Clean Code

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There’s a bunch of technical books sitting in my Amazon wishlist for quite some time. Poor books! They could not end up in my shopping cart for a myriad of reasons, laziness to read being chief amongst them.

The importance of reading technical books simply cannot be overstated. Or reading articles, for that matter. Reading is what helps you to improve your craft, keeps you up to speed with the topics you care about, makes you a better version of yourself in your desired skill. Personally, I’ve found books to be more useful than online courses. I have nothing against online learning, I’m all for it. I have end-to-end finished a tonne of courses on Udemy, Pluralsight, Coursera, etc. The things that go for me with books are that I can take them anywhere (even where there’s no Internet), highlight important parts, scribble my own thoughts and most importantly learn without distractions. The thing about books being little portable time machines is true.

Recently when I was casually digging my Twitter timeline, I came across this book called “Clean Code”. Someone had written life-changing praises about it. Out of nowhere, I decided to order. Out I went to Amazon.in, found the book, read a few reviews, noticed that there was no discount, and hit the Buy Now button.

Clean Code is a book about software craftsmanship. It’s a must-read for anyone who cares about their craft.

I am a little more than halfway through the book, and boy, it is life-changing. It’s written in an authoritative tone by a bunch of regarded software engineers with decades of development experience. The experience clearly shows! Chief among the authors of the book is Robert C. Martin, who is one of the founders and foremost popularizers of SOLID principles and Agile methodology. I have thoroughly enjoyed the book so far, and am looking forward to finishing it. It’s safe to say that this book has reignited my craving for technical books. Next up I’ll probably pick up a Martin Fowler.

Using the learned clean code principles, I was able to transform this ugly chunk of code at work in a beautiful verse below it. The code is customization on top of Sitecore‘s JSS Node Proxy open source program.

Which code snippet is easier to read?

Object.keys(tenants).forEach((key) => {
  const tenantName = tenants[key];
  const proxyConfig = config.initConfig(tenantName);

  server.post(
    `/:lang((${routesLangs}))/${tenantName}:paymentRoute((${intermediatePaymentRoutes}))`,
    bodyParser.urlencoded(),
    (req, res) => {
      handlePaymentIntermediateRoute({
        paymentData: req.body,
        path: req.params.paymentRoute,
        lang: req.params.lang || DEFAULT_LANG,
      }).then((svcData) => {
        proxyConfig.serverBundle.renderView(
          (param, html) => {
            res.send(html.html);
          },
          req.path,
          svcData,
          { userAgent: req.headers['user-agent'] }
        );
      });
    }
  );

  server.use(
    `/:lang((${routesLangs}))/${tenantName}([/].*)?`, // eg. /((en|ar))/yasisland/wishlist
    (req, res, next) => {
      if (req.originalUrl.indexOf('/-/media') === -1) {
        let originalUrl = req.originalUrl.replace(tenantName, '');
        originalUrl = originalUrl.replace('//', '/');
        req.originalUrl = originalUrl;
      }
      next();
    },
    scProxy(
      proxyConfig.serverBundle.renderView,
      proxyConfig,
      proxyConfig.serverBundle.parseRouteUrl
    )
  );
});
server.use(
  '*',
  (req, res, next) => {
    setPaymentRoutePreReqs(req, res, next);
  },
  (req, res, next) => {
    const envType = getEnvironmentType(req);
    const tenantName = getTenantName(envType, req);

    const paymentRoute = req.paymentRoute;
    if (paymentRoute) {
      handlePaymentRoute(req, res, tenantName, paymentRoute);
    } else {
      handleApplicationRoute(req, res, next, envType, tenantName);
    }
  }
);

Fixing headphone jack in Ubuntu 20.04

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As weird and funny as it may sound, Ubuntu isn’t able to play sounds on my laptop‘s 3.5mm headphone jack. Yes, the gentle, innocuous, innocent headphone jack that we all love and use. And mine’s not even a super-fancy laptop with uncommon hardware. It’s a Dell Inspiron 7000 series laptop with an Intel chipset. How more commonplace can things get than this?

After fiddling around for quite a bit, I was finally able to get it to work. I guess the issue has something to do with (the notorious?) PulseAudio.

Anyway, the trick for me was to use a little utility called hdajackretask. It’s part of the alsa-tools-gui package and helps you retask (remap or whatever) your PC’s audio ports (including internal speakers and HDMI). Read the documentation here (simple and fun): https://fossies.org/linux/alsa-tools/hdajackretask/README

Install it using this command:

sudo apt install alsa-tools-gui

Next, open the app from either command line (hdajackretask) or menu. Here’s my overriden configuration for reference (headphone, right side):

Hit Apply Now, and boom! Headphones are finally working. It’s important to note that this is not a silver bullet that will fix all jack-related sound issues. It just so happened in my case that retasking was necessary. I have to do it every time I plug in my headphones (even with the boot override installed). Weirdo, I know, but at least it works.

You may receive this error when you apply the overrides. I guess it’s totally fine to ignore it. It’s probably because of a restart of pulseaudio system. Things work despite the error.

Feels to weird that it’s 2020 and such retasking has to be done manually!

Note that getting my Bluetooth audio devices to work – especially my AirPods – remains a pain in the you-know-what.

How to deal with node_modules in a Dockerized Node application?

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There are tens of thousands of blogs, articles and forum threads out there on containerizing a Node.js application. We have everything from outright bad advices to informed and tested opinions. This short post is about a very specific aspect of Dockerinzing a Node app, something that is usually not addressed or given as an after-thought in these articles.

Once you have a Node app up and running in Docker, things are well until you – like all good developers – start adding or removing NPM packages. Nasty things happen, such as:

  • packages get installed on your local (host) filesystem but are not available inside the container
  • packages get installed on your container’s filesystem but are not available on your local
  • there’s a mismatch between versions of the same package in host and container
  • permission issues while installing or removing packages

All these can be solved by correctly using Docker volumes. A volume is basically a way to make parts of container’s filesystem available to host and vice-versa. Not understanding volumes properly may also lead to one of the issues listed above.

I had a similar experience in one of my projects. See the fix:
https://github.com/universalnative/un-website/commit/0eaaca98adac46bf9b1553e66d6acd9d731db43d

As noted in the stackoverflow answer cited in the commit:

When docker builds the image, the node_modules directory is created within the worker app directory, and all the dependencies are installed there. Then on runtime the worker app directory from outside docker is mounted into the docker instance (which does not have the installed node_modules), hiding the node_modules you just installed. You can verify this by removing the mounted volume from your docker-compose.yml.

https://stackoverflow.com/a/32785014/1775160

This is a powerful thing to remember. Once you know how volumes work, you’ll be able to better troubleshoot your Node app when things are wrong. For example, when I recently installed a new NPM package in my local I knew I had to do something like this to make it available inside the container as well:

https://github.com/universalnative/un-website/commit/3fa9c9a79c35a3ddbf39079d16b7dbca12105c0d#diff-4e5e90c6228fd48698d074241c2ba760

Why didn’t I just mount my host node_modules to container’s node_modules? Here’s the explanation:

An alternative approach is to mount host node_modules as a volume in container, but that will override container’s own node_modules folder with host’s. Keeping things independent allows for cleaner and easier troubleshooting of installed/missing packages.

This the approach I prefer, which of course is not certified gold. I works for me well. Besides, yarn installing packages each time container comes up does so incrementally (only new packages are fetched and installed). A win-win 🙂

Hello, Deno

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Deno v1 is here, and so is my experiment. Unlike my usual first programs, this one is a bit better than a pure “Hello, world”. So not only it is a meaningful program (does not literally print out “hello world”), it also has data models, unit tests and CI integration (Travis).

From its documentation:

A super-simple Deno app that pulls (from an API) national COVID-19 stats for India, and displays the total count of people who have recovered from the disease till yesterday.

What else did you expect? Let’s spread some positivity in tough times!

Check it out here and let me know your thoughts (if you exist):

https://github.com/anuragbhd/hello-deno

Btw, this is the best damn geeky one-liner code to explain what is Deno. Totally cool.