Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it.Brian Kernighan
Every developer is familiar with Pull Request, however recently I came across another useful practice – “sTool Request”. sTool request is a simple and powerful practice yet some, especially junior developers, hesitate to use it; at least I noticed the behaviour in my team and so it is a good time to talk about it.
Unless your team is practicing pair programming, everyone tends to work alone and often the only time you get to see work of another developer is at Pull Request time. While it is generally a good thing, there are few drawbacks:
- Effort has been expanded – sunk cost bias has already kicked in
- Work is completed – physically & physiologically – let’s move on to the next thing
- Code has settled – mistakes are more expensive to fix
- In case a bug is discovered at a later point, it is harder to figure from the original developer – rarely anyone remembers details of decision making and code several weeks back.
sTool Request can help remedy those issues to some degree, at the very least it is cheaper to brainstorm/discuss questions, issues and ideas prior to producing code, and/or at any point during the work. So here goes my proposal to a team:
“Got a question or a doubt? Perhaps you want to bounce ideas around? Ask a team member to grab a stool/chair, sit down and help you out. Use the momentum to have a rich conversation and/or debate. Don’t wait for PR (Pull Request), refactor card, or a bug report. We are all on the same team, working together to deliver team’s goal, improve quality and learn new things.”
I would love for people to pair program, but in the absence of the practice, it is useful to invoke “sTool Request”, summon a developer and work things out. There are so many times I though to myself: “if only a developer have asked prior, he wouldn’t have made those mistakes and also learned a ton from the experience”. It is harder to learn retrospectively, it is better to learn in the moment.
A while back I decided to make a progressive web-app and for the fun of it, learn a new framework (Angular 7 at the time, 9 now), language (TypeScript) and to top it all off, challenge myself by test driving the entire thing.
From the very inception, I decided to test drive my app and to do it only with unit tests and depending on your definition, integration tests. After years of writing, re-writing and maintaining end-2-end tests, I figured one thing only: they are a waste of time and money. So my entire app is test driven by jasmine specs, starting at individual components (or a service) and moving onto a combination of components (how they work together) and culminating with the main component which is mostly in charge of testing navigation through out the app.
Now, to test a component in Angular (to the best of my knowledge and understanding) is to test a template and associate code together as one thing (unit of work). This represents a bit of a challenge, mostly associated with manipulation of UI. Effectively you will be doing a lot of query selections, clicking, and sometimes dealing with async and Angular change detection. Since I get to work on my app few hours per week, I tend to forget (sometimes rather quickly) fine details of writing a component test. Like the saying goes: “if you can’t beat them, join them”, so I gave up on constant rehashing and decided to write my own test helper, which is easy to use and doesn’t need much to remember. For example, find an element with the placeholder value of “name”.
In addition to all of the above, jasmine errors tend to be verbose and not very user friendly. For example if you are trying to query select all elements, which don’t exist (but you assumed they did) and then call a method on a particular one, you will be met with off-putting exception “undefined is not an object”.
TypeError: undefined is not an object (evaluating 'this.findElementsByPlaceholder(placeholder)') in http://localhost:9876/karma_webpack/main.js (line 3909)
I believe we can do better than that. We can wrap “query select all” calls in your own method, check length and if there are no elements then simply throw an error with explanation. For example:
Error: Could not find a placeholder: name in either of tags: placeholder,ng-reflect-placeholder in http://localhost:9876/karma_webpack/main.js (line 3906)
By doing so, you effectively eliminate confusion and save yourself some time (at least I do). So go out there and throw some well-explained exceptions, so you don’t have to guess which object is undefined and why.
Today in the morning I spend couple of hours trying to implement dropdown with filter and “valid only” entry. I started my endeavor with ng-bootstrap dropdown (since I’m working on Angular app), quickly realizing that it will not work since there is no filter option. Next I figured that a typeahead will fit much much better.
Everything worked out very well except for one big caveat: the typeahead does not clear “<input>” field when entry is not valid (not in the list of options). After monkeying with “onBlur” for about 20 minutes, a sane thought occurred in my head: “What am I doing? Hacking? There must be a straight forward way!”.
Welcome Multi-Select Dropdown
The Multi-Select Dropdown also supports single option:
It looks promising and I’m very happy someone figured it out, however I wonder why doesn’t ng-bootstrap include such a useful component?
After reading and breaking your head for a while, you finally demystified a piece of code and staring at it you wonder: “why does it have to be so complex”? – Has this ever happened to you?
Oh uncle Bob, where would we be without you & clean code?
Also check out thought provoking talk about developers and responsibility
From time to time I like to take a break from brain wrenching talks and watch something relaxing, fun and educational. Enjoy.
Really good talk by Sam Newman.
Yeah, Java 8 is done for it, but not everywhere, some are still programming in it. In any case, I enjoy Venkat’s talks (even attended one many years ago) he never skips the beat.
Great talk about team leaders & dev. teams. If you liked the talk and need more insight, you can read Roy’s book: “Notes to software team leader”. I enjoyed the book greatly.