Error handling in DOM event listeners

When an event listener on a DOM element throws an error, that error will be silenced and not interrupt your program.

In particular, other event listeners will still be called even after a previous listener threw an error. Also the function that emitted the event (like element.dispatchEvent() or up.emit()) will not throw either.

In the following example two handlers are listening to the foo event. The first handler crashes, th...

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Updated: Inspecting a live Ruby process

Updated the gdb-inspect card with instructions for Ruby 2.4+.

Ruby 2.4+

TL;DR live inspection:

# First, find out the PID of your Ruby process (e.g. passenger-status)
$ gdb PID
(gdb) generate-core-file                  # generate core.PID file for later inspection
(gdb) t a a bt                            # thread apply all backtrace
(gdb) call (void) close(1)                # close the existing file descriptors for std...

Async control flow in JavaScript: Promises, Microtasks, async/await

Slides for Henning's talk on Sep 21st 2017.

Understanding sync vs. async control flow

Talking to synchronous (or "blocking") API

print('script start')
html = get('/foo')
print('script end')

Script outputs 'script start', (long delay), '<html>...</html>', 'script end'.

Talking to asynchronous (or "evented") API

print('script start')
get('foo', done: function(html) {
print('script end')

Script outputs 'script start', `'...

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Cucumber: Identifying slow steps that drag down your test speed

In most projects I know, Cucumber test suite speed is not an issue. Of course, running 350 features takes its time, but still each test for itself is reasonably fast. There is nothing you can do to fundamentally speed up such a test (of course, you should be using parallel_tests).

However, in projects that go beyond clicking around in a web GUI and checking results, there might be various measures to speed things up. Katapult tests for example could be sped up more than 4 times by re...

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Printing background color of elements

Browsers' printing methods usually don't print background colors. In most cases this is the desired behavior, because you don't want to spent tons of ink printing the background of a web page. But in some cases you want to print the background color of elements, e.g. bars of a chart. For those elements you need to set the following css styles:

-webkit-print-color-adjust: exact; /* Chrome and Safari */
color-adjust: exact; /* Firefox */

Note that if you're using autoprefixer, you don't need...

Bash: How to use colors in your tail output

Sometimes it's nice to have some coloring in your logs for better readability. You can output your logs via tail and pipe this through sed to add ANSI color annotations (which your console then interprets).

To print a log (e.g. rails log) and color all lines containing "FATAL" in red and all lines with "INFO" in green:

tail -f /path/to/log | sed --unbuffered -e 's/\(.*INFO.*\)/\o033[32m\1\o033[39m/' -e 's/\(.*FATAL.*\)/\o033[31m\1\o033[39m/'

Here are the ...

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Inspecting a live Ruby process

How to get a backtrace from a running Ruby process:

Ruby 2.4+

TL;DR to get the backtrace of a live process (sudo required):

# First, find out the PID of your Ruby process (e.g. passenger-status)
$ sudo gdb -p PID
(gdb) generate-core-file                  # generate a core.PID file for later inspection
(gdb) t a a bt                            # thread apply all backtrace
(gdb) call (void) close(1)                # close...
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Running Rspec examples by name, or: Running a single shared example

When an Rspec example fails, I usually investigate by running that example again using rspec <file:line>. However, this does not work with shared examples, since Rspec doesn't know in which context the shared example should be run.

But there is a different way: You can run the shared example using the -e, --example option. It takes a string value and runs all scenarios containing that substring in their full description.

This allows you to run a single uniquely named example, all examples with
similar names, all the examples in a u...

Geordi 2.7.0 released

  • Fixed #68: The "cucumber" command now fails early when @solo features fail.
  • Added: The "setup" command now prints the db adapter when prompting db credentials.
  • Fixed #71: When used without staged changes, the "commit" command will print a warning and create an empty commit. Any arguments to the command are forwarded to Git.
  • Fixed: The "commit" command will not print the extra message any more.
  • Added: The "commit" command prints a (progre...

Linux, Arial and Helvetica: Different font rendering in Firefox and Chrome

When text renders differently in Firefox and Chrome, it may be caused by a font alias that both browsers handle differently.


A machine running Linux, and a website with the Bootstrap 3 default font-family: "Helvetica Neue", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif.


Anti-aliasing and kerning of text looks bad in Firefox. Worse, it is rendered 1px lower than in Chrome (shifted down).


Firefox resolves "Helvetica" to an installed ["TeX Gyre Heros", which is its Ghostscript clone](

How to enable Chromedriver logging

When using Chrome for Selenium tests, the chromedriver binary will be used to control Chrome. To debug problems that stem from Selenium's Chrome and/or Chromedriver, you might want to enable logging for the chromedriver itself. Here is how.

Option 1: Use Selenium::WebDriver::Service

In your test setup, you may already have something like, browser: :chrome, options: ...), especially when passing options like device emulation.

Similar to options, simply add an extra key service and pass an ins...


PSA: Umlauts are not always what they seem to be

When you have a string containing umlauts which don't behave as expected (are not matched with a regexp, can't be found with an SQL query, do not print correctly on LaTeX documents, etc), you may be encountering umlauts which are not actually umlaut characters.

They look, depending on the font, like their "real" umlaut counterpart:

  • ä ↔ ä
  • ö ↔ ö
  • ü ↔ ü

However, they are not the same:

>> 'ä' == 'ä'
=> false
>> 'ä'.size
=> 1
>> 'ä'.size
=> 2

Looking at how those strings are constructed reveals what is going...

Joining PDFs with Linux command line

There are several ways to merge two (or more) PDF files to a single file using the Linux command line.

If you're looking for graphical tools to edit or annotate a PDF, we have a separate card for that.


The pdfjoin binary from pdfjam is probably already installed on your system. Usage:

pdfjoin one.pdf two.pdf --outfile out.pdf

Pages from joined documents might be rotated. To avoid this, call it like this:

pdfjoin one.pdf two.pdf --outfile out.pdf --paper a4paper --rotateoversize false



Google Analytics: Change the tracked URL path

By default, Google Analytics tracks the current URL for every request. Sometimes you will want to track another URL instead, for example:

  • When an application URL contains a secret (e.g. an access token)
  • When you want to track multiple URLs under the same bucket
  • When you want to track interactions that don't have a corresponding URL + request (e.g. a Javascript button or a PDF download)

Luckily the Analytics code snippet allows you to freely choose what path is being tracked. Simple change this:

ga('send', 'pageview');

... to th...


Matching unicode characters in a Ruby (1.9+) regexp

On Ruby 1.9+, standard ruby character classes like \w, \d will only match 7-Bit ASCII characters:

"foo" =~ /\w+/   # matches "foo"
"füü" =~ /\w+/   # matches "f", ü is not 7-Bit ASCII

There is a collection of character classes that will match unicode characters. From the documentation:

  • /[[:alnum:]]/ Alphabetic and numeric character
  • /[[:alpha:]]/ Alphabetic character
  • /[[:blank:]]/ Space or tab
  • /[[:cntrl:]]/ Control character
  • /[[:digit:]]/ Digit
  • /[[:graph:]]/ Non-blank character (excludes spaces, co...
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Ruby blocks: Braces and do/end have different precedence

Braces and do/end are completely swappable—almost all the time. They have different precedence. It’s not often that anyone comes across what this means in practice.

TL;DR {} binds stronger than do…end (as always in Ruby, special characters bind stronger than words)


Right way

names = ['bRUce', 'STaN', 'JOlIE']

# Blocks in braces are passed to the rightmost method
print { |name| name.downcase }
print( do |name| name.downcase end) # equivalent
=> ["bruce", "stan", "jolie"]

Wrong way



ActionMailer: Preview mails directly in your email client

In Rails, we usually have a mailer setup like this:

class MyMailer < ActionMailer::Base

  def newsletter
    mail to: 'receiver@host.tld',
      from: 'sender@host.tld',
      subject: 'My mail'


If you want to preview your mail in the browser, you can use the Action Mailer Preview. To inspect the mail directly in your email client, just create an .eml file and open it with your client:

mail = MyMailer.newsletter

Guide to localizing a Rails application

Localizing a non-trivial application can be a huge undertaking. This card will give you an overview over the many components that are affected.

When you are asked to give an estimate for the effort involved, go through the list below and check which points are covered by your requirements. Work with a developer who has done a full-app localization before and assign an hour estimate to each of these points.

Static text

  • Static strings and template text in app must be translated: Screens, mailer templates, PDF templates, helpe...
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