Confident Coding Report

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at Confident Coding in San Francisco. This was a one-day event for mostly front-end developers, covering the things everyone seems to know but which seem like silly questions to ask - and it has an all-female speaker lineup.
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Git Cheat Sheet

Today I thought I'd share my "cheat sheet" for git - the commands that I use on a day-to-day basis. I've used entirely the command line tools, since those are the same on every platform. GUI tools and IDE plugins are available for git so it is worth taking a look at what is available for the development environment you use.

Checkout/Clone

In git, you don't checkout code, you clone a repository. You end up with a local repository on your filesystem, which behaves as both the repo and as your working copy. In git, you always clone the whole repo, not a subdirectory, and the metadata is all stored at the top level, in a directory called .git.

When you are ready to clone the repo, create the directory to store it in and change into it. Then type:

git clone [url]

Here's an example, showing a clone of my private joind.in repo on github. Continue reading

Do Open Source with Git and Github

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 php|architect magazine.

Often I find absolutely competent programmers, who aren't involved in open source, either because they don't know how to approach a project, or because they just aren't sure how the process even works. In this article we'll look at one example, the conference feedback site joind.in, and how you can use GitHub to start contributing code to this project. Since so many projects are hosted on github, this will help you get started with other projects, too.

The tl;dr Version for the Impatient

  1. Fork the main repo so you have your own github repo for the project
  2. Clone your repo onto your development machine
  3. Create a branch
  4. Make changes, commit them
  5. Push your new branch to your github repository
  6. Open a pull request

This article goes through this process in more detail, so you will be able to work with git and github projects as you please.
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Skills Allied to PHP

This post is mostly about a tutorial I will be delivering at PHPNW on October 5th in Manchester, UK, and why I think a tutorial that contains no PHP belongs at a PHP conference

phpnw12 logoIn October, I'll be delivering a tutorial at the mighty PHPNW Conference which contains very little PHP. Why? Because I think, as developers, it's our other professional skills that suffer. As a consultant, I work with lots of different teams, and it is very rare for code to be the problem (and the one time it was, it wasn't the only problem!).

In web development, our biggest challenges are not writing code, we can do that. But getting the code safely from one place to another, with many people's work preserved, having our platform(s) correctly configured and understanding how to use them, making use of the tools in the ecosystem which will help us improve the quality of our code; these are the big challenges we face, and that's why I proposed this workshop and why I think all these topics are important. Continue reading

Monday Git Tips

One project I'm working on at the moment involves finding my way around changes in a codebase that isn't mine - and it's quite large. I was doing pretty well with a combination of git log and git show and in particular two of my favourite existing tricks:
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Pushing to Different Git Remotes

Just a quick tip because I'm working on a different git workflow at the moment with one of my clients, and it struck me that this usage pattern is something I don't usually write or speak about at all. Most git setups have one "main" repository, and either:

  • there is a gatekeeper that manages merging to here
  • all developers have write access

In this case, I'm working with the second option, so I'm pushing to the upstream repo. I'm also pushing to a live repository as well, so I thought I'd outline the commands I'm using. The setup here is the main github repo, and I have my own fork of that, which is cloned onto my laptop. I can push to both that main repo, which I'll call "upstream" (because the github documentation does and it makes sense!) and another repo that I'll call "live". All in all it looks something like this:


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We Don't Know Deployment: A 4-Step Remedy

Someone emailed me recently, having read my book and wanting some advice. Here's a snippet of his email:


So here's my problem.
We dont know deployment. We work from same copy on one test server through ftp and then upload live on FTP.

We have some small projects and some big collaborative projects.

We host all these projects on our local shared computer which we call test server.
All guys take code from it and return it there. We show our work to clients on that machine and then upload that work to live ftp.

Do you think this is a good scenario or do we make this machine a dev server and introduce a staging server for some projects as well?

I wrote him a reply with some suggestions (and my consulting rate) attached, and we had a little email exchange about some improvements that could fit in with the existing setup, both of the hardware and of the team skills. Then I started to think ... he probably isn't the only person who is wondering if there's a better way. So here's my advice, now with pictures! Continue reading

Speaking at Leeds PHP

On Monday 19th March I'll be speaking at PHP Leeds. The topic is all things git and github; as an open source project lead I see lots of very capable programmers taking their first steps with github. In this session we'll talk about how you can use these tools to contribute to open source (or your own projects, of course), covering both "what to click in the web interface" and "what to type at the command line" for git and github respectively. Come along if you want to know more about git, open source, or github!

Do-it-Yourself Peer Review

When I get asked about tools for quality assurance, I will pretty much always mention that the technology is not the answer. In my experience, the best improvements in quality come from process, from letting as many people as possible have access to all aspects of the system as early and often as possible (this is exactly why evolving projects "release early, release often"). A great tactic is to have another developer review each change - but what do you do if, like me, you work alone? Continue reading