Work Projects

TechFest Fall 2018

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The kind organizers of Houston TechFest recently announced the speakers. I am pleased report I am among their number! I am stoked for the event, and will be presenting on the following:
  1. Designing and Running Effective Meeting
    • Do meeting at your company drag on and on and on… ? Do you wish they’d get to the point already? Have you ever had to have a meeting after the meeting to make the real decisions? What if there was a way to fix this broken process? What if we could make meetings effective again? Come learn some guiding principles to help make your meetings more effective, and not just the ones you lead! Tips include how to organize your meeting, how to help ensure decisions are made, and suggestions for follow-ups to communicate the decisions, so they don’t die in the meeting!
  2. Web UI Testing? Yes, You can! – Co-presenting with Claudio Lassala
    • Those back-end guys really seem bought into this TDD idea. What with their interface mocking and SOLID design principles. But is such a thing even possible in the Front-End? Besides everyone knows UI tests are painfully slow!
    • Guess what ?! Not only can TDD be used in the Front-End, it will improve your designs, just like it does in the back-end. What’s more is you can do with without having to write laboriously slow UI tests! Come learn how to improve the design of your React Components and Redux Store using TDD Best practices, and see why mocking is even easier in Javascript than it is in C#!
  3. Demystifying the Whiteboard Interview
    • Its no secret that Whiteboard interviews are widely panned by the industry. Just as well known is that you will inevitably have to face one every-time you interview. But why? There must be some pattern or principle that can be learned to make the process less unpleasant, right? Indeed there is! Come learn some simple steps and tool you can use to improve your next whiteboarding interview!
Looking forward to seeing you all there! More information on the conference is available at their website. And don’t forget to pre-register!
P.S. If you haven’t seen Claudio speak, I highly recommend attending one of his User Group presentations! Plus his blog has some great stuff too!
TodayILearned, Work Projects

TIL… How to use Map and Reduce

While working on a React app, I needed to translate a bit of Redux shape into one needed by an Api. Due to the normalization we imposed on the Redux state, I had to navigate to the desired information through s couple of lists. These entities each had a list of ids of children, and I needed the grand-children of a given entity.

Instead of manually composing this list, I found map and reduce were far better suited to the task, as you might imagine. In order to get the list of grandchildren, I first mapped the list of children ids to a list of lists of grand-child ids. These lists were accessed through the children. Then I took the list of lists and reduced it , effectively merging it into a single, long list of all grandchildren. Helpful hit, always include an initial value for the list. It helps avoid bugs when inputs are empty. Finally I mapped the list of grand-child ids to the grandchildren themselves.

As an experiment I did try to manually iterate through the lists without Map and reduce, and found that those three lines replaced something like 12-15 lines. Further, the 12-15 line code was… obtuse at best. Got to love it when succinct code is also easier to understand.

TodayILearned, Work Projects

TIL… Combine Reducers also splits state…

While starting work on a greenfield project, I was of course writing new reducers. This time, we were trying to follow a better paradigm as outlined here. As it happens I was writing the byId reducer for an action when I learned a wonderful, simplifying fact.

As you know Reducers take current state and an action, returning a modified state. But what is the state handed to the function? As it turns out, CombineReducers, also splits out the relevant part of state for the given reducers.

For example, take the following Redux State:

root :

If you compose root from an entities and uiState reducer, then the entities reducer gets only the entities part of state. Going deeper you can similarly compose the entities reducer from item, thing and box. The item reducer will only get the item part of state, and will not see anything related to thing or box.

As a result of this behavior, you can write very simple reducers. And of course it is super easy to write tests for reducers composed in this manner.

TodayILearned, Work Projects

TIL… How to handle User input with a generic function

While writing a CRUD screen with validation in React, I found I was writing similar, if not the same state-altering functions for each input box. Some functions needed additional validation while others did not. After discussing some team-members, the suggestion was made to use the following:

handleUserInput(e) {
   const name =;
   const value =;
   this.setState({ [name]: value });
Paired with code like this for the inputs:
Then just set the name property on the tag to the same property name in state.
TodayILearned, Work Projects

TIL… How to delete a property from a javascript object

While working in a reducer, I found I needed to close/remove an entry from a dictionary. After a brief amount of digging I found that I did not have to write this functionality myself.

The kind folk of Lodash have you covered. Simple _omit_ the property. Like so:

import omit from 'lodash/omit'

default export (object)=>omit(object,removedKey);

Lodash/Omit kindly returns a new object, omitting the given key.

TodayILearned, Work Projects

TIL… How to reduce NPM package size

One of my colleagues was working on improving the load time for a heavy-lifting component in our React App. The component is packaged as an npm package so that it can be reused in other projects, but it is significant in size.

My colleague showed me a nice visual tool for identifying packages in the dependencies which could be shrunk or removed. He added a plug-in to our webpack build which provided a useful visualization of the package structure and hierarchy.

To do this you need to add the following to the webpack.config:

const { BundleAnalyzerPlugin } = require(‘webpack-bundle-analyzer’);
config.plugins.push(new BundleAnalyzerPlugin());
You’ll also need to install the webpack-bundle-analyzer package.
Using this tool we were able to see that some of the large size was due to duplications of modules. That is the user project, and the project we were working on shared dependencies.
My colleague solved this in two ways, first he removed the Node Modules folder from web-pack, thus removing it from the final bundle. Second, he made sure that the project we were improving, and the user project shared the same version of as many dependencies as possible. By doing so my colleague was able to greatly improving the loading time for this npm package.
TodayILearned, Work Projects

TIL… How to add Raygun to a React App

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We were preparing to roll-out our brand spanking-new React App. Naturally once our app is out in the wild we wanted to have telemetry on it. The client’s go-to telemetry provider was Raygun.I was blessed and impressed with how excellent Raygun’s documentation was!

It was so accurate and easy to follow, I can’t put it in better words myself. However I did run into one sticky issue while integrating. Specifically, integrating the React-Router pages and Raygun’s page-view logging. To be sure, Raygun provides a good method for doing this, one simply adds a listener to the props.history object provided by React-Router.

Prior to using Raygun the app relied on BrowserRouter, which creates a history object under the hoop. But the Router object allows the developer to provide a history object. So the easiest way to attach the Raygun listener is to call createBrowserHistory, and then attach to the history object before giving it to the Router. Also if you are using a baseUrlName in you app, be sure to pass that to the createBrowserHistory call!

TodayILearned, Work Projects

TIL… How to manually redirect within React-Router

While working on a SPA react application, I noticed that every time I returned from one screen to the first, I was resetting the Redux state. Given we were using React-Router to handle ‘pseudo’ links, I was very confused.

As it turns out, the way I was redirecting was the culprit. The SPA was supported by an MVC controller, and route. Since we were using React-Router, we had a catch-all route so that the controller would still render the same action despite route changes.

Normally, routes are changed within the SPA using RouterLink or similar constructs. Since my redirect was happening as part of an action I was changing the window.history. That was what caused the problem.

I found later that I was causing the browser to fix a new request to the server, rather than relying on the React-Router to determine the course. Thankfully, components rendered by a Router receive a prop called history. This props.history is managed by the React-Router, and pushing to it will cause the Router to handle the redirect, thus preserving the Redux state.

TodayILearned, Work Projects

TIL… Another way that IE is ‘special’

Today I learned another way in which InternetExplorer is ‘special’. One of my team-mates was hunting down a bug in a recent project of ours. A critical link on the page was not working in IE. Strange thing was that Chrome was able to handle it just fine.

Turns out the link had use back-slashes(\) rather than forward-slash(/) after the link protocol. As a result IE was unable to redirect to the next page properly.

The solution was simple enough, swap the \ with / and viola IE is happy again. Oh the joys of milti-browser support 😛

TodayILearned, Work Projects

TIL… ASP.Net Form Validation Easy-Mode

Today I learned there is an easy-mode for form validation in ASP.NET! I was creating a series of CRUD pages for our in-house admin system, for entering a new data-type. This of course meant adding a new view for creating said data.

I mentioned in passing to a team-mate that there had to be a better way that manually validating every property and providing a response model with an error property for each entry, or worse a generic error list displayed randomly at the top of the page like other parts of the admin tool.

To my delight, there was a better way. ‘Easy-mode’ it actually a decorator called DataAnnotations. Further you can check on the complete Validation-State of the model by called ModelSate.IsValid ( which is MVC magic), and further you can show the set of errors by rendering the summary on the view with Html.ValidationSummary ( which is also MVC magic).