Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Learning from Kent Beck

Here's a great post that I'm sure others have seen and posted. Three guys had the opportunity to do some prototyping with Kent Beck, the creator of TDD and thankfully, one of them, documented it. I haven't ready Kent's implementation patterns book

The entire post is very long and detailed but I wanted to post some key takeaways as they apply to pretty much any project.

Make your code readable.  "Code is primarily means of communication."

KISS. "Apply simplicity at all levels."

Flexibility "Programs should be flexible in the ways they change, they should make common changes easy or at least easier. "

Approaches to coding. When thinking about Agile, people start creating sprints of 2 weeks or less. When prototyping, an even quicker sprint came up - "what would be the demo we would like to show at the end of the day. And his next question was what test to write."

Write tests that test needed functionality, at a high or unit level. "Speculating about failure points can be just as wasteful as speculating about design."

Write Code in the Test, then Refactor. (I know, think about it. I actually started doing this when I was first learning TDD and thought - "is this really what I'm supposed to do?") " Instead of thinking about how it should be organized (what classes to create, where to put them, whether to use a factory class or a factory method), why not initially write the code directly in the test method? You can always factor out the code later."

Focus on one thing at the given time. " If you notice along the way something else that needs to be done – giving a method a better name, removing a dead code, fixing an unrelated bug – don’t do it, put it on a task list and do it later. "

Symmetry in Code. "Symmetry in code is where the same idea is expressed the same way everywhere it appears in the code."

The entire post is a great read.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Awesome Tech Conference + Tablet = Great Reason to Register

Doug Hennig and Rick Schummer just posted about Southwest Fox's new registration incentive. Pre-register before July 1st, and you may win a Samsung Galaxy, iPad or Kindle Fire - something to suit your needs whether you be an Android, iOS or just an avid reader.

With pre-registration, you also get a pre/post con and a chance for $150 scholarship or Stonefield Query . Last year, there weren't a lot of pre-July 1 registrations so the chances of winning are HUGE!!!

As an aside, one of the sponsors of SW Fox is Lianja and I recently had an opportunity to talk with its founder and will be sharing that interview on the FoxShow later this week.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Bit by a 7 year old Internet Explorer bug, er, feature

I arrived on the client's floor and didn't even have a chance to walk into the office.
"Stop everything - we need to solve this problem"

Sounds serious.

After deploying an existing ASP.Net application to a new server, a basic run-through test is typically done, making sure that everything is working. This time, however, nothing would work. The site would load, but as soon as the user did anything, it would return them to the launch page. We tried a different site and it worked fine. So it must be the configuration of IIS --- that was the general consensus.

What was happening was that the session variables used in the application were simply not being registered. So if you issued a Session("Variable") = "Andrew", it didn't error out but it also didn't set the variable.

But it wasn't. The kicker came when we installed Chrome and tried the site - it worked fine!
Now, I'm a big fan of browsers but I don't think the solution to a problem is always "switch to ...." (unless it's IE 6).

StackOverflow to the rescue - I found this link - which seemed to describe the problem - "ie8-does-not-keep-session-variables".

Then in the comments was this innocent little note:
Blocking cookies when the host contains underscores is a known issue in IE.– EricLaw -MSFT- May 27 '11 at 20:03

As it turns out, it's not just a "known issue", according to the KB article:
"A potential security vulnerability exists in Internet Explorer versions 5.5 and 6.0 in which a malicious user could create a URL that allows a Web site to gain unauthorized access to cookies that are stored on a client computer and then (potentially) modify the values that are contained in these cookies."

IE 5.5 and 6 --- the actual KB article is from 2005.  So it must have been fixed, right? It seems kind of strange that every other browser doesn't have this issue, except ----


This behavior is by design.

The problem? The testing server was named with an underscore in it.

The workaround:
To work around this problem, use one of the following methods:
  • Rename the domain name and the server name, and use only alphanumeric characters.
  • Browse to the server by using the Internet Protocol (IP) address rather than the domain/server name.

Renaming the server name is something that every sys admin loves to do.

Thankfully, the testing could proceed with the IP address.

This is the first time I've ever come across this problem - but then again, I don't typically name servers with an underscore in it. But having been bit once, you can bet I'll be on the lookout.

What old bugs have you been bitten by?