The Top 10 Productivity Booster Techs for Programmers

This is the list we’ve all been waiting for. The top 10 productivity booster techs for programmers that – once you’ve started using them – you can never do without them any longer.

Here it is:

1. Git

logo@2x Before, there were various version control systems. Better ones, worse ones. But somehow they all felt wrong in one way or another.

Came along Git (and GitHub, EGit). Once you’re using this miraculous tool, it’s hard to imagine that you’ll ever meet a better VCS again.

You’ve never used Git? Get started with this guide.

2. Stack Overflow

stackoverflow

No kidding. Have you ever googled for anything tech-related back in 2005? Or altavista’d something back in 2000? Or went to FidoNet in search for answers in 1995? It was horrible. The top results always consisted in boring forum discussions with lots of un-experts and script kiddies claiming wrong things.

These forums still exist, but they don’t turn up on page 1 of Google search results.

Today, any time you search for something, you’ll have 2-3 hits per top 10 from Stack Overflow. And chances are, you’ll look no further because those answers are 80% wonderful! That’s partially because of Stack Overflow’s cunning reputation system, but also partially because of Stack Overflow’s even more cunning SEO rewarding system. (I already got 98 announcer, 19 booster, and 5 publicist badges. Yay).

While Stack Overflow allows its more active user to pursue their vanity (see above ;-) ), all the other users without any accounts will continue to flock in, finding perfect answers and clicking on very relevant ads.

Thumbs up for Stack Overflow and their awesome business model.

3. Office 365

excel We’re a small startup. Keeping costs low is of the essence. With Office 365, we only pay around $120 per user for a full-fledged Office 2013 suite, integrated with Microsoft Onedrive, Sharepoint, Exchange, Access, and much more.

In other words, we get enterprise-quality office software for the price of what students used to pay, before.

And do note, Office 2013 is better than any other Microsoft (or Libre) Office suite before. While not a 100% Programmer thing, it’s still an awesome tool chain for a very competitive price.

4. IntelliJ

intellij

While Eclipse is great (and free), IntelliJ IDEA, and also phpStorm for those unfortunate enough to write PHP are just subtly better in almost every aspect of an IDE. You can try their free community edition any time, but beware, you probably won’t switch back. And then you probably won’t be able to evade the Ultimate edition for long ;-)

5. PostgreSQL

pg PostgreSQL claims to be the world’s most advanced Open Source database, and we think it’s also one of the most elegant, easy, standards-compliant databases. It is really the one database that makes working with SQL fun.

We believe that within a couple of years, there’s a real chance of PostgreSQL not only beating commercial databases in terms of syntax but also in terms of performance.

Any time you need a data storage system with a slight preference for SQL-based ones, just make PostgreSQL your default choice. You won’t be missing any feature in that database.

Let’s hear it for PostgreSQL.

6. Java

duke Java is almost 20 years old, but it’s still the #1 or #2 language on the TIOBE index (sharing ranks with C), for very good reasons:

  • It’s robust
  • It’s mature
  • It works everywhere (almost, really too bad it has never succeeded in the browser)
  • It runs on the best platform ever, the JVM
  • It is Open Source
  • It has millions of tools, libraries, extensions, and applications

While some languages may seem a bit more modern or sexy or geeky, Java has and will always rule them all in terms of popularity. It is a first choice and with Java 8, things have improved even more.

7. jOOQ

jooq-logo-black-100x80 Now, learning this from the jOOQ blog is really unexpected and a shocker, but we think that jOOQ fits right into this programmer’s must-have top-10 tool chain. Most jOOQ users out there have never returned back to pre-jOOQ tools, as they’ve found writing SQL in Java as simple as never before.

Given that we’ve had Java and PostgreSQL before, there’s only this one missing piece gluing the two together in the most sophisticated way.

And besides, no one wants to hack around with the JDBC API, these days, do they?

8. Less CSS

less When you try Less CSS for the first time, you’ll think that

Why isn’t CSS itself like this!?

And you’re right. It feels just like CSS the way it should have always been. All the things that you have always hated about CSS (repetitiveness, verbosity, complexity) are gone. And if you’re using phpStorm or some other JetBrains product (see above), you don’t even have to worry about compiling it to CSS.

As an old HTML-table lover who doesn’t care too much about HTML5, layout, and all that, using Less CSS makes me wonder if I should finally dare creating more fancy websites!

Never again without Less CSS.

9. jQuery

jqueryWhat Less CSS is for CSS, jQuery is for JavaScript. Heck, so many junior developers on Stack Overflow don’t even realise that jQuery is just a JavaScript library. They think it is the language, because we’ve grown to use it all over the place.

Yes, sometimes, jQuery can be overkill as is indicated by this slightly cynical website: http://vanilla-js.com

joox-logo-blackBut it helps so much abstracting all the DOM manipulation in a very fluent way. If only all libraries were written this way.

Do note that we’ve also published a similar library for Java, in case you’re interested in jQuery-style DOM XML manipulation. Along with Java 8’s new lambda expressions, manipulating the DOM becomes a piece of cake.

10. C8H10N4O2

764px-Caffeine.svgC8H10N4O2 (more commonly known as Caffeine) is probably the number one productivity booster for programmers.

Some may claim that there’s such a thing like the Ballmer Peak. That might be true, but the Caffeine Peak has been proven times and again.

Have Dilbert’s view on the matter:

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2006-10-19/

More productivity boosters

We’re certainly not the only ones believing that there is such a thing as a programmer-productivity-booster. Enjoy this alternative list by Troy Topnik here for more insight:

http://www.activestate.com/blog/2010/03/top-ten-list-productivity-boosters-programmers

Java 8 Friday Goodies: Lambdas and XML

At Data Geekery, we love Java. And as we’re really into jOOQ’s fluent API and query DSL, we’re absolutely thrilled about what Java 8 will bring to our ecosystem. We have blogged a couple of times about some nice Java 8 goodies, and now we feel it’s time to start a new blog series, the…

Java 8 Friday

Every Friday, we’re showing you a couple of nice new tutorial-style Java 8 features, which take advantage of lambda expressions, extension methods, and other great stuff. You’ll find the source code on GitHub. tweet this

Java 8 Goodie: Lambdas and XML

There isn’t too much that Java 8 can do to the existing SAX and DOM APIs. The SAX ContentHandler has too many abstract methods to qualify as a @FunctionalInterface, and DOM is a huge, verbose API specified by w3c, with little chance of adding new extension methods.

Luckily there is a small Open Source library called jOOX that allows for processing the w3c standard DOM API through a wrapper API that mimicks the popular jQuery library. jQuery leverages JavaScript’s language features by allowing users to pass functions to the API for DOM traversal. The same is the case with jOOX. Let’s have a closer look:

Assume that we’re using the following pom.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<project xmlns="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0"
     xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
     xsi:schemaLocation="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0 http://maven.apache.org/xsd/maven-4.0.0.xsd">
  <modelVersion>4.0.0</modelVersion>

  <groupId>org.jooq</groupId>
  <artifactId>java8-goodies</artifactId>
  <version>1.0-SNAPSHOT</version>

  <dependencies>
    <dependency>
      <groupId>org.jooq</groupId>
      <artifactId>joox</artifactId>
      <version>1.2.0</version>
    </dependency>
  </dependencies>

  <build>
    <plugins>
      <plugin>
        <groupId>org.apache.maven.plugins</groupId>
        <artifactId>maven-compiler-plugin</artifactId>
        <version>2.3.2</version>
        <configuration>
          <fork>true</fork>
          <maxmem>512m</maxmem>
          <meminitial>256m</meminitial>
          <encoding>UTF-8</encoding>
          <source>1.8</source>
          <target>1.8</target>
          <debug>true</debug>
          <debuglevel>lines,vars,source</debuglevel>
        </configuration>
      </plugin>
    </plugins>
  </build>
</project>

Let’s assume we wanted to know all the involved artifacts in Maven’s groupId:artifactId:version notation. Here’s how we can do that with jOOX and lambda expressions:

$(new File("./pom.xml")).find("groupId")
                        .each(ctx -> {
    System.out.println(
        $(ctx).text() + ":" +
        $(ctx).siblings("artifactId").text() + ":" +
        $(ctx).siblings("version").text()
    );
});

Executing the above yields:

org.jooq:java8-goodies:1.0-SNAPSHOT
org.jooq:joox:1.2.0
org.apache.maven.plugins:maven-compiler-plugin:2.3.2

Let’s assume we only wanted to display those artifacts that don’t have SNAPSHOT in their version numbers. Simply add a filter:

$(new File("./pom.xml"))
    .find("groupId")
    .filter(ctx -> $(ctx).siblings("version")
                         .matchText(".*-SNAPSHOT")
                         .isEmpty())
    .each(ctx -> {
        System.out.println(
        $(ctx).text() + ":" +
        $(ctx).siblings("artifactId").text() + ":" +
        $(ctx).siblings("version").text());
    });

This will now yield

org.jooq:joox:1.2.0
org.apache.maven.plugins:maven-compiler-plugin:2.3.2

We can also transform the XML content. For instance, if the target document doesn’t need to be a POM, we could replace the matched groupId elements by an artifical artifact element that contains the artifact name in Maven notation. Here’s how to do this:

$(new File("./pom.xml"))
    .find("groupId")
    .filter(ctx -> $(ctx).siblings("version")
                         .matchText(".*-SNAPSHOT")
                         .isEmpty())
    .content(ctx ->
        $(ctx).text() + ":" +
        $(ctx).siblings("artifactId").text() + ":" +
        $(ctx).siblings("version").text()
    )
    .rename("artifact")
    .each(ctx -> System.out.println(ctx));

The above puts new content in place of the previous one through .content(), and then renames the groupId elements to artifact, before printing out the element. The result is:

<artifact>org.jooq:joox:1.2.0</artifact>
<artifact>org.apache.maven.plugins:maven-compiler-plugin:2.3.2</artifact>

More goodies next week

What becomes immediately obvious is the fact that the lambda expert group’s choice of making all SAMs (Single Abstract Method interfaces) eligible for use with lambda expressions adds great value to pre-existing APIs. Quite a clever move.

But there are also new APIs. Last week, we have discussed how the existing JDK 1.2 File API can be improved through the use of lambdas. Some of our readers have expressed their concerns that the java.io API has been largely replaced by java.nio (nio as in New I/O). Next week, we’ll have a look at Java 8’s java.nnio API (for new-new I/O ;-) ) and how it relates to the Java 8 Streams API.

More on Java 8

In the mean time, have a look at Eugen Paraschiv’s awesome Java 8 resources page

A jOOX First-Time Experience Article

Here’s some nice first-time user experience about jOOX, my lesser-known product:
http://www.kubrynski.com/2013/03/as-developer-i-want-to-use-xml.html

As a reminder, here’s what jOOX is all about:

jOOX stands for Java Object Oriented XML. It is a simple wrapper for the org.w3c.dom package, to allow for fluent XML document creation and manipulation where DOM is required but too verbose. jOOX only wraps the underlying document and can be used to enhance DOM, not as an alternative.

Unlike other, similar tools that mimick jQuery (e.g. jsoup, jerry, gwtquery), jOOX really aims to leverage standard w3c DOM usage, which isn’t such a bad thing after all, with its performant, standard Xerces implementation.

Some simple example code:

// Find the order at index 4 and 
// add an element "paid"
$(document).find("orders")
           .children().eq(4)
           .append("<paid>true</paid>");

// Find those orders that are paid 
// and flag them as "settled"
$(document).find("orders")
           .children().find("paid")
           .after("<settled>true</settled>");

FluentDOM, another mimick of jQuery DOM manipulation, in PHP

The triumph of jQuery over any other XML API seems prominent, in many languages. Here is another example of a nice jQuery-port to PHP: FluentDOM.

http://fluentdom.github.com/

Similar to jOOX, FluentDOM aims to combine a jQuery-like fluent API with XPath and general DOM XML manipulation. Here are some simple examples taken from the FluentDOM documentation:

// read a file and set the message tag's content
echo FluentDOM($xmlFile)
  ->find('/message')
  ->text('Hello World!');

// Find the <root> first then the second element in it
var_dump($fd->find('/root')->find('*[2]')->item(0)->textContent);

// Append elements to an object
$menu
  ->append('<li/>')
  ->append('<a/>')
  ->attr('href', '/sample.php')
  ->text('Sample');

I’m in contact with the developers of FluentDOM. As always with OSS, there is great potential for synergy, which in the end will make both products better. For jOOX, this means that loading of files/streams is going to be a nice plus. XPath is already implemented in the upcoming release 0.9.2. On the other hand, maybe FluentDOM can get inspiration from jOOQ’s document creation syntax (which isn’t part of jQuery):

$("root",
  $("element",
    $("child", "text"),
    $("child", "more text")));

… which will create

<root>
  <element>
    <child>text</child>
    <child>more text</child>
  </element>
</root>

Excited as always, let’s get back to hacking! :-)

See the latest progress here: http://code.google.com/p/joox/

Another Fluent API: jOOX. Porting jQuery to Java

Recently, in my every day programming madness, I really felt the urge to kill someone involved with the formal specification of DOM. The beloved Document Object Model. While everyone understands that this API is complete in functionality and scope and it’s a standard, and it’s almost the same in every language…. well it’s incredibly verbose. Manipulating XML is about as fun and exciting as cleaning the dishes of a 2000-people Indian wedding.

And then, suddenly, I remembered that this is how I felt with Java’s support for advanced SQL and how JPA/CriteriaQuery made me feel like that poor dishwasher, before. And I wondered whether someone had felt like me before. So I asked this question on Stack Overflow:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6996013/a-nice-java-xml-dom-utility

And I got the expected answers about JDOM and dom4j. Two dinosaur projects that are neither sexier nor more efficient than the standard itself (e.g. Xerces). See this answer about performance:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6996013/a-nice-java-xml-dom-utility#6998870

I had also found one project, that has a somewhat fluent approach:

http://code.google.com/p/xmltool/

It looks quite nice, actually, although it is a bit biased towards DOM creation, not navigation. And then, it struck me like lightning: “Why hasn’t anyone ported jQuery” to Java, yet?? jQuery is exactly how an XML API should be: Awesome. Fluent. Fun, and efficient to use. So I tried to hack something together that looks like jQuery and that’s the beginning of another product in the “jOO-Star suite”: jOOX with X for XML! I wanted this to be fluent, and fun and efficient to use. Like jOOQ. So jOOX will be an attempt for doing precisely that. Here’s an example of what jOOX code looks like:

// Find the order at index for and add an element "paid"
joox(document).find("orders")
              .children()
              .eq(4)
              .append("<paid>true</paid>");

// Find those orders that are paid and flag them as "settled"
joox(document).find("orders")
              .children()
              .find("paid")
              .after("<settled>true</settled>");

This rapid prototype of a jQuery port looks very promising to me, even if the most important features aren’t there yet (e.g. navigation with expression languages, selectors, etc). With Java’s static typing and without all the browser-related issues and JavaScript event handling and CSS and all that, pure DOM navigation and manipulation is actually not that hard to wrap. In any case, I have now even more respect for the jQuery guys, as I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg.

So in the future, I will also post one or two entries about jOOX on this blog. Looking forward to feedback!

Download jOOX from Google Code:

http://code.google.com/p/joox/