Learning to REST

Learning to REST Why REST Node.js and REST (coming soon!) Even Microsoft Takes a REST (coming soon!) Getting REST with Angular (coming soon!) CORS and REST Across Domains The word “REST” has become something of a buzzword in software developer circles lately.  It’s an architectural style (REpresentational State Transfer), that allows programming languages and development platforms to pass data back and forth over the web without complex protocols or a lot of overhead.  The simplicity and lightweight nature of REST  make it a great tool for a lot of web projects.  But old habits die hard. I work in a .Net programming shop, and I’ve noticed a pattern.  Actually, I’ve wandered the web in search of good code to learn from, and I’ve seen the pattern there too: programmers treat REST like it’s a new form of MVC (ASP.Net Model-View-Controller framework), or just another server-side implementation of AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript And XML).  Or worse yet, they treat it like a new flavor of WCF (Windows Communication Foundation).  It’s related to all of those things, but it isn’t those things. The pattern I see too much of comes from the MVC side of things.  In MVC you name your actions as part of the URL, and you rely primarily on HTTP’s GET and POST verbs.  So you’d GET someurl/user/dan and the framework would dish up some HTML that represents the “dan” user.  To update data to the framework you might have a method called “save” you could invoke by POSTing to someurl/user/dan/save.  In this scenario, any “action” that must be performed on the “dan” user would be specified as a method of the “user” controller....

Who We Work With

When I started my job as a software developer at my current employer, I noticed a few things.  First, everyone was smart and competent.  Second, they were nice, pleasant to work with, and got things done when they said they would. Third, almost everyone was a man. These Young Men are Actually the Good Old Boys The realization that I work in a male dominated field wasn’t a surprise.  I’m a classical and folk musician, and those are heavily male dominated as well.  But at least there’s an open conversation happening there, with notable in-roads by women into the elite orchestras.  If I consider the last 4 jobs that I’ve had in IT, I’ve never worked with a female developer. In the tech field, recruiting is an ongoing puzzle.  The short list of qualifications for a software engineer is that they’re smart and get things done.  Yet, as hard as it is to find people who fit that description, I think it falls short.  “Diverse” needs to be added to the equation, not bolted on at the end of the search. The problem is deeper though, since companies are recruiting college grads at the end of a very long pipeline- one that is slanted towards men and away from women.  Colleges (well, some colleges at least) are acknowledging the gender bias, and changing their programs and measures.  If you’ve ever worked at a college, you know that’s a really slow process.  And more to the point, an institution making changes isn’t the same as a teacher changing his stance on women in the sciences and applying it to the...

We’ve Been Had

I was raised on 80s movies, 80s music, 80s sensibilities.  I remember movies like Ferris Bueller, The Breakfast Club, and on and on.  Adults were one-dimensional foils for the real center of attention: us.  The kids were the real story. I was raised on that, and so were you.  I remember watching Scooby Doo and hearing the thwarted bad-guy say, “I’d have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!”  To me, those meddling kids were grownups, but it reinforced the idea that anything past childhood is sort of dead.  Grown ups put on zombie costumes to scare people away from the theme park so they can…  heck I don’t even know why.  But the “kids” were the good guys. Most of the adults I know now would probably not dress as a zombie just for the sake of scaring people.  The cool ones would.  But thank goodness there are other entertaining pursuits, like cooking, or riding my motorcycle, or going to a ballgame with friends.  Even working on my house is fun.  Until it isn’t, and then I go find some wine and a book. What I keep realizing is how awesome it is to not be a kid anymore.  Not only can I drink wine, and cook, and all the other things, I get to keep doing them.  I outgrew Scooby, but I get to do this stuff, the fun stuff, for as long as I want. I guess that’s why it’s so hard to watch TV shows where they glorify childhood.  Let’s admit: it was a mess, and life didn’t head downhill after...

Who Are These People

I remember a moment in a grocery store when I was in my 20s.  I was in the produce section and saw this strange looking lettuce-like item.  I thought to myself, “Who are these people who buy things like that, and how does the store sell enough to keep them on the shelves?”  Today I look at it and say, “Oh, they have bok choy, but it’s looking a little wilty and brown.”  I’ve become one of those people. In terms of inventory, bok choy isn’t a particularly adventurous item, but there are a whole range of items on the shelves that are.  For me though, the “adventurous” items are more likely in the snack-food aisle, or the breakfast cereal, or the juice case.  Now that I’ve become one of “those people” (ie. ones that can cook), I have to ask, “Who are the people who buy this stuff?” Some while ago I came up with a sort of test for what I eat.  I call it the Question Mark Test.  In short, the QMT is the number of questions I cannot answer (or don’t like the answer to) about a particular item in my cart.  For instance, I buy a lot of dried beans for cooking soup, hummus, Mexican (yum).  Ingredients: beans.  I’m pretty sure there are no questions here.  Maybe about where they were grown, how sustainably, and all that stuff.  But I don’t really have to worry if they were treated humanely or if they contain some Yellow #5 that will kill me in 30 years. On the flip side, there was that whole “Olestra” thing...