Automate git Branch Housekeeping

While my house is not so tidy, I like to keep my local and remote git branches pruned after development milestones. For years I’ve used a very simple bash function to delete a branch locally and remotely.

I finally had a few moments to develop this a little more and created a gist called which you can find here.

Continue reading “Automate git Branch Housekeeping”

A New Era

I am leaving NCBI after 12+ years to work at MountainPass Technology. I will be focusing more on front-end development and mobile application development.

When I started, my eldest son was six months at the time—now he’s smarter than I (or so he thinks). I was hired before I could even program. Sure, I knew some HTML and CSS, but practically no JavaScript and really no backend programming language, apart from a bit of PHP. My manager hired me because he liked the way I think and figured he could train me to program. He was right.

Continue reading “A New Era”

Static Typing as Documentation

I’ve started to learn Angular5. What’s interesting to me at the moment is its use of TypeScript, a superset of JavaScript that adds ES6 features, and optional static typing.

For years, especially in the web-programming world, dynamic typing was the rage (Perl, JavaScript, PHP, Python). Now types are back. Python has add-ons and JavaScript has TypeScript. Continue reading “Static Typing as Documentation”


I’m pretty into mocking…though I went overboard years ago when I really first started implementing it in my tests. Now-a-days I keep it under control, really only mocking external services. If I must mock part of my own API (e.g. for performance reasons) I make sure I minimize the mocks per test.

In Python I’ve extensively used the mock and request-mock packages.  They’re great, but I find their APIs a bit clunky. Lately I’m doing more Node.js and needed to mock an HTTP request and response. Continue reading “Nocking”

When Stringifiying a DOM Node Gives You Too Much

I’ve been refactoring an internal application that we use extensively at my organization. It’s called Sanity.

It is a general-purpose HTML quality checker that’s ostensibly for testing accessibility, but it’s general enough that it can test all kinds of things Continue reading “When Stringifiying a DOM Node Gives You Too Much”

Web Development Topics in Interviewing

I thought I’d organize some topics that have come up during job interviews for Python/JavaScript web development positions. This post doesn’t address problem solving exercises, rather just simple questions I’ve been asked to discuss or that have come up when solving algorithmic problems. Continue reading “Web Development Topics in Interviewing”

Principles First

The aim of this post is to show that recent trends in Agile trainings, emphasizing improvisation over principles, can do a great disservice to teams and projects.

Using Agile buzzwords doesn’t mean a successful product, results do. When organizations attempting Agile don’t strike a balance between flexibility and discipline, the Agile process is often blamed, not its crappy implementation. For an Agile process to succeed it takes knowledge and discipline to stick to its guiding principles. It’s not “Agile” to fly by the seat of your pants. It’s just irresponsible. Likewise, it’s not “Agile” to be dogmatic. After all, our goal is to produce the right product at the right time, not “be Agile”. Continue reading “Principles First”

Deflaking flaky tests

Flaky automated tests are a real drag. They’re worse than no tests at all. That being said, you can take measures to eradicate them.

Where I work folks have (finally) become test-infected, which means non-dedicated testers are writing unit, and even functional tests for themselves. Because of their lack of testing experience, a lot of these testers write tests, run them once, and bask in the green. The test may happen to pass the first time it runs, then he/she commits it to master and all’s well, right? Continue reading “Deflaking flaky tests”

Installing Jekyll with RVM

Note: I no longer use Jekyll for my blog.

A lot’s been written about Jekyll, but coming from a Python background and knowing virtually nothing about the Ruby ecosystem, I had no idea how to do Ruby virtual environments and install Ruby dependencies. I suppose I’ll learn more about that as I need to. In the meantime, I just wanted to get up-and-running with Jekyll and be able to build my environment from my website’s Github repo.

I documented how I did this in my website’s Github repository’s README, so check it out. Hopefully this will save you time getting going with Jekyll, and also allow you to easily re-create your environment on other machines.

A new web-testing paradigm: Robot Framework & Page Objects

Though I am not a QA engineer, a year ago frishberghellmanj and I took it upon ourselves to help NCBI’s QA department replace their dying automated web testing framework, IBM’s Rational Functional Tester(RFT). The process introduced some innovative new tools that we released open-source, but perhaps more importantly, it introduced new practices to our QA group. In this post I’ll discuss our experiences with developing our own testing framework and our experience integrating some programming-best-practices to our QA group. Continue reading “A new web-testing paradigm: Robot Framework & Page Objects”