onsdag 9 mars 2016

JavaScript async: the future looks promising

In the beginning there was the Pyramids.

Okay, that was not exactly true. We actually had Ajax before that. With ajax, we also got callbacks. Some of the mighty callback pyramids were built and are still standing.

About one year ago, ECMAScript 2015 (aka ES 6) was released and brought native support for Promises to JavaScript. Does that mean that it now is possible to build smaller callback pyramids, instead of the mighty ones? Yes. We also have a standardized and more reliable way of writing async JavaScript code. We can write async code that behaves in a more predictable way when things go wrong.

Here's an example.

// the async consumer code, passing an url and a callback
get('path/to/my/serverside/api', (response) => {
// handle the response here

// the callback based ajax library that we use
function get(url, onSuccess, onFail) {
// ajax things here
// pass the result to the provided callback function

What if the ajax library at some point would ... go crazy?


The callback will be executed several times and it is out of our control. However, this problem can be solved by using promises. Wrap the ajax library in a promise function and consume the wrapper instead:

// the wrapper
function promiseGet(url) {
    return new Promise ((resolve, reject) => {
        get(url, resolve, reject);

// consume the promisified version
.then((response) => {
    // handle the response here

The promise will be resolved only once, even if the ajax library goes bananas.

The bus stop
This reminds me of when I was on the bus with the kids a couple of days ago. The little one wanted to press the shiny "bus-will-stop" button. When we got closer to our stop, the kid pressed the button and got the expected feedback (a "bus-will-stop" signal!). That was fun! So, he pressed the button again. But nothing happened. Naturally, he tried a couple of times more. Nothing happened.

Just like the "bus-will-stop" button, a promise is resolved only once. I think the bus driver (and passengers) appreciate the feature.

The async brain?
Async JavaScript code - with or without Promises - isn't always the easiest thing to understand. Promises does not really solve the mismatch between how our brains are wired and the flow of callbacks & thenable functions. We have learned how to write async code, and sometimes even understand it. But wouldn't it be cool if we could write something sequential like this?

var result = get('path/to/my/serverside/api');


Of course, the code above won't work. 

I will try again, by using some of the magic of generators. A generator enable pause and continue functionality to a function. You can jump back and forth between a generator and the consumer code.

function* myGenerator() {

    var result = yield get('path/to/my/serverside/api');


That code won't work out of the box either. We need some help from a library. This library (the run function) will help us go back and forth between the generator and the consumer code, and resolve promises.

import run from 'async-runner';

run(function* myGenerator() {

    var result = yield get('path/to/my/serverside/api');


This will work. (here's the code used in this post)

Sequential async?
Okay, cool. It looks nice and sequential, at least when focusing on the rows within the function. But wait. Will people understand code with funky star functions and weird libraries? There has to be another way. I think the upcoming ECMAScript async & await feature can help us write easy to understand sequential code, without funky star functions or weird libraries.

Let's remove some code from our previous example:

import run from 'async-runner';

run(function* myGenerator() {

    var result = yield get('path/to/my/serverside/api');


And add some sweet futuristic async & await JavaScript syntax sugar:

async function myAsyncCode() {

    var result = await get('path/to/my/serverside/api');


With this, I think it actually is possible to use the words "readable" and "async" in the same sentence. Behind the scene, the async & await feature is a combination of Promises and Generators. I think the future of async programming looks very promising. Maybe we don't have to wait for it either. The transpiler Babel has already support for async & await today. Perhaps it is time to go back to the future?

here's the code used in this post

lördag 6 februari 2016

FakeMaker is updated with Episerver 9 support

Hi Episerver developers!

I have updated FakeMaker (helping you unit test your Episerver code) to support the version 9 binaries. Breaking changes caused compile errors (oops!) and made the tool incompatible with the latest versions of Episerver. It turns out that the base library context no longer has to be mocked, and that's a good thing! The solution was simple: delete code. I love deleting code, maybe even more than writing code.

FakeMaker may help you delete your code.

When writing unit tests, creating fake content and mocked repositories can be a bit depressing. When mocked code is all you see on your screen, this little library may help. A bigger screen probably also would, but is probably more expensive (and won't cure depression).

The latest version is available for download on NuGet, and the source code is on GitHub. Both are targeting version 9.6.1 of the Episerver Core libraries.

If you need Episerver 8 support, download an earlier version from NuGet, or clone the GitHub repo and checkout the epi-8-support branch

Please let me know if you have feature requests or run into any issues.

Here's an example of what you can do with FakeMaker: 
you are about to write code that uses the episerver page tree to find pages of a certain type, children of a root node, or maybe just the start page. FakeMaker makes easier to write unit tests for code like that, by creating an in memory page tree and add it to a fake content repository.

Create the pages you need:
var page = FakePage.Create("MyPageName");

or a page of a specific page type:
var myCustomPage = FakePage.Create<CustomPageData>("MyOtherPageName");

Create an instance of FakeMaker:
var fake = new FakeMaker();

Add it to the mocked repository:

Want more examples?
You will find more examples at the FakeMaker GitHub repo.

fredag 5 februari 2016

Windows? No, I'm a .NET developer.

A couple of days ago, I talked about and coded some of the new ASP.NET Core 1.0 things at the Swetugg 2016 conference in Stockholm. I used my Ubuntu laptop, the one I write code on every day at work (also used for occasional night coding at home, when the kids are sleeping).

Nowadays, I mostly write Python and JavaScript code, both are platform independent languages. I love it! When I was about to begin where I currently work, I knew very little about what kind of dev tools the team (or even the Python community) were using.

"Well, some of us use editors like Sublime or Vim, some use an IDE like PyCharm. Most of us have macbooks, but a couple of team members have various Linux distros installed on their computers. It doesn't matter. You'll be fine as long as you can run the 'make' command. What stuff do you use?"

I think my brain exploded.

Remember this movie scene? That was me.

(it's from the 1990 version of Total Recall. The AI/robot/thing gets an unexpected question from a human, doesn't know how to respond and finally breaks.)

I have never, ever, in my life as a software developer heard that question before! .NET development usually equals Windows and (often a specific version of) Visual Studio, at least from my experience.

On my first day at work I was very excited to use Ubuntu, code in PyCharm and write strange terminal commands. Today, a couple of months later, the terminal has become my new best friend. Ubuntu is fast, responsive and doesn't get in my way. Well, sometimes a bit tricky to use when native apps are missing, but that's fine. It feels like I'm on a diet.

It would be great if we, the .NET people, also were able to freely choose our favourite tools, editors and even operating system.

Because it's fun! We shouldn't underestimate the value of fun. If the tools we use are platform independent, we can be platform independent as developers too. That will bring us closer to other dev communities. Chances are we will learn (and share) more than when staying in isolation. Being a platform independent developer is a good thing.

In fact, .NET developers can do all of that now.

I have been following the development of ASP.NET 5 (recently renamed to ASP.NET Core 1.0) from the early beta versions, and started experimenting with it on my Ubuntu Linux machine a couple of months ago. This is my current setup: write C# code in Atom, push commits to GitHub, trigger builds and publish to Azure Web Apps when pull requests are merged.

Developing on a Linux dev machine and publishing to a cloud based Windows machine.

Atom, really? I know, Visual Studio is hard to compete with, especially when used together with ReSharper. But editors like Atom are lightweight. I like that. They are not only lightweight, they also have the possibility to install plugins like OmniSharpOmniSharp add editor features close to the ReSharper experience.

Lightweight tools need friends, and one of them is the terminal. It might be a bit intimidating at first if you are not already a command line user. It was for me. Now, I rather write oneliners like this, than right clicking some menu option or opening a dialog window:

git checkout -b my-new-feature-branch

Once learned, it is so simple. Let's stay in the command line window, because there is another essential tool for platform independent .NET development: Yeoman.

With Yeoman, we get the command line version of "File -> new project". You can also install Yeoman as a plugin to Atom. I usually create a new C# project from the command line and later add files using the Atom plugin.

What about Mono?
I haven't figured out how to exclusively use the new modular CoreCLR on my Linux machine. I can't get it to work without selecting the Mono version in the .NET version manager (the dnvm command). I guess it will be fixed soon, but it doesn't really matter if you want to get started now. Mono is the platform independent version of the system wide installed .NET Framework on your Windows machine.

Besides that, Mono comes with a great tool: the REPL.

Great for experimenting and learning about new cool C# features. Just type the word csharp in the terminal and start experimenting & learning.

So far, the .NET development on Linux experience has been very nice.

tisdag 10 november 2015

Test friendly JavaScript modules - without Dependency Injection

A while ago, I was trying to figure out how to use test driven development with ES2015 (also known as ES6 at the time). It turned out to be a nice experience, and I wrote a blog post about it: Can I test it?

However, I had some concerns about the import feature and how to deal with module dependencies. I wrote a blog post about that too: Is the ES6 import feature an anti pattern?

Recently, I have been learning Python and was surprised by the similarities with JavaScript - in coding style, philosophy and language features. I guess Python has been a source of inspiration for the new ES2015 stuff. I have quickly become a fan of Python and I think it is a very nice language.

 At first, as a Python newbie, I stumbled upon the same questions on how to unit test modules containing a bunch of import statements. Luckily, at work I am surrounded with great programmers in general, that also are experts in the Python language. With Python, the answer to my questions was both simple and obvious. Python is a dynamic language: load the dependency in the unit test, then just override it. The code under test will use the already loaded in memory module. Simple, huh? It seems to me that there is no need for c#/java like dependency injections. I guess it was my typed language mindset that had guided me to IoC and DI patterns.

What about JavaScript?
I think it is (almost) as simple! Modules and imports in JavaScript are similar to (but not exactly like) the Python way. In JavaScript, I guess it also depends on the module loader used in the current environment. I have experimented with this. My setup contain ES2015 modules and unit tests, that are transpiled with Babel to RequireJS modules, runs in a browser or with PhantomJS. With this setup, I have managed to override module dependencies with fakes from a unit test. The module under test will actually run the fake dependency, and there is no need for custom Dependency Injection.

An example: a unit test
import foo from 'modules/foo';
import bar from 'modules/bar';

const fakeMessage = 'a fake message.';

const original = bar.getMessage;
const fake = () => fakeMessage;

QUnit.module('my example tests', {
    beforeEach() {
        bar.getMessage = fake;
    afterEach() {
        bar.getMessage = original;

QUnit.test('can an imported module be mocked?', assert => {
assert.equal(foo.message(), fakeMessage);

And the actual code under test:
import bar from 'modules/bar';

let foo = {
    message() {
        return bar.getMessage();

export default foo;

I would appreciate your feedback on this!

You will find unit tests, code, settings, project structure and setup at my GitHub page:

måndag 27 juli 2015

Coding in the dark: ES2015 and TypeScript on an iPad

Coding in the dark
Summertime, and the Swedish weather is ... not great, but good enough! I have spent some of the vacation days here at the countryside of beautiful Värmland, Sweden, without writing any code at all. But ideas have popped up and I want to try them out. So, now I code when everybody is sleeping. The "Dark Theme" of the editor dim the bright screen light - and hopefully won't wake up the family in the middle of the night.

Direct link: Here's some example code I have written that will get you up and running with ES2015 and/or TypeScript on your iPad.

Offline coding
I really want to write code on my iPad mini, instead of using the laptop (that I also have with me, of course). With low bandwidth - sometimes no connection at all - remoting to & write code on a Cloud based VM is not an option here in the wilderness. Local and offline is better. The Coda for iOS app supports local offline files and the latest version has some really nice features. But why code on an iPad? Well ... why not! And it's convenient too, experimenting with code snippets is just a smart device away from being realized. The solutions I present here are of course useful for countryside coding on a laptop too.

ES2015 on the iPad
I decided to give ES2015 coding a try. Does it work, using an iPad and the app only? Yes, the built in web browser and file system of Coda for iOS makes it possible. When I figured out how to transpile and run the scripts in the web browser (by using Babel and the es6-module-loader library), I got carried away and thought it would be cool to also write TypeScript on the iPad. It turns out to be just as easy as the ES2015 setup.

TypeScript on the iPad
I found a nice library on GitHub by Basarat Ali Syed, that makes it possible to transpile TypeScript files to JavaScript in a web browser: basarat/typescript-script 

Here's some example code I have written that will get you up and running with ES2015 and/or TypeScript on your iPad.

Command line experimenting with the JavaScript Playground
One of the new features of the Coda app is a command line based JavaScript playground. Scripts can easily be loaded into it and the transpiler functions can be executed from the command line. I think it is a useful alternative to the web browser, and very helpful when I want to see the actual output from a transpilation.

Happy iPad coding!