Monthly Archives: January 2010

MarkUs, Squad, How’s / Refactor My Code, Belated Happy Holidays, and Oh Yeah – I’m Not Dead

Belated happy holidays! My last post was over a month ago, and so my blog has a nice layer of web-dust on it right now.  Well, here I am to ease your mind.  I’m still alive!

But that almost wasn’t true.

I won’t bore you with the details – I’ll just give you the facts, and let you fill in the blanks.

  1. My girlfriend Em, her sister Cassie, and myself, were up in Collingwood on New Years Day, enjoying a relaxing day at a Norwegian spa (the outdoor baths were amazing – how awesome is it to be in a boiling hot tub, while simultaneously, your hair is so frozen that it’s snapping off in your hands?)
  2. The roads that night were treacherous.  Snowy, un-plowed, and dark.  I had borrowed my Mom’s car for the trip, and we took it realllllly slow.
  3. After a tortoise-paced two hour ride back to Em’s place in Newmarket, and then another two hour drive from Newmarket to my home in Grimsby the next day, I was getting pretty sick of winter driving.  On top of that, the brakes seemed to be acting funny.  I found myself sliding a lot, and there didn’t seem to be a lot of resistance when I put my foot down.
  4. The next day, my Mom takes the car to go to work.  She doesn’t even leave the drive-way.  The brakes hadn’t been acting funny:  the brakes hadn’t been acting at all.  Turns out we had a leaky brake-line for the entire trip…
  5. Guts of the story:  I think we drove home from Collingwood with about 35% brake power in one of the worst snow storms I’ve ever driven in.

Breakfast tasted especially good for us that morning.

Anyhow, now where was I?  Oh yeah…

MarkUs

MarkUs 0.6 got kicked out a week or so ago.  The MarkUs Team kicked the crap out of a bunch of tickets over the holidays, and I think we ended up with a pretty solid release.  MarkUs is being used again at UofT this semester, and Byron Weber Becker is also piloting it at UWaterloo.  I’ll cautiously say that things seem to be going well for this release.  Great job, MarkUs Team!

I’m TAing the students working on MarkUs for Greg’s UCOSP course again.  We had a fantastic code-sprint this past weekend!  The new team members have already started working on tickets and submitting code to review.  I think we’re on our way into another highly productive semester.

A Few More Web-Based Code Review Tools

Remember that big list of code review tools I put up a while back?  I’ve got a few more to add:

How’s My Code

This is a pretty dead-simple code review tool that came about during a Rails Rumble a few months back.  It has that “big friendly buttons and round corners” web 2.0 thingy going on.  I haven’t gone so far as to actually try it out, but I did watch this web-cast:

Not bad if you just want to get your code out there, and get your team commenting on your changes…

A few things caught my attention:

  • It’s a web service, so you don’t install it…you sign up for it
  • It currently only supports Git.  :(
  • There doesn’t seem to be any support for contextual per-line commenting…I think it’s just file by file commenting.  I’d love it if I could comment on a single line of code…

Still, if I was working on a project hosted on a Git repo, and I needed a dead-simple code review service, and I needed it quickly, I could probably do a lot worse than this.

Click here to check out How’s My Code

Squad

Remember that time when I wrote about how it might be neat if somebody created a code review tool on top of Google Wave? (or Bespin for that matter – though I didn’t mention it, and should have)

Looks like somebody else was thinking the same thing. And a few months earlier.  I guess it’s not easy to be super cutting-edge.

Anyhow, looks like something Wave-ish (yet simpler, more streamlined) has been developed.  Check out Squad.

I just tried this thing out for free (with ads, features locked, etc), and it was pretty cool.  I could see something like this being very useful for showing new MarkUs team members how to do things.  Actually, I just used it to show a new member of the MarkUs team how to use Shoulda.  Pretty useful.  It sure beats coding through IRC and Pastie.org.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. Super simple to get going – open up a session, and send someone a generated link, and you’re both coding in no time
  2. One person codes at a time…so while one person edits, the screen is locked for everyone else
  3. Ads on the left are a little annoying
  4. Sports syntax highlighting for a number of languages – though I noticed that Ruby wasn’t one of them.  :/

I can see this becoming second nature, like Pastie.org.

Who knows – I might find more reasons to use Squad as the semester rolls, and MarkUs picks up speed.  I’ll keep you posted.

If you missed the link I put in above, click here to check out Squad

Refactor My Code

This service crowd-sources code review requests, so don’t expect to get deep architectural feedback, because it’ll probably come from strangers who don’t/barely know your code base.

The idea is – slap a piece of code that you’d like refactored up on the site, and then others swoop in with brilliant suggestions (assuming of course, you asked your question properly…check this out…what the…?)

This is the sort of thing that CS instructors probably wouldn’t want their students using too much…it’d then become solve-my-CS-programming-assignment.com.

Still, I think it counts as peer code review.  And it’s way different that anything else I’ve been looking at.  Nice.

Click here to check out Refactor My Code

Anyhow, I just thought I’d mention those.

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