1. git-crypt - transparent file encryption in git

    Here at Compellotech we are using Octopus to automate all of our deployments for several years now. Recently we started to accommodate Infrastructure as Code (IAC) approach to simplify environments management. It allows us to spin new environments right from Octopus dashboard. We are using Azure Key Vault to store secret data (such as SSL Certificates). And I just came across an interesting alternative git-crypt. It looks very convenient.

    git-crypt enables transparent encryption and decryption of files in a git repository. Files which you choose to protect are encrypted when committed, and decrypted when checked out.

  2. SQL Server Managed Backup to Microsoft Azure

    Recently we migrated one of our projects to SQL Server 2016. As part of migration we enabled TDE for some databases. Next step was to configure backups. On our old SQL Server 2008 we already used to backup to Azure. It’s very convenient! So we were happy to use Managed Backup feature of SQL Server 2016. There is really good step-by-step tutorial on how to setup it on MSDN I just want to note that then you configure “instance level” backups, keep in mind that you will have to apply the same settings to existing databases manually. So it makes sense to first configure “Instance Level” backup settings and then restore your databases. It might save you a bit of time. It was a breeze to configure Managed Backup… very smooth experience. Highly recommend! …

  3. Rethink DB - The open-source database for the real-time web

    Couple of months ago I came across Rethink DB - The open-source database for the real-time web. I’m really interesting about real-time web tools and technologies. Last year I played with Meteor. And I still think it’s pretty nice framework. It’s great especially for simple projects. What I don’t like about Meteor is that you have to opt-in into all decisions them made. For example, you have to use MongoDB (at least at the moment) you can’t use npm packages (at least at the moment). As I know Meteor team is moving to elaborate these issues. As for Firebase it’s great, but again you have to opt-in and there is a possibility that you’ll have to switch from it at some point if your project does not fit well anymore. I’m looking into the stack which allows rapid development of real-time apps and in the same gives me all options. So I can easily make any decisions which fits better for the given project. That’s why Rethink DB looks so interesting. First of all it’s a powerful, easy to use and configure document database. You can configure sharding and replication in a few clicks. You can create cluster very easily again using fancy web UI!
    More other Rethink DB allows you to subscribe to change notifications. For example, NodeJS application would subscribe to changes in messages table in just a few lines and then it will push changes to clients using socket.io. Another use case is to send data into Elastic Search to allow full text search. The great thing is all aspects are under you control. You decide what exactly send to Elastic Search, so instead of sending the whole document you just send fields you want to be searchable. Same way you decide what to send do clients and you can easily customize that at any point. If you’d like to learn more about Rethink DB there is a great RethinkDB Fundamentals course at Pluralsight RethinkDB team recently released Horizon - realtime, open-source backend for JavaScript apps. As you can expect it’s using RethinkDB as a central component. …

  4. Smart Screen & EV Code Signing

    Recently our QA team started to get “Windows protected your PC” messages from the Windows SmartScreen. They saw that message each time they launch the app I’m working on at the moment. That warning message even didn’t display the Publisher correctly. We were able to make Smart Screen to show Publisher correctly by signing our application by the SHA-256 code signing certificate (we used SHA-1 originally). As for the warning message itself, we had to buy Extended Validation Code Signing Certificate to get rid of it. I want to note that you can keep using signtool.exe to sign binaries. But you can’t do that from the automated build scripts because you have to provide a password. That’s why we had to update our deployment strategy to make this to work. We added manual intervention step (we are using Octopus by the way) which allows us to sign binaries (by running a script and providing password). More details at stackoverflow Also mage.exe didn’t play well with EV Code Signing certificate - it didn’t ask for the password. As a result manifest was not signed correctly. Just in case here’s the warning message we were getting:

    <strong>Windows protected your PC</strong>
    Windows SmartScreen prevented an unrecognized app from starting. Running this app might put your PC at risk
    App: {OurAppName}.exe
    Publisher: Unknown

  5. Front-End development

    I did some research lately on ECMAScript 6 and ES6 Module Loader Polyfill and I’m very exited! That’s pretty cool how easy it is to use latest technologies (ES2015 or TypeScript) to develop browser applications and let the tools to transform latest & greatest into the JavaScript understood by the browser. Things such as jspm… that’s all so exiting!

  6. Consul - REST service discovery

    If you didn’t hear about Consul I encourage you to read a nice introduction to it. It looks really interesting

    • Service Discovery
    • Failure Detection
    • Multi Datacenter
    • Key/Value Storage
    More details at https://www.consul.io/

  7. Sauce labs

    Last week I came across a really efficient way on UI testing automation. Just imagine you don’t need anymore to configure all those VMs and devices to test your product! Source Labs allows:

    • Automated Cross Browser testing using Selenium for web apps on desktop and mobile browsers
    • Automated Mobile testing for native & hybrid mobile apps
    • Even Manual testing is possible on over 500 browser and platform configurations

  8. Best practices for DevOps, data storage, high availability, and more

    Just read Building Cloud Apps with Microsoft Azure. It’s available as a free ebook on Microsoft Virtual Academy. I’d like to say that it was a really interesting reading! In my opinion most of the patterns and ideas described in the book could be (and should be!) applied in on-premises as well. For example

    • Octopus allows you to setup a very nice DevOps workflow on-premises.
    • In any .NET application you will benefit from using Async/Await approach.
    • Any big application should have a good Monitoring and telemetry. I'm personally very happy with Serilog and Metrics.Net
    • Using Cache is a great idea for most of the applications. I'm a big fan of Redis
    • Dependency Injection is also a must have in most of applications. I like Simple Injector very much.
    • Queue-centric work pattern also could be applied in on-premises scenario. You would use RabbitMQ, Redis, Service Broker, etc. for that purpose

  9. Service Broker in a nutshell

    Lately I was looking into different Queuing Technologies to choose the best fit for the upcoming project. In that post I just want to summarize my finding. I was already familiar with Azure Service Bus and Rabbit MQ. But we didn’t need advanced routing capabilities they both provide, hence I decided to look into alternative solutions. By the way here’s a very nice Service Bus for Windows Server & RabbitMQ comparison. We were already using MS SQL Server to persist the data. So using Service Broker was an appealing choice from the very beginning. Advantages

    • Very easy to backup/restore
    • Sequential Delivery & Related Messages Locking (plus it allows to access internal Sequence ID & Sequence Number)
    • To en-queue message you should have a conversation first. It means you en-queue message into one queue and listen for messages to appear on another queue
    • Index fragmentation then Dealing with Large Queues
    Alternative solution is to use tables as queues. The main disadvantage of it is the lack of Activation. Which means you will have to Pull messages from the queue. While Service Broker, Rabbit MQ and others provide Push mechanism to notify listeners about newly added items. I highly recommend you to read in-death book on Service Broker Pro SQL Server 2008 Service Broker  so you will know better in which cases you can leverage Service Broker capabilities. …

  10. Meteor got Cordova support!

    I never mention it on the blog, but I really like Meteor framework it’s a really exciting way to build single page JavaScript application (running on NodeJS).

    Meteor is an open-source platform for building top-quality web apps in a fraction of the time, whether you're an expert developer or just getting started https://www.meteor.com/
    Today I was really excited to read that they are working on Cordova support. Supported Platform(s)
    • Android
    • iOS