Secret Weblog Highlights

This is an old blog by now. I started it in 2005. But I'm not old! No way!

Over the years I wrote a lot of stuff. Sprinkled throughout are entries that I think are still relevant. So if you'd like, join me in my little journey through the history of my secret weblog. Warning: it's mostly about software development in one way or another.

In a few places I will brag about my uncanny ability to invent future web development trends just in time -- around the same time other people are more successfully inventing them.

What is Pythonic?

What is Pythonic? from 2005 is one of the earliest entries in my blog, and one of the most popular ones. It's because it answers a question many who learn Python will ask: what the heck does "Pythonic?" mean?


Under-engineering, over-engineering, right-engineering talks about the careful balancing act we have to do as developers: what's the Goldilocks zone of engineering complexity for a particular problem?

Debugging Strategy: easy stuff first gives the following advice: even though the bug can't possibly be caused by a thing, if that thing is quick and easy to check, check anyway.

The Story of None is a series of posts about how to deal with None/null/undefined in software. It touches on guard clauses, validation and normalization.

Life at the Boundaries: Conversion and Validation goes into application layering and what we do at the boundaries. A lot of creative software development is establishing and guarding boundaries in applications and frameworks.

Punctuated Equilibrium in Software is a case study of the conceptual changes that happened over the course of a few years in one of the software libraries I wrote.

And just recently I wrote Refactoring to Multiple Exit Points.

Python 3 transition

Last year (2018), I read an article on lwn that said the following:

The switch from Python 2 to 3 is a huge job; one might guess that it is orders of magnitude larger than anyone had anticipated back in the heady days of Python 3000 (around 2007, say).

Anyone, you say? In 2007, I wrote Brief Python 3000 thoughts. The Greek myth of Cassandra resonates with me now. I am glad the end of this transition now appears to be in sight at last.

I think the Gravity of Python 2 (from 2014) is the most insightful article of the bunch I wrote on this topic - it talks about the invisible hands that were holding back Python 3 adoption. I think these forces apply in any widely used foundational software that breaks compatibility.

Modern client-side times

In an otherwise not very relevant article in 2009, I wrote this:

If I can count techniques I've been trying to pioneer myself: Template-driven development where the web browser renders the templates. This along with the notion of client-side views can lead to surprisingly clean rich client-side apps.

Client-side templates and views are now a huge thing on the web. But when I wrote the article, Backbone and Angular were almost a year away still.

In 2011, I wrote about my experiment in 2003, when I first tried to build a client-side template language:

I told other developers about it, and they all asked "why?". My answer was something like "I don't know man, it's just cool!"

(my apologies for the gendered language)

In the article I discuss how client-side frameworks affect the architecture of web applications.

In Modern Client-Side Times I explore what the client-side revolution means for the backend web framework.

I like writing retrospectives. If you like reading them, you can read my Seven Years: A Very Personal History of the Web, from 2017.

Open Source

In The importance of communication I tell the tale of how making lots of noise helped me in open source. I do make a lot of noise. I admit it can be a bit much. But it has also benefited me and it may benefit you.

I discuss how to handle ideas when they are offered to an open source project.

In a massive multi-part retrospective on the epic story of the rise and fall of Zope, I describe the evolution of that ancient web framework and my involvement in it. It's a story that's Dan Abramov Approved (tm)!

Names are important. I tell you how not to name software.

I also explain why I think open source projects shouldn't have "contrib" directories.

In 2015 I write about the history of reselect, a popular JS library I accidentally helped to call into existence.

Miscellaneous topics

On occasion I've also written about topics on my blog that aren't about software development.

In 2014's They say something I don't like so they must be lying! I observe how human behavior can make communities fight and how to compensate. The article ends like this:

Not everyone is well-intentioned. There are real liars, trolls, manipulators and psychopaths out there. There are those among us who want to try to fan the flames for their own amusement. I think being generous to others in our interpretations can reduce their power to do so. Maybe I'll talk a bit more about this in the future.

I haven't, yet. But it is, unfortunately, relevant.

Finally, in The Incredible Drifting Cyber I go into the wild evolution of the prefix cyber, and how it became unfun.


And this concludes the tour. I hope you enjoy reading some of my articles!


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