A practical guide to writing technical specs

Writing technical specifications is difficult.  Writing good technical specifications is even more so.  Here’s an excellent practical guide from StackOverflow on how to write technical specifications, which have everything needed, yet not being too excessive or vague.

In the comments, there are a few additional suggestions and links to other similar guides.

The only way this could have been better, if they included a ready-made template with all the described sections, so that one could just fill it in and be done with it.

MySQL, JSON, indexing and generated columns

For quite some time now I wanted to play around with the recently added JSON type in MySQL.  Finally, I have a project where MySQL version is high enough to support it, and the requirements are such that this choice makes sense.

The first impression was great – JSON type is basically LONGTEXT type with a bunch of added functionality to manipulate JSON data.  It took no time to setup tables and necessary queries to work with it.

The second iteration though raised a few questions.  Large tables, with complex JSON structures were rather slow in some of the more complex queries.  The first solution to look at was obviously indexes.  Turns out, MySQL does not support indexing of the JSON fields. Bummer.

But there is a rather elegant work around.  It involves another recently added feature, of which I haven’t heard about until today – GENERATED columns.  Think of table views, but on the column level, not table level.  And generated columns can be indexed.

In fact, there’s a whole lot that you can do with GENERATED columns in general, and JSON data in particular.  This blog post – “MySQL for JSON: Generated Columns and Indexing” – provides a great starting point with examples and explanations, including a scenario with the primary key of the table being a generated column, with the data from the JSON-typed column.


Tips for Implementing a Software Release Process

I came across this nice article outlining some of the tips for implementing the software release process.

Software Development process is not complete and mature without a well-defined release process for the software applications. Every software application needs to be delivered or deployed at some point in time and for agile projects, this is happening more often. Therefore, there is a need to maintain software quality across the application releases to avoid deploying untested or malicious code to production environments.

Defining a release process for software applications helps in ensuring that software releases maintain a constant release quality. In addition, software changes and new features are traceable or can be correlated to specific releases easily. As a result, changelogs and release notes are easier for a generation.

I do agree with most of what is being suggested. And if there’s one thing to add to these suggestions, it’d be a clear versioning convention. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Semantic Versioning.

Google Chrome Tab Groups

Thanks to this great tip I’ve discovered the recently added Tab Groups functionality in Google Chrome browser. All you need to do is navigate to chrome://flags/ , search for “Tab Groups” feature, enable it, and restart your browser. Once that is done, right-click on any tab and you’ll see the option to “Add to new group”. Any tab that is already a part of the group, can be removed from there and added to any other existing group.

It is possible to rename groups and assign each one a color. In the screenshot above you can see how my groups look right now. Yellow ALT, red LM, blue PP, purple TTM, and green BLOG are tab groups. A color running under tabs to the right of each group indicates which tabs are part of the group to the left.

Grouped tabs are also a lot easier to move around and separate into a new browser window.

ctop – top-like interface for monitoring Docker containers

ctop is a very simple, but very useful tool for when you run a number of Docker containers and want to have a top-like overview of their CPU, memory, and network usage.

This article provides more details on how to install, run, and use ctop effectively, including container filtering, single container view, etc.