Insights about the app design and development ecosystem.

Opinion Development

How to build a web browser — Part 1: Specifications

Browsers are a complex piece of software: inside a web browser there are features comparable to a whole operating system. Every time I googled how to make a web browser, the answers were quite shallow, usually talking about how to consume some browser engine and make something on top of it. This article aims to walk through the whole process of making a web browser. On part 1, I’m going to talk about specifications.

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Using Docker Compose to easily scale your engineering team

Onboarding new developers in a project is always nice: they bring new ideas, different expertises and outside-the box thoughts. They tend to tackle problems and create solutions in a creative way, adding even more enthusiasm to the team. But before getting down to code, they need to set up their own development environment, which can easily become a headache.

Installing a local database, compiling the right program language version and solving library dependencies – possibly across different operating systems – are a few tasks inside this challenge.

Today I’ll introduce to you Docker and Compose – a container platform and its simple configuration tool – to help your team get up and running as fast as possible. Continue Reading

Opinion Development

Sharing code between platforms: my approach to ReactJS and React Native

Hybrid technologies have been employed for quite a while in mobile application development. Frameworks such as PhoneGap and Ionic come with an appealing motto: Develop once, run everywhere. And they actually do what they promise: you write a web-based app once and release it everywhere, from iOS to Android and the Gates of Mordor, as long as it gives support.

I do believe that they play an important role in the mobile app development scene: the huge community of web developers can write mobile app code and are able to deploy fast. But, in my opinion, the idea of developing one shared application for all platforms is dead per se.

That’s where React Native lands. It has a slightly different motto: Learn once, write everywhere. It might seem the same but with a closer look, you’ll spot the difference: it’s still JavaScript code, but with a dedicated one for each platform. And that changes everything. Each platform has its peculiarities and user expectations vary from one to another.

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Opinion Development

How I boosted my iOS development with Swift Libraries

As an iOS developer working at a startup focused in collaborative development, I’ve been involved in several projects so far, and most of them share common tasks such as downloading and caching images, performing network requests, and building Auto Layout views.

At first, I had a flow that I thought was good enough to accomplish these basic tasks (or any other, for that matter):

  1. Try to implement using the iOS SDK
  2. Get stuck at a problem that doesn’t have a straightforward solution
  3. Look up the solution on StackOverflow and implement it
  4. Move on to the next task

That seemed like a good flow at first, but got a bit tiresome in the long run – after all, nobody likes to hack for a living.

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3 simple steps to improve your React Redux code

Let’s face it: developing scalable front-end code isn’t piece of cake. No matter how well-structured the framework/architecture you’re using is, everything will be converted to ye olde HTML, CSS and (vanilla) JS.

Well, the good news is the open-source community already created solid frameworks (like AngularJS and ReactJS) to make your life incredibly easier, so you can work on high-level code and nevermind the hardcore stuff.

This brings up a new scenario, though – after getting used to building things the old-fashioned way (or not-so-old-fashioned, with tools like Backbone.js or Ember.js), you’ve decided to try what is trending on front-end development now: ReactJS, using the Redux architecture. You got excited with the possibilities this opens (and – oh my! – the ability to ditch jQuery once and for all), and, after working for a few weeks you realize that your code is a total mess.

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Opinion Development Design

Interdisciplinarity: the overlap between design and engineering

A common way to describe a product development process is with the DesignFront-endBack-end stack. This approach takes into account the disciplines involved on the process, and though it helps making things understandable, the distinction enforces the idea that the process is linear and phase-dependent.

This linear flow can also be defined as the waterfall model, and it’s rather common in the web industry. All pages are designed upfront, then a set of mockups are handed off to be translated into front-end code, and then, after all of that, the back-end logic is created. This causes an isolation of professionals on each phase, which leads to a series of implementation issues, mostly due to the difficulty of foreseeing all details and use cases on the early stages.

It also leads to the notion that there’s “my work” and “your work”. It’s not rare to hear developers saying: “Designers can’t touch my code!” or designers complaining that “The front-end developer messed up my layout!”. This creates barriers to the process. As obvious as it might sound, everyone is working towards the same goal: building outstanding products. And a more collaborative process is the way to achieve that.

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Opinion Development

You don’t need to code it: how I address common Android problems

Android is an awesome platform that enables you to impact millions of users, but, even after so many years in the market, there are still several basic problems that are still a pain to solve and haven’t been included in Android’s core Software Development Kit.

In order to solve these key problems, I’ll point some great tools and libraries – developed by the Android community – that are widely used and a breeze to work with. They  are all open source, available on GitHub and actively maintained. Now, let’s start!

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Process Opinion Development

Don’t blame the framework: my experience with AngularJS and ReactJS

In the past few years, websites have evolved into complex web applications, and what once was land of simple business informative pages, now is home to Facebook, Slack, Spotify and Netflix, changing the way you communicate, listen to music or watch movies. Front-end development has reached a new level and now requires more attention than it used to.

Just as for many front-end developers, our stack used to consist of HTML and jQuery. We would do AJAX requests to our backend, render the new chunk of UI on JavaScript and insert it into the DOM. User actions were tracked by binding events and callbacks to each of the elements. And don’t take me wrong: this is just fine for most applications.

However, when an application grows considerably, a couple of issues start being more frequent than expected: you forget to update all places where a value is displayed in the UI, no events are bound to the content added by AJAX, just to name some — this list can be very long. These are signs that your code is not maintainable, especially when developing together with a team. Using a front-end framework provides a formal way to write collaborative code that you can read, write and update.

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Opinion Development

iOS Project Architecture: Using VIPER

When developing an iOS app, it’s important to think about what iOS project architecture you should use. Most developers use the pattern suggested by Apple: the so-called MVC (Model-View-Controller) architecture. However, as well-established as it is, the MVC has its flaws.  For one, because of its simplicity, it leads even the most experienced engineers to put any code that doesn’t belong to a View nor to a Model in the Controller’s logic – generating huge chunks of code in the controller and really compact views and models.

In this post, we’ll present VIPER, one of the trending alternatives to MVC that might help you overcome its limitations while keeping your code modular and well-organized, improving your development process.

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Developing IoT apps: connecting to smart devices with Android

Internet of Things (IoT) is no longer something reserved for the future or limited to the realm of ideas. It is real and it’s begun to find its way into our homes turning lamps, locks, security cameras, and several other home appliances into smart devices controlled by your smartphone.

The crucial point, as a developer, is to know how to find and access these devices, allowing people to use this technology to its best extent. To help you in this process, this article lists some of the most popular approaches to finding and connecting to any device in your network when developing IoT apps, and presents some code snippets and examples to get you up and running in no time.

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