ball at the window, leaving CEO Elon Musk blinking in the limelight as CRACK,  glass shattered to the floor.

Well, that was not supposed to happen…

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Ground Control to Major Tom: How to Excel in Remote Research

By on in Design, User Research

There is never a ‘good time’ to do research, but we can at least all agree when and why it is necessary for strategic product decisions. What happens when the only research you can fit in your project is remote – with participants and with a co-located team? Before you cringe, pull your hair, or just laugh – here are some techniques we learned during our recent engagement with DailyPay.

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The Best of Both Worlds: HTML Apps & Svelte

By on in Development, JavaScript, Open Source, Rails

At Carbon Five we try to be agile about our technology choices and pick the simplest tool for the job at hand. That means that even in 2019, the era of React and Redux and GraphQL and all the other fancy tools for client-side web applications, sometimes the best tool for our clients is a good old Rails app, serving HTML.

Often the vision for the project pushes us towards a Single Page Application instead — maybe the app is going to be highly interactive or include realtime data, or the client is already invested in a front-end framework. In those cases, of course, we’ll reach for React or Angular or Vue. But for the traditional CRUD app that just needs to show some data and let users update it, a small team of experienced Rails developers can get an idea to market incredibly quickly.

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Changes Requested

By on in Development, Process

Each team has their own tolerance for what is and is not a reason to request changes on a PR and block it from being merged. This may be rooted in process, fairness, and expediency, and may be a company or team decision. Whatever your personal philosophy may be, the team as a whole and often the company has to come to some sort of consensus as to what constitutes a reason to block a PR. Over time, I’ve gotten a little more “block happy” and I’m going to talk about some of the advantages and pitfalls of blocking, and give you a mega list of reasons you might want to block a PR.

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