Scott Hanselman

GitHub Activity Guilt and the Coder's FitBit

February 9, '16 Comments [50] Posted in Open Source
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I got an interesting email today from Corey P., reprinted in part here, with permission.

I’m curious, how you feel about GitHub’s activity graph? I’ve found myself getting increased levels of guilt/stress over that graph. So much so I’m considering not using GitHub for personal projects (only use it for contributing pull requests, reporting issues, etc.). 

I can’t help but feel like others judge me by it (phony syndrome?). I have this gnawing feeling that I need to do something in the open so I can have some sort of paper trail or else I’ll be looked down upon by people (perspective employers? colleagues?).

This is a great question. Let's look at my GitHub Graph.

235 Total Contributions

Yikes. Is this good or bad? It's pretty spartan over Sep-Nov, although I was travelling a lot.

Maybe Damian Edwards? He leads ASP.NET, although he isn't technically a dev (as far as HR is concerned). He's got me beat by double.

564 Total Contributions

OK, what's a serious contender look like? Here's Monica Dinculescu, Googler and dev on Polymer:

3244 Total Contributions

or David Fowler, architect and dev on ASP.NET

1885 Total Contributions

What's our takeaway here? That I suck and Monica's amazing? (True, though, I do suck, and please have a listen to Monica as she explains Web Components to me on a recent podcast episode)

Here's what I think about charts like this, and I'm interested in your opinion.

  • GitHub's activity chart shows public repos, not private activity.
  • I have a lot of small projects I work on during the week in private or local repos. and sometimes I don't make them public due to (slight) embarrassment at my works in progress.
  • It's not always healthy to measure yourself against others, particularly if it makes you feel bad or is somewhat unhealthy.
  • Jobs vary. Being a manager does take you away from coding sometimes.
  • If it bothers you, set a reasonable goal and work towards it, but do it for a good reason. (See how Reason and Reasonable factor in greatly there?)

Will I ever be as prolific as Monica or David? Likely not, but it's cool to know what the top of the bar is. Also, we have different jobs. Monica is working actively on a public open source project, while I'm not currently committing code to ASP.NET Core. Even Damian, a Lead PM on ASP.NET Core gets caught up in the "management" of it all. I doubt he gives his green chart a second thought.

My job currently doesn't have me committing to public repros as often as I'd like, but I'm not going let this chart dictate my value to the team. I will use it as one of many measuring sticks and I'd encourage you to as well. Perhaps set a goal to commit to an OSS project a few times a week?

GitHub Acitivty as it relates to Hiring

Sasha Laundy brought up a number of important points on Twitter about your GitHub Activity graph. She says:

If GitHub commits are only side projects, what kinds of people have time to put towards that? and if you can be silently discredited in hiring because of your public profile, how does that impact equity & diversity?

She has a great point. It's worth arguing that given the GitHub Activity Graph shows only public activity, making judgments based on it would naturally skew towards:

  • The already skilled vs. the codenewbie
  • People with more spare time, e.g. young, single, etc
  • Folks who work on OSS full-time (their company pays them to commit publically to code)

To her point, if your GitHub Activity page is given similar weight as your LinkedIn, how will you ever know if you've been quietly excluded from a job based on this chart? If you're just getting started or if you're a 20 year Enterprise software developer you may end up with an empty graph and find an uninformed recruiter glossed over your potential or experience based how much "green" they see.

What do YOU think of this? Does your GitHub Activity Graph stress you out like getting 10,000 steps on your FitBit? Or do you just roll with it? Sound off in the comments.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Interactive Coding with C# and F# REPLs (ScriptCS or the Visual Studio Interactive Window)

January 29, '16 Comments [37] Posted in Open Source
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REPLs are great! REPL stands for Read–eval–print loop and is pronounced "REP-L" quickly, like "battle." Lots of languages and environments have interactive coding and REPLS at their heart and have for years. C# and F# do also, but a lot of people don't realize there are REPLs available!

ScriptCS

In 2013 once the Roslyn open source C# compiler started to mature, Glenn Block and many friends made ScriptCS. It now lives at http://scriptcs.net and has a great GitHub and active community. The Mono project has also had a REPL for a very long time.

The C# Interactive Shell CSI

You can install ScriptCS in minutes with the Chocolatey Package Manager or OneGet with Chocolatey on Windows 10. In the screenshot above I'm writing code at the command prompt, making mistakes, and fixing them. It's a great way to learn and play with C#, but it's also VERY powerful. You can create C# Scripts (.csx files) kind of like PowerShell but it's just C#!

Visual Studio's REPLs - CSI and FSI

The Visual Studio team meets/met with the ScriptCS folks in the open and even publishes their meeting notes on GitHub! In May of last year they got ScriptCS working in OmniSharp and Visual Studio Code, which is amazing. There's a great set of directions here on how to set up ScriptCS in Visual Studio Code and the code is moving fast on GitHub.

Visual Studio 2015 Update 1 has REPLs within the IDE itself. If you have Visual Studio 2015, make sure you've updated to Update 1. If you don't have VS, you can get the free Visual Studio Community at http://visualstudio.com/free.

VS ships a command line RELP called "CSI" that you can use to run ".csx" scripts as well. Turns out the source code for CSI is basically nothing! Check it out at http://source.roslyn.io/#csi/Csi.cs and you can see how easy it would be for you to add scripting (interactive or otherwise) to your own app.

C# Interactive REPL inside Visual Studio

There's a great C# Interactive Walkthrough by Kasey Uhlenhuth that you should take a moment and play with. She's the Program Manager on this feature and also has a great video on Channel 9 on how to use the C# Interactive REPL.

Introducing the Visual Studio 'C# REPL'

Of course, F# has always had a REPL called "fsi.exe" that also ships with VS. You may have this on your PATH and not realize it, in fact. F# script files are ".fsx" so there's a nice symmetry with scripting and REPLs available in both languages, either in VS itself, or at the command line.

The F# Interactive Shell

F#'s REPL is also inside VS, right here next to the C# Interactive Window.

C# Interactive and F# Interactive in VS

These are all great options for learning and exploring code in a more interactive way than the traditional "write, compile, wait, run" that so many of us are used to.

Let's hear in the comments how (or if!) you're using REPLs like these two make your programming life better.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Review: littleBits Gadgets and Gizmos electronics kits for STEM kids

January 21, '16 Comments [16] Posted in Parenting
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GGK_Box_Everything_600x400_v-2I love posting about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and some of the great resources, products, and software that we can use to better prepare the next generation of little techies.

Here's some previous posts I've done on the topics of STEM, kids, programming, and learning with young people:

The 8 year old (recently 7, now barely 8) has been playing with littleBits lately and having a blast. He loved SnapCircuits so littleBits seemed like a reasonable, if slightly higher-level, option.

SnapCircuits boldly has kids as young as three or four creating circuitry from a simple light and switch all the way up to a solar-powered radio or a burglar/door alarm. It doesn't hide the complexities of volts and amps and includes low-level components like resistors. Frankly, I wish my first EE (Electrical Engineering) class in college was taught with SnapCircuits.

LittleBits (usually a lowercase L) jumps up a layer of abstraction and includes motors, motion detectors, LED arrays, and lots more. There are also specific kits for specific interests like a littleBits Musical Electronics Synth Kit and a littleBits Smart Home Kit that include specific littleBits that extend the base kit.

littleBits1

The key to littleBits is their magic magnet that makes it basically impossible to do something wrong or hurt yourself. The genius here is that the magnet only goes one way (because: magnets) and the connector underlying transmits both power and data.

You start with a power bit, then add an "if" statement like a switch, then move to do a "do" statement like a motor or light or whatever. In just about 20 minutes my 8 year old was able to take a LEGO custom Star Wars Blaster and add totally new functionality like lights and sounds..

The 8 year old wanted to show his Star Wars Blaster/Fan combo made with @littlebits #video

A video posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on


One of the aspects of littleBits that I think is powerful but that wasn't immediately obvious to me is that you shouldn't be afraid to use glue or more permanent attachments with your projects. I initially tried to attach littleBits with rubber bands and strings but realized that they'd smartly included "glue dots" and Velcro as well as 3M adhesive pads. Once we stopped being "afraid" to use these stickers and adhesives, suddenly little projects became semi-permanent technical art installations.

We got the "Gizmos & Gadgets" kit which is a little spendy, but it includes 15 bits that enables you to do basically anything. The instructions are great and we a had remote-controlled robot that could drive around the room running within an hour. It's a great setup, a fun kit, and something that kids 8-14 will use all the time.

Here are some fantastic examples of other Star Wars related littleBits projects for you to explore:

*Amazon links are referral links on my blog. Click them and share them to support the blog and the work I do, writing this blog on my own time. Thanks!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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ASP.NET 5 is dead - Introducing ASP.NET Core 1.0 and .NET Core 1.0

January 19, '16 Comments [295] Posted in ASP.NET | Open Source
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Naming is hard.

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things. - Phil Karlton

It's very easy to armchair quarterback and say that "they should have named it Foo and it would be easy" but very often there's many players involved in naming things. ASP.NET is a good 'brand' that's been around for 15 years or so. ASP.NET 4.6 is a supported and released product that you can get and use now from http://get.asp.net.

UPDATE NOTE: This blog post is announcing this change. It's not done or released yet. As of the date/time of this writing, this work is just starting. It will be ongoing over the next few months.

However, naming the new, completely written from scratch ASP.NET framework "ASP.NET 5" was a bad idea for a one major reason: 5 > 4.6 makes it seem like ASP.NET 5 is bigger, better, and replaces ASP.NET 4.6. Not so.

So we're changing the name and picking a better version number.

Reintroducing ASP.NET Core 1.0 and .NET Core 1.0

  • ASP.NET 5 is now ASP.NET Core 1.0.
  • .NET Core 5 is now .NET Core 1.0.
  • Entity Framework 7 is now Entity Framework Core 1.0 or EF Core 1.0 colloquially.

Why 1.0? Because these are new. The whole .NET Core concept is new. The .NET Core 1.0 CLI is very new. Not only that, but .NET Core isn't as complete as the full .NET Framework 4.6. We're still exploring server-side graphics libraries. We're still exploring gaps between ASP.NET 4.6 and ASP.NET Core 1.0.

ASP.NET Core 1.0

Which to choose?

To be clear, ASP.NET 4.6 is the more mature platform. It's battle-tested and released and available today. ASP.NET Core 1.0 is a 1.0 release that includes Web API and MVC but doesn't yet have SignalR or Web Pages. It doesn't yet support VB or F#. It will have these subsystems some day but not today.

We don't want anyone to think that ASP.NET Core 1.0 is the finish line. It's a new beginning and a fork in the road, but ASP.NET 4.6 continues on, released and fully supported. There's lots of great stuff coming, stay tuned!


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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WallabyJS is a slick and powerful test runner for JavaScript in your IDE or Editor

January 13, '16 Comments [19] Posted in Javascript
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I was reminded by a friend to explore WallabyJS this week. I had looked at WallabyJS a while back when it was less mature but I hadn't installed a more recent version. WOW. It's coming along nicely and is super-powerful. You should check it out if you write JavaScript. It's also super fast, for these reasons:

Wallaby.js is insanely fast, because it only executes tests affected by your code changes and runs your tests in parallel.

WallabyJS has plugins for the IntelliJ platform, Visual Studio, Atom, and more recently, there's preview support for Visual Studio Code and Sublime Text support is coming soon.

It supports supports TypeScript, CoffeeScript, and ES7. Wallaby supports jasmine for running tests but you can plug in your own testing framework and assertion library as you like.

Installing WallabyJS for Visual Studio Code is very easy now that Code supports extensions.

Installing WallabyJS on Visual Studio Code

Once you've installed the extension it will download what's needed and bootstrap WallabyJS. I did have a small issue installing, but and uninstall/reinstall fixed it, so it may have been just a blip.

Visual Studio Code running WallabyJS

If you want to see it in action quickly without much setup, just clone their Calculator sample at

git clone https://github.com/wallabyjs/calculator-sample.git

Do note that it's not totally obvious once you've installed WallabyJS that you have to "start" its server manually...for now.

Starting WallabyJS

Once it has started, it's mostly automatic and runs tests as you type and save. You can access all WallabyJS's commands with hotkeys or from the Visual Studio Code command palette.

WallabyJS Commands in VS Code

It's great to see a powerful tool like this working in Visual Studio Code. Remember you can get VSCode (now open source!) for any platform here code.visualstudio.com and you can get WallabyJS at their main site.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.