React Native

There are tons of hyped-up claims surrounding React Native that are worth addressing.

The reasons why companies run for React Native are usually,

  1. We already use Javascript for the website and now, we can build apps in that as well.
  2. We can use one codebase for Android, iOS, and web apps. Or at least, Android and iOS apps.
  3. Facebook uses it

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Android: Catching NDK crashes

On Android catching Java exceptions is easy via UncaughtExceptionHandler. Catching NDK crashes is a bit more convoluted. Since the native stack is probably corrupted, you want the crash handler to run on a separate process. Also, since the system might be in an unstable shape, don’t send the crash report to your web server or do anything fancy. Just write the crash report to a file, and on the next restart of the app, send to your web server and delete it from the disk. I ended up using jndcrash package for this.

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Docker: Be careful about the scratch image

After I wrote my previous post, some suggested that I can cut down the image size further by using a “scratch” image. And that’s true, “scratch i”s a reserved 0-sized image with nothing in it. And utilizing a scratch binary image did cut down the size of the final Docker image from 13MB to 7.5MB. Pretty good, right? Except the image cannot do an SSL cert verification because of the missing SSL certs!!!

Failed to reach google.com: Get https://google.com: x509: certificate signed by unknown authority

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Indeterminate Progress bar is an inferior UX design

60 milliseconds is when we notice something isn’t immediate. Any user interaction, that involves sending data over the network or doing heavy computation on it, usually takes way longer than 60 milliseconds. So, we end with a progress bar. There are two broad categories of progress bars, one that shows the absolute/relative progress, a determinate progress bar, and one that does not an indeterminate progress bar.

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How many source-code repositories should a startup have

Recently, this question came up during the discussion. “How many source-code repositories should a startup have?”

There are two extreme answers, a single monorepo for all the code or repository for each library/microservice. Uber, for example, had 8000 git repositories with only 200 engineers! I think both extremes are wrong. Too many repositories make it hard to find code and one single repository makes it harder to do simple things like testing, bisecting (to find buggy commit), deciding repository owners.

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The two-step approach to big code modifications

We all have to make significant code changes from time to time. Most of these code changes are large. Consider the scenario that you merged one such significant change, and then other team members made a few more changes on top. Then a major bug is detected. You desperately make the fix. It makes it in. You declare a victory, and a few hours later, your colleague notices another bug/crash/performance regression. Your commit cannot be reverted. It isn’t just about you. Many others have built on top of the change you madeā€”the code sloths along in this broken state for a few days before you eventually fix it. Everyone has faced this issue at some point or the other.

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Incremental testing: save time and money on CI for monorepo

To use monorepo or not is an eternal debate. Each has its pros and cons. Let’s say you decide to go with monorepo, one major issue you will face over time is slow testing. Imagine a monorepo, consisting of an Android app, an iOS app, some backend code, some web frontend code. On only very few occasions will someone modify more than one of those simultaneously.

Further, most of these projects confined to their directories would be using different build systems as well, for example, gradle for Android, yarn/npm for Javascript, go/rust/java/npm for the backend. The total build time and test time will only grow over time. It annoys developers making small modifications to their part of the codebase. And it slows down the development velocity drastically.

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How to deploy side projects as web services for free

In 2020, the web is still the most accessible permission-less platform. For the past few months, I have been playing and building side-projects to simplify my life. I started with a Calendar Bot for scheduling events, DeckSaver for downloading decks from Docsend, AutoSnoozer for email management, and StayInTouch for maintaining follow-ups.

When I started on this journey, I had the following in my mind.

  1. Cost of domain ~ 12$ a year or 1$ a month
  2. Cost of a VM ~ 10$ a month

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Docker 101: A basic web-server displaying hello world

A basic webserver

Docker containers are small OS images in themselves which one can deploy and run without worrying about dependencies or interoperability. All the dependencies are packed in the same container file. And the docker runtime takes care of the interoperability. You are not tied to using a single language or framework. You can write code in Python, Go, Java, Node.js, or any of your favorite languages and pack it in a container.

Consider a simple example of a Go-based webserver

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