3520 cards

Cucumber features as documentation

Cucumber allows for prose in features and scenarios. Example:

Feature: Cancel account

  There are several ways to cancel a user account. Admins need to 
  do it in complex cases, but normally, users can do it themselves.
  Scenario: User cancels his own account
    Users should be able to cancel an account themselves, so the 
    admins do not need to do it.
    Given a user account for "willy@astor.de"
    When I sign in as "willy@astor.de"
    And I follow "Cancel account"
    Then I should see "Account canceled"



Devise: Invalidating all sessions for a user

Background information about session storage in Rails

Rails has a default mechanism to store the session in the CookieStore. This is a cookie which holds the entire user session hash in the browser. This cookie is serialized, encoded with base64, and signed.

How Devise handles authentication

Devise uses this CookieStore. To track a users session, a salt is stored in the session cookie when a user logs in.
When a user logs out this CookieStore is overwrit…


Why has_many :through associations can return the same record multiple times

An association defined with has_many :through will return the same record multiple times if multiple join models for the same record exist. To prevent this, you need to add ->{ uniq } as second argument to has_many (below Rails 4 it is a simple option: has_many :xyz, :uniq => true).


Say you have an Invoice with multiple Items. Each Item has a Product:

class Invoice < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :items
  has_many :products, :through => :items

class Item < ActiveRecord::Base

Make a local copy of an S3 bucket

To make a local copy of an S3 bucket, I use the s3cmd command line tool.

Configure access keys:

s3cmd --configure

Make a local directory for the backup:

mkdir s3backup
cd s3backup

Get a preview of what we're going to copy:

s3cmd sync --dry-run s3://your-bucket-name-here .

Start copying files:

s3cmd sync s3://your-bucket-name-here .

Git: How to rebase your feature branch from one branch to another

In a nutshell: Use git rebase source-commit --onto target-branch

  • target-branch means "branch you want to be based on"
  • source-commit means "commit before your first feature commit"

Let's say my-feature-branch is based on master and we want it to be based on production. Consider this history (topmost = latest):

  • commit 6 [my-feature-branch]
  • commit 5
  • commit 4 [master]
  • commit 3
  • commit 2 [production]
  • commit 1

Here, master has commits that are not yet in production (number 3 and 4).


Heads up: Rails offers two similar means for text truncation

Rails defines a #truncate helper as well as a method String#truncate.

= truncate("my string", length: 5)
= "my string".truncate(5)

Both are really similar; in fact, the helper invokes the method and improves it with two niceties: support for passing a block (which could e.g. render a "read on" link), and html_safe knowledge.

Prefer the truncate() helper

The method knows nothing about html_safe and will always return an unsafe string. FWIW, an HTML string may easily become invalid when truncated, e.g. when a closing ta…


Git: Merge a single commit from another branch

This is called "cherry-picking".

git cherry-pick commit-sha1

Note that since branches are nothing but commit pointers, cherry-picking the latest commit of a branch is as simple as

git cherry-pick my-feature-branch

Be aware of Cherry picks to production branches!


How to fill in multiple lines in a textarea with cucumber

If you want to fill in textareas with multiple lines of text (containing line breaks) you can use Cucumber's docstrings:

And I fill in "Comment" with:

This is a long comment.
With multiple lines.

And paragraphs.

The step definition is part of the spreewald gem


Ruby constant lookup: The good, the bad and the ugly

In Ruby, classes and modules are called constants. This card explains how Ruby resolves the meaning of a constant.

The good

E. g. in the following example, Array could mean either Foo::Array or simply Array:

class Foo
  def list

What Ruby does here is to see if the name Array makes sense inside of Foo::, and if that fails, resolves it to ::Array (without a namespace).

The bad

You might be surprised that these are all valid ways to reference Ruby's String class:

Fix for Ruby 1.8.7 installation error

On some machines, installing Ruby 1.8.7 with ruby-build can lead to this error:

math.c:37:13: error: missing binary operator before token "("

Try instead to install ruby-1.8.7-p374.


How to find out what is running on a port on a remote machine

By convention, common protocols use a defined port, like 80 for HTTP or 443 for HTTPS.

You can use nmap to find out what service is running behind a given port, and most often see some details about it. This can be helpful if servers don't offer the services you expect for some ports. If you'd like to see what ports are listing on your local machine, you might want to use netstat instead of nmap.

Note that nmap's service discovery may trigger several requests.


When using nmap, adding the -A switch …


Heads up: RSpec's diffs may not tell the truth

RSpec provides a nice diff when certain matchers fail.

Here is an example where this diff is helpful while comparing two hashes:

{a:1}.should match(a:1, b:2)

Failure/Error: {a:1}.should match(a:1, b:2)
  expected {:a=>1} to match {:a=>1, :b=>2}
  @@ -1,3 +1,2 @@
   :a => 1,
  -:b => 2,

Unfortunately, this diff is not as clever as it would need to. RSpec's instance_of matchers will look like errors in the diff (even if they are not), and time objects that differ only in milliseconds won't appear in the …


Optimizing images for web

For webpages to load fast it's recommended to optimize images. Ideally an image's file size should be as small as possible while still being of decent quality. This card demonstrates two command line tools for image optimization

Use identify to fetch information about pictures. convert can change size/quality and strip meta information. Both commands are supplied by ImageMagick.

$ identify in.jpg
in.jpg JPEG 294x440 294x440+0+0 8-bit sRGB 92.8KB 0.000u 0:00.000
$ convert in.jpg -resize x220 -strip -quality 85 out.jpg
$ identify…

External content

JavaScript “Stale Practices” | benmccormick.org

The linked article lists a number of techniques that were best practices with ES5, but have better alternatives in modern JavaScript.

Best practices don’t last forever. This is especially true when a field is changing fast, and JavaScript development has changed a lot over the past 10 years. The old best practices go stale, and new ones take their place. Here are 5 JavaScript best practices that have gone stale recently.


RSpec: Expecting non-primitive objects as method invocation arguments

Expecting a primitive value as an argument to a method invocation is easy:

expect(object).to receive(:foo).with('arg1', 'arg2')

This expectation would be met with this call:

object.foo('arg1', 'arg2')

But what if the argument is expected to be an object with a given set of methods? E.g. this class with #first_name and #last_name methods:

class Person

  def initialize(first_name, last_name)
    @first_name = first_name
    @last_name = last_name
  attr_reader :first_name, :last_name

To just t…

External contentRepeats

SVGO: SVG Optimizer

SVG files are often much larger than necessary, containing comments, metadata, hidden elements etc.

Optimize them with this tool.

Note that for a properly scaling SVG, you need to keep the viewBox attribute. There's an option --disable=removeViewBox for this.


Designing HTML email

The 90s are calling: they want their tables back. Unfortunately, you'll need them all for laying out your HTML emails. (It is really that bad.)

Email client HTML rendering is way more scattered than browser HTML. While you might have a pretty good understanding of what features and patterns you can use to support all major browsers, I doubt anyone masters this craft for HTML email clients.

The only way to ensure your email looks good (acceptable, at least) in all mail clients, is to check it. Litmus is your go-to solu…


count vs. size on ActiveRecord associations


  • When counting records in an association, you should use #size in most cases.
  • It will not work if the parent record has never been saved. Also there are finer distinctions between #size and #count. See below.


  • Always makes a COUNT(*) query if a counter cache is not set up.
  • If a counter cache is set up on the association, #count will return that cached value instead of executing a new query.

size, if the association has already been loaded

  • Counts elements in the already loaded array.
  • Does not …
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