Brendan Enrick

Daily Software Development

Drag Drop Repo - GitHub Tips 5

I’ve got a Pluralsight course about using GitHub that went live on Tuesday, so I thought I would post a few quick tips to help anyone using GitHub or GitHub for Windows and also promote my course.

There are a ton of ways to get a repository into GitHub for Windows to use it to manage your repository. I go over all of these in my Pluralsight course, but one of the neatest ways to add a repository is to just drag and drop the folder or the page.

You literally just need to go to the folder in explorer and drag the folder into GitHub for Windows.

DragFolderToCreate

Once you’ve dragged the folder in, it will bring up this “Create” context menu if it’s not already a repository. This will also call “git init” on the folder, so it becomes a repository.

AfterDragging

Once it’s done, you’ll have a repository. It will commit an initial .gitattributes and .gitignore file for you.

AfterDragAndCreated

If you already have a repository on GitHub, you can drag the URL into GitHub for Windows.

DragDropBrowserUrl

Once you drag it in, GitHub for Windows may want to know where to store the local copy. Just choose a location for it.

DragDropBrowserUrlChooseFolder

After it is done cloning the repository, you’ll have a local, connected copy.

DragDropBrowserUrlCloned

I hope these little tricks make it easier for you to set up repositories with GitHub for Windows, and if you want to learn more about GitHub, check out my Pluralsight course.

Open Shell Here - GitHub Tips 4

I’ve got a Pluralsight course about using GitHub that went live on Tuesday, so I thought I would post a few quick tips to help anyone using GitHub or GitHub for Windows and also promote my course.

When you need to use the command line, it’s nice to open it right in your repository instead of having to “cd” your way there. When you’re in GitHub for Windows, you can use the Tools context menu to “Open Shell” like this:

OpenGitShellContextMenu

Once open, you’re in a git shell in your repository with context-aware information to help you complete your task.

GitShellOpenInRepo

I hope this quick tip is useful for you, and if you’d like to learn more about GitHub and GitHub for Windows, please check out my Pluralsight course.

Two Factor Auth - GitHub Tips 3

I’ve got a Pluralsight course about using GitHub that went live yesterday, so I thought I would post a few quick tips to help anyone using GitHub or GitHub for Windows and also promote my course.

One of the main concerns that I hear from businesses about hosting their code off-site is security. While nothing can ever be “completely secure”, you can help yourself a little bit by enabling two factor authentication in GitHub. It uses most two factor authentication apps, so you can set up any device as the second key.

Once you’ve got it set up, GitHub for Windows will even prompt you for that auth token after you type your password. Annoying to have an extra step? Yes. More secure? Yes.

GitHubTwoFactorAuth

I hope that tip helps someone keep their GitHub account safer, and if you want to learn more about GitHub, please check out my Pluralsight course.

Descriptive Icons - GitHub Tips 2

I’ve got a Pluralsight course about using GitHub that went live today, so I thought I would post a few quick tips to help anyone using GitHub or GitHub for Windows and also promote my course.

When you’re running in GitHub or GitHub for Windows, you’ll see some icons that are near the repository name. These tell you a bit about the repository. They can indicate that a repository is a GitHub repository, non-GitHub repository, or a fork of a GitHub repository. They’ll be here when you’re running GitHub for Windows.

HighlightGitHubIcons

This icon indicates a GitHub repository:

GitHubIcon

This icon indicates a forked GitHub repository:

ForkedIcon

This icon indicates a repository that is either local-only or connected to a different remote (not GitHub):

LocalOrOtherRemoteIcon

I hope you find this quick tip useful. If you want to learn more about GitHub and GitHub for Windows, please check out my Pluralsight course!

Enter To Commit - GitHub Tips 1

I’ve got a Pluralsight course about using GitHub that will be going live this Tuesday, so I thought I would post a few quick tips to help anyone using GitHub or GitHub for Windows and also promote my course.

I thought I would start out these posts with a very simple time saver. When you’re typing your commit message, you can just click enter to commit your changes.

Click Enter To Commit

If you’re including additional information in a description, clicking enter will just give you a new line like so.

 EnterNewLineDescription

I hope knowing this will keep you from having to move your hands from your keyboard, and if you want to learn more about GitHub, check out my GitHub course! This tip is not mentioned in my course, so you’ll need to watch it to learn more.

My New Development Setup

I’ve been working as a developer for quite a few years now, and I’ve had a number of different setups and development rigs. Laptops, desktops, pairing stations, etc. have all been my tools over the years. They all get the job done, some pieces work better than others though. Here is a look at what I am using now.

Desktop Overall

When I started working from home, I wanted to make sure that I bought a simple desk to be distinct from my non-work desk. I bought this desk, since it was relatively inexpensive and I wasn’t sure how long I would be working from home. I am of course hoping to grow a team in my area. So far, the desk and set up have been working well.

Yoga2Pro

This is not an intentional selfie. It’s just a picture of the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro that I’ve been using for development. I was a bit concerned at first, since I am used to using development desktop computers. It’s worked well for me so far. I am not sure if I will need more than the 256GB SSD, but I’ve got plenty of space even with all of my development tools installed. I’ve not had any performance issues, but I am not working on projects with long build times.

Probably the coolest thing that I was issued when joining Clear Measure, was my docking station. I am used to placing my laptop on a docking station using a special docking port on the laptop bottom.

DynaDock

This docking station was super easy to set up and runs both of my monitors, keyboard, mouse, headset, Internet, and I just have to plug in 1 USB cable when I set the laptop down. It’s called a Dynadock, and is a bit more expensive than I would like. It works though! I can even plug in speakers, though I don’t use any. Headsets work better for calls than speakers, so I use these.

HeadsetStation

This is the cable to recharge my headset, and it nicely coils around this station with the wireless dongle plugging into the top.

Logitech-G930-Wireless-Headset

This is my Logitech G930 headset that I’ve been using for all of my video calls. It works great, fits comfortably and has very clear audio for me and everyone listening to me. I’ve had to unmute a couple of times and it will turn off automatically if you’re not using it for a while. I’ve run into that a few times with James Shaw on the call. He gets a good laugh about it. The headset is super comfortable, so I’ve got no complaints.

MouseAndPad

I like a high DPI Logitech G400 mouse, so I can quickly move the cursor while barely moving my mouse. This mouse is adjustable, so I keep it as high as possible. I’ve got others with these types of features, but this one is more comfortable and remembers the high DPI setting. On my others, I have to turn up the DPI setting after booting my computer.

You may also notice my highly stylish Pluralsight mouse pad. I’ve got a course that will be coming out soon.

StirTrekFlashDrive

One of many reasons I am glad to live in Ohio is that I am able to make it to Stir Trek every year. It’s a great annual conference in Columbus. It takes place in a movie theater, and is wrapped up by a movie. I have a bunch of these USB keys from them, and I keep one on my desk for quick, sneakernet transfers.

Moleskine-Pen-Notepad

I don’t know about you, but some things just need to be written on paper. I’m not a tablet and stylus user, so I grab this fancy Lake Quincy Media pen and write quick notes on this pad of paper or on my Moleskine notebook if it’s something more permanent.

AspAllianceCoaster

Speaking of swag that I have around, I’ve got this nice ASP Alliance coaster that I use. I’m a former ASP Alliance author, editor, and developer. I haven’t written articles for them in years, but I do have some nice swag from my time working there.

WindowAirConditioning

The last thing I want to point out about my setup is this window AC unit that I have in place to regulate the temperature in my office. Yes, I have central air conditioning in my house, but I often keep my door closed. My cat is a bit of a trouble maker, so I only occasionally allow him in. My south facing windows also keep the room warmer than the rest of the house with me, computer, and nowhere for the air to go. I also love keeping it quite cool while I work.

Flags Over Objects

If you didn’t notice it, our “flag” month was the same month as Independence Day in the United States. We celebrate that day with flags, fireworks, and a lot of cookouts. Notice anything in the picture? Yep. We’re missing the fireworks. Anyway, the topic of Flags Over Objects is an important one.

Flags Over Objects is the Software Craftsmanship Calendar’s anti-pattern topic in July 2014. As a developer, I am sure that you’ve come across code where boolean values (flags) were used far too much. This is often a misuse of state. Plenty of times there is a better, simpler way of handling the state of objects.

Flags_Over_Objects_July_2014

In this image, you might notice (looking carefully) a few obvious (and common) issues with using flags. First, you’ve got a whole list of checkboxes even though some of those can only ever be one at a time. You might also notice that there are a lot of repeats of the same checkbox.

Are you using this anti-pattern anywhere?

Join Our Team

You are correct. I don’t usually do recruiting posts on my blog, however, I am guessing that my blog readers are people who might be interested in working with me. I joined Clear Measure a couple of months ago, which is a company started by Jeffrey Palermo and Mark Stavrou. Primarily based in Austin, we are starting to build a pocket of developers in Northeast Ohio. Our team up here is currently remote, but we are hoping to get enough people to merit some suburban office space for our team.

Let me know if you’re in the Northeast Ohio area and want to play buzzword bingo with this card:

Buzzword Bingo

We all love buzzword bingo! Right? right?

You can always check here for Clear Measure’s current openings. Even when we don’t have a listed position open, contact me anyway, because I firmly believe that a company should always be hiring. The best people don’t come along every day. That’s how I ended up working with Todd Ropog and Kevin Kuebler years ago. They were the right people to join NimblePros. 

Assumption Driven Coding

As software developers, we have to make a lot of assumptions about things. It goes with the territory, however, we try to avoid making assumptions whenever we can. One of the values that we hold up is Communication, and that means that we need to communicate with our users. June 2014 is Assumption Driven Coding month according to the 2014 Software Craftsmanship Calendar Anti-Patterns edition.

The calendar (as always) takes a more visual approach to this software development issue.

Assumption_Driven_Programming_Jun_2014

Obviously, we’re supposed to notice that Eric is missing a hand, so he cannot use this newly installed palm scanner. Whoever decided to put in this new interface should have thought of a backup system for Eric or used a different authorization mechanism.

If we step back and think of this in terms of software, we’re talking about making an assumption about our users, data, or how interaction with the system will happen. An example of this would be assuming that your users “all use the start menu”, “all search for programs”, “all use the quick launch bar”, or “all use the desktop”. Each of those is an assumption that Microsoft could make when developing its next version of Windows. Each of those assumptions would be a bad one. Heck, even assuming that I named all of the possibilities already is a really bad assumption. What if someone uses “Run” or PowerShell?

When we’re writing our software, we take a lot of guesses about how the users will use our systems. Don’t! As you’re building, watch them use it. See how they use the system. Ask the user to perform their daily routine in the new software and see what they do. Ask them some questions. And make sure that you check different types of users. Sure, you will not catch every case, but you can avoid a lot of headaches. You might not even have realized that certain users would use the feature you’re building if you don’t ask.

Let’s focus on avoiding this issue for the rest of June.

SPOILER ALERT: Eric has both a right hand and a left hand… This photo is fake.

Being a Leader

I started my career as a software developer, because I love computers and I love building things. Building software, no matter the type of involvement, is an experience worth working toward. There are few things that can provide as much joy in such a short amount of time than seeing the text you’ve written come alive. In the last 5 years of my software development career, however, I’ve been leading teams of developers rather than just typing the lines of code that go into the software. Working with a team and building great things together is something I love regardless of the type of contribution I am making.

Now that I am transitioning back (at least for a time) into a primarily development role, I want to take some time and reflect on that change. I have enjoyed all of the work that I have done in my career, and I look forward to many more years building great things with great people.

I will never stop writing code. It’s too much fun to give up completely, but I also love people and working with people. For that reason, I enjoy leading teams of developers as well. I’ve spent these past 5 years trying to improve my leadership, not just for my own benefit, but for the benefit of my teams and the software we create. As many of you know, I blog so that I can share what I’ve learned with everyone (including my future self).  Let’s talk about leadership.

Know Your Team

As a leader, it’s important that you know your team’s strengths as well as their weaknesses. This is not exactly a radical idea, but it’s one that I’ve seen ignored far too often. Every member of your team has goals, opinions, preferences, etc. They’re people. If you don’t know anything about them, you’re not leading your team. The best experiences I’ve had as a leader are always when I am communicating and soliciting feedback and ideas from everyone involved.

I make a point of getting to know my team. I make sure to lighten the mood, so I can meet the professionals as well as the people they are. If I know that certain people have tendencies toward certain things, that allows me to lead them better. It’s my job to make sure that they’re doing their job well and are happy about it.

A good friend of mine, Steve Smith, recently took on the role of CTO of Falafel Software, and I was chatting with him about that new role. He was commenting about getting to know his team and having discussions with them. I suggested he spend an hour or two pair programming with everyone he’ll be working with. This gives him the chance to talk with them and also learn how they like to work. It comes with a couple of very important benefits: it lets Steve write some code and it also lets him learn about the projects.

Know Your Projects

One of the most frustrating things as a developer is having to constantly explain and re-explain a project to a manager. Don’t be that guy. Make sure you know the project. You’re involved. Sure, you need to talk and ask about how things are going, but you should understand what’s being done. You’re not there to tell people what to do. You’re there to help people get those things done.

If you need to sit down and pair with your team, do it! Sit with the designers and help them design. Sit with the developers and help them code. Work with the team. You’re a part of the team.

When I am leading a team, I am with the team. I’m only in my office when I need a quiet space. The rest of my time, I am sitting right next to the team. If I roll my chair back, I’m bumping into a developer or a designer. That’s my ideal situation. When anything happens in the project, I need to at least be aware about it, and constantly pestering my team for status updates is not an appropriate way to do that. It wastes their time and reiterates that my time is more valuable than theirs (completely false).

Solicit Feedback

Clearly, before I make a decision, it’s a good idea to make sure that the team has a chance to weigh in on things. When you are a leader, it is likely not a democracy. Make sure you know that and make sure the team knows that. If a decision I make will impact the team, I at least alert them to it before the decision is made. This gives the chance for cries of outrage. More often, I prefer to actually have a quick discussion before making my decision.

One topic that comes up all too often is physical versus digital kanban boards. This often has to do with the circumstances of the project. Obviously if everyone involved in the project is in the same room, a physical kanban board has a lot of benefits, but if you’ve got a single remote user, you’ll lean the other way. I’ve had a few developers with strong opinions one way or the other, so I try to accommodate when I can. I know which to use for each project because of the developers who are on them, because I get to know my team.

Asking for feedback allows the team involvement in the decisions and gives them some stake in things. Make sure you’re listening and taking their suggestions to hear. I know that I never know the best approach from the start. I chose my team, because they’re smart and can help me make the right choices. Often the right choice is based on the team, so you really should ask the team.

Identify Leaders

As a leader, you need to help other leaders become better leaders. Often leadership qualities are on your team. That’s great for you! Let them take on some leadership. Give them the chance to lead some discussions, meetings, projects, etc. It will help them (and the team) to build great things. Sharing responsibilities with others will let you focus more, and will let them grow as leaders. You’ll need peers to help you lead others and people to cover for you when you’re busy or out of town.

Your team is often better at leading than you (or they) might expect. A leader who has never had the chance to lead may not know they can. If you can identify and grow leadership in your team, you will have empowered your team to make good decisions. The more your team can do on their own, the more you (and the entire team) are able to accomplish. Build more. Build better. Build the leadership in your team. It’s there already. You just need to find it and grow it.

Lead the Team

Yes, this also sounds kind of silly to mention here, but I am serious. There is a big difference between leading and directing. If you’re leading, you’re out front blazing a trail. If you’re directing, managing, or even guiding, you don’t have to be out front. When you’re leading a team, you’re setting examples. You’re doing things the right way (whatever that is for your project). You’re not cutting corners or doing a sloppy job. It’s your job to not only help, but to make sure that everyone else can follow in your footsteps to achieve success.

How you lead a team is extremely important. If you cut corners, your team will as well. If you have a sour attitude about the project, that will spread. If you’re lethargic and bored by the project, you won’t be seeing an interested, engaged team. Be the team you want your team to be. If you don’t you can’t expect any better from anyone else. This doesn’t mean you need to be the best developer, designer, tester, copy-editor, or anything else. You just need to be willing to put forth good, positive effort. You’ll be amazed at the results. When I do that right with a project, I am always impressed with how the whole teams steps up to every challenge. Whenever I’ve cut a corner, I see it repeated. It’s just not worth doing.

Set an example. Be a leader to emulate. Stay positive. Keep things moving smoothly. That is your job. Leading is hard. Doing it right is harder, but it’s very worth it. If you do it right, your team will do amazing work that will have you in awe. With that said, I’d like to thank all of the developers and designers who have ever been on my teams. I was glad to have every one of you on my teams, and you did fantastic work. (You all knew that already though!) We all achieve some great things! Now it’s my turn again!