Our Path To Services - Part 1 - Start Small

The PipelineDeals web application recently celebrated its ninth birthday. It’s seen its fair share of developers, all of whom had their own idea of clean code. As a team, we’d been brainstorming ways to wrangle certain areas of the application. The question we’d frequently ask ourselves was How do we clean up _______ [some neglected feature of the application]?. »

Random Decision Forests in Ruby

What do you get excited about? If you have a life, the answer probably isn’t machine learning. It’s arcane, sciency and downright neckbeard-y. Worst of all, it can be hard to see why you should care. There is no 20 minute tech talk you can watch, drop into your favorite editor and be on your way to winning the Netflix Prize. The value proposition can be a tough sell. As it turns out, it’s pretty bloody exciting to me. If you’re still here, maybe I’ve got a shot at convincing you. Read on, brave adventurer! »

The Trouble with Suburbs: A Premortem

We’ve mentioned it before, but we’re currently in love with breaking functionality out of our monstrous core app into smaller, more manageable service apps. There’s still a lot going on in PipelineDeals City, but some nice suburbs are popping up that offer all sorts of amenities. (You simply can’t beat the freshness of the farmers' market in Calendar Sync Township. Starting to wish that’s how we actually named these things.) Life has been pretty great living on the outskirts. Domain knowledge is nicely contained and kept safe from the high crime rates and outrageous rents we were paying in the big city. But every now and then, we start to miss the convenience of what we once had. As crazy as it seems, it feels like life was simpler back then. But that just can’t be. I want to take a look at some of the problems we’re facing in this new world. We’ve overcome them all in temporary ways, but let’s ignore those solutions for now. Let’s figure out together how to make them better before we get lost for good. (These new towns always take forever to show up on the map.) »

Strategies for Testing Ruby Services in a Rails app

At PipelineDeals, we follow the microservice architecture pattern. Many of our features are separate applications that expose a REST API. But this poses a challenge for testing our service applications. This post describes a strategy for using an adapter to isolate the service in question, and then outlines a different strategies for testing the service integration. »

A more serious postmortem/retrospective on Vagrant

Well that made people angry. Really angry. But amidst all the hoopla, some people did make some really good points about me coming across as a childish nincompoop. Also, I sounded too condescending and derogatory of the incredibly valuable field of devops, and didn’t judge fairly. All fair accusations. This didn’t upset me. I mean, such a dousing of founded criticism is always a little hard to stomach. But it didn’t upset me a lot, not really. Maybe if I had written the article recently it would have. But I wrote it a year ago! So I sort of watched this all roll in from a distance. People were displeased with past me! But hey, so am I. However, I am not displeased with my decision to stop using Vagrant. I think that was definitely the correct decision for our team, at the beginning of 2014. I think I wasted a lot of time in 2013, trying to keep our Vagrant hobbling along. This coming from the only person on our team to ever push for Vagrant! I championed it for years. I still think of it fondly. (I certainly overstated the title of the last article. I tried to make the whole thing quite sensational. Perhaps people reacted against my sensationalism. Fair enough.) Maybe someday we’ll return to it. But not now. And here’s why. »

Why You Shouldn't Use Vagrant: Real talk from a Vagrant burn-out

This was originally published on Chad’s personal blog on 21 Feb 2014. Hey, kid. Someday, some charmer is going to smooth talk you. Why would you want MySQL and PostgreSQL both running on your machine all the time? they’ll probably ask. Just run them when you need them. Then they’ll tell you about some slick way their company allowed all of their developers to click buttons on some website, like ordering a Fatty Meal at a McDougle’s: MySQL, Redis, a custom queue server, and our main app, please. Then BOOM. They get a fully configured VM, just like that! With exactly the things they need and none of that other crap. They spin it up, they get their work done. No fuss, no hassle. No having developers waste time configuring their environments. And most of all, your charmer will woo you with how you’ll never again have developers saying, it works on my machine! That’ll be their biggest selling point. It will also be their biggest lie. »