Recent Feature Articles

Jan 2019

Relative Versioning

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Today's submission comes from someone going by Albert Einstein. Before we look at what they sent us, let's talk a little bit about version numbers.

Version numbers, if you think about it, are a deeply weird construct, and they're trying to balance a lot of difficult goals. At its simplest, a version number is meant to order your releases. Version 2 comes after version 1. Version 3 comes next. But even this simple goal is surprisingly difficult, because your releases only exist in order if you only have one chain of history for your product. The instant you have to have a custom build for one customer, or you start doing AB testing, or your library has to provide multiple interfaces for different deployment conditions, or one developer down in the basement decides to fork and not tell anyone- releases cease to have a linear order.


Crushing Performance

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IBM-qwert keyboard

Many years ago, Sebastian worked for a company which sold self-assembled workstations and servers. One of the company's top clients ordered a server as a replacement for their ancient IBM PS/2 Model 70. The new machine ran Windows NT Server 4.0 and boasted an IPC RAID controller, along with other period-appropriate bells and whistles. Sebastian took a trip out to the client site and installed the new server in the requested place: a table in front of the receptionist's desk, accessible by anyone walking through the main entrance. Not the best location from a security standpoint, but one of the new server's primary tasks in life would be to serve the company's telephone directory, installed on CD-ROM.


CSS (Under)Performance

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Heterobranchia composite 02

Ah, WordPress. If you hadn't heard of it by reputation, it sounds pretty good: one platform where you can build a blog, an e-commerce site, an app, or some combination of all of the above. Their site is slick, and their marketing copy sounds impressive: "Beautiful designs, powerful features, and the freedom to build anything you want. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time." With WordPress, the hype insists, anyone can build a website without having to know anything about coding. Just pick a template, add free modules, and it'll look great without any effort.