New releases of Truffle & TestRPC. Now easier to install.

I have mentioned previously that Truffle & TestRPC are my development tools of choice for Ethereum based development.

truffle logo

It is exciting to see that there have been new releases of both Truffle & TestRPC. I have been hanging out in the Truffle Gitter channel, and been fielding lots of questions about installation issues on Windows. As Tim has previously blogged, there have been a number of issues with installation. The installation issues were mostly due to compiling C based libraries, and requiring a number of build tools on the local machine. These issues have now been removed as Truffle & TestRPC are both now built, and then released as a completely pre-packaged release. This also means that installation times have dropped from 10 minutes, to 10 seconds! (Which means I’ll need to go back and update some of my old tutorials 🙂)

 

Truffle

Highlights: More reliable installation. Makes it easier for everyone to jump in and start playing!
https://github.com/trufflesuite/truffle/releases/tag/v3.3.0

TestRPC

Highlights: Installs quicker. Reduced memory consumption. Ability to persist the blockchain to disk, meaning you can suspend and then resume if you like  (I’ll still be using it mostly as a throw away in memory style dev environment).
https://github.com/ethereumjs/testrpc/releases/tag/v4.0.0

Whats next?

I’ve been waiting in suspense for these updated installers to drop for many months now. There have been a couple of projects on my backlog that had been blocked until this came out. A short list of what I’ll be working on in the near term are:

  • Updated installation documentation (for Windows & Ubuntu)
  • Video tutorials showing how to install and get started with Truffle & TestRPC
  • New DevOps tutorials. The easier self contained install makes a couple of scenarios much easier now.

 

Using the GitHub for Windows app with BitBucket

If you aren’t using any form of source control in your project then stop right now and fix this. To get up and running with Git takes a whole 10 minutes to set up, and you will have your source code up in the cloud, should your computer blow up in the future (or you absent mindedly delete an important file).

Last year I wrote a blog post explaining how you could get free online source control for your personal projects by using a combination of a free account at http://bitbucket.org/ and the GREAT Git client created by GitHub http://windows.github.com/. Things have progressed so it is time to write an update.

BitBucket vs. GitHub

Lets take a quick look at a matrix that explains the two servies. GitHub is quickly becoming the De facto place to host public open source projects. However if you are working on your own project you will probably want to keep your code private. This is where BitBucket shines, if you just want to a place to host all of your private repositories, then you can have unlimited private ones. The limitation of 5 collaborators is fine for private projects.

BitBucket GitHub
Private repositories Free
(Limited to 5 collaborators)
PAID
Public repositories Free Free

The GitHub for windows application

Using Git from the command line can be hard. There are a lot of commands to learn while simultaneously trying to learn the workflow of Git works. While it is important long term to understand these commands, when getting started a GUI can help ease you into this new world.

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The GitHub for Windows application has great integrated support for BitBucket (as can be expected), however it can work as a generic Git client just fine. This will allow us to use it with BitBucket.

Creating a repository on BitBucket

The new sign in screen on BitBucket.org surprised me. You can now actually sign into BitBucket with your GitHub account *Mind Blown*

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Once you have logged in, create a new repository

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Connecting the GitHub app with BitBucket

Once you have created a repository, find a place where it displays the address of your new Git repository (e.g. under Get Started). Then select the URL and then drag the text from your browser, and drop it into the GitHub for Windows app. It will automatically add the repository.

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Now place your source code within that folder in Windows Explorer, commit your source code into the repository, then publish your new change set back up into Bitbucket. Done easy!

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By David Burela

Making “Isometric workflows” inside Expression Blend

Making “Isometric workflows” inside Expression Blend

I was going through the archives and found this video that Scott Barnes (@Mossyblog) recorded last year.

The video is still relevant for Windows 8 developers. In the video, Scott explains the steps he takes to make a stylised “Isometric Workflow” that would work well inside of a dashboard application.

The video was done as a “Part 1”, but unfortunately it looks like he never did record any further parts.
Enjoy the video, it is great to see how other people work with their tools.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/21877046]
https://vimeo.com/21877046

By David Burela

I’ve got the #FirstWorldProblemBlues

nerdcore cover

Some of you may have previously heard of a subgenre of music classified as “Nerdcore”. For those of you unfamiliar with it, here is the description from Wikipedia

Nerdcore hip hop, is a sub-genre of hip hop music characterized by themes and subject matter considered to be of general interest to nerds, though it can appeal to others as well… Though nerdcore rappers rhyme about anything from politics to science fiction, there are some perennial favorites in nerdcore subject matter, including Star Wars, Internet pornography, role-playing games, science, fantasy and computers.

A search for Nerdcore on YouTube returns some interesting results. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=nerdcore

One of the first Nerdcore artists “Mc Frontalot” sums up the rationale behind Nerdcore succinctly: “Nerdcore hip-hop is the spinning of geek shame into bravo through rapping”. Geeks taking what they love and spinning it into an art form to share with others.

Nerdcore is fine for those that like repetitive beats, however today on twitter there may be the sparks of a new subgenre of music known as the “First World Problem Blues”. Taking the melancholy and sadness inherent in blues music, but using it to lament on the problems we suffer daily in the first world (examples of this meme can be found here http://www.quickmeme.com/First-World-Problems/).

It started off innocently enough with a well known geek specialising in “Visual Studio Team Foundation”, asked an innocent question on twitter:

It quickly spiralled out of control as other nerds twisted it into a new shortly lived meme

By David Burela

What Windows 8 is missing – An airplay icon

I’ve had an iPad since they were first released, and my iPad 3 is my favourite tech device (Instapaper while sitting on the couch is the killer app). But it meant that i was able to pass my iPad 1 off to my girl friend.

At this point, one of my friends suggested that I should purchase an Apple TV as they are so cheap! I purchased one, and suddenly my girlfriend was watching TV shows by herself on the TV via iPad + apple TV AirPlay. I’d shown her a number of times how she can try getting things working herself with a laptop, through PC cables, windows media centre machines, etc. But it wasn’t until she saw the air play icon within all of her iPad apps, that she started taking advantage of connecting devices to the TV.

Which brings me to Windows 8. Microsoft keeps touting the “Play To” feature as a killer app for the OS, but unfortunately it just is not visible enough. I’m an avid user of Windows 8, but it took me active research on the internet to find out how to do the same thing with windows 8. The answer: you need to be in a Metro app that supports it, be in the correct place in the application, know that the app supports it, so that you know to go into the charms bar, select devices, select the correct device, etc.

Contrast this to the iOS method: whenever you are viewing media that you can stream to another device, you see this icon
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And here is a screenshot of it in a typical media player app
airplay_screen
It is right there, built into the OS, and 3rd party developers know to use that standard icon. It is a design guideline that has helped make the feature so prominent through so many apps.

The closest I can find is a Windows Media Player Play To icon,
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but it definitely isn’t “Metro” enough to be embedded in UIs.

If Microsoft wants to become a serious contender in the tablet + home device market, then I suggest they start coming up with their own standard icon for developers to embed into their apps, similar to the AirPlay icon.
Get on it Microsoft!

By David Burela

Online source control for your personal projects

Overview: This blog post covers how you can use “GitHub for Windows” with BitBucket to give you free online source control storage for your projects. Phil Haack recently blogged on how you can use GitHub for Windows with git repositories hosted elsewhere, I thought I would provide a step by step guide on how to do this with Bitbucket.

Many of us work on little side projects, it is what geeks do. But I am still surprised at the number of people that give me a blank look when I ask them what source control they are using on their personal projects. “We use TFS at work”, is the usual response, “but I don’t do anything with my own code. I just zip it up at now and then”.

Lets change this. It couldn’t be easier to get started!

Git is a great tool for doing source control locally, it supports change sets so that you can see how your code evolved over time. Unfortunately it can be difficult to get started with Git due to the number of command line tools and new concepts that need to be learnt. This is where GitHub for Windows comes in. It lets you easily create Git source code repositories and check your change sets in, via a nice visual interface.

To compliment this, there are 2 main websites that allow you to synchronise your local Git repositories with online cloud storage, meaning that your source code is safe from your computer blowing up, and also allows you to work across multiple PCs (or team mates).

  1. https://GitHub.com/ – Free for public repositories, but you pay for private repositories
  2. https://Bitbucket.org/ – Free unlimited private repositories, but you pay to add more than 3 team members

Personally, I use GitHub for anything that I share with other people (code samples, tutorials, etc.) and I use Bitbucket for my own personal projects. I previously blogged about my use of Github https://davidburela.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/developer-blog-banter-3-responsecommunity-coding/

Connecting Bitbucket with GitHub for Windows

It is really easy to connect and start backing up your projects to Bitbucket.

  1. Install GitHub for windows http://windows.github.com/
  2. Sign up for a free account at https://bitbucket.org/
  3. From Bitbucket, select Repositories –> Create new repository.
  4. Create a new Git repository
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  5. Once created, you will be taken to the repository’s home page. Copy the repository url
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  6. From the start menu, open the Git Shell and paste in the git command that was copied in the previous step. This will create a new folder, create a new git repository inside that folder, and link that repository with the online repository on Bitbucket.org. This means you’ll be able to keep the 2 in sync easily.
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  7. Open GitHub for Windows.
  8. To let GitHub for Windows know about the repository, simply drag the folder from windows explorer onto the application window. This will allow you to commit change sets and synchronise with the online repository.
  9. Start adding files to the folder (or create a new Visual Studio project inside that folder), then commit change sets periodically.
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  10. Once you have committed a number of change sets to your local git source repository, push the change sets up to your Bitbucket account by clicking the publish button.
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  11. If you browse to your repositories home page, you will see all of the change sets synchronised.
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  12. To retrieve the source code from another machine, simply repeat the first few steps to install GitHub for Windows, open a Git shell to run the initial command and drag the folder into the Github for windows app to start committing and publishing change sets.

Summary

With free tools and online storage, there are NO reasons for you to not use some form of source control to keep your projects safe. Start using it on one of your projects now and save your code from a lost hard drive!

If you want to start learning advanced git concepts, then here are some resources to help you get started

By David Burela