Automate it. Today.

These last couple of years I’ve been reflecting every day on a Vision Wall that I keep in OneNote. It’s just a page with a bunch of images that remind me of things I’m working to build into my life.

One of the these pictures this year is around innovation.

Innovate It

Innovate. That word used to conjure up “Elon Musk-ish” level innovation. But no more. I now tell a different story about innovation.

My new innovation story is more about friction reduction. And automation.

Removing the Friction

Imagine if you could remove a small percentage of the friction you experience every day delivering software. How great would that feel? Annoying tasks gone forever.

The crazy thing is that automation - using robots to do our boring work - lets us actually do that, but often we put it off since we figure we’re just doing a “one off”. Or it would be too fiddly or time consuming to automate.

Interestingly I used to work with a guy who was completely the other way around. He wouldn’t even copy a file to a floppy without creating a batch file to do it (since he figured he’d be doing it again real soon now).

I think he was onto something.

[Read More]

Blogging into 2018

Wow! We’re into 2018 already and I haven’t blogged for months and months. That’s such a shame because I’ve been doing so much cool stuff. So it’s time to get back on the horse!

New PWA Pluralsight Course in Flight

I’m presently working on new Pluralsight Course related to Progressive Web Apps and Sensor Integration. I’m still scripting but there’s tons of cool stuff in there.

It’s called Sights and Sounds

Sights and Sounds Logo

But not just any travel app. We’ll be developing a lightweight PWA on your handset and:

  • Taking photos;
  • Recording videos;
  • Lauching Notifications;
  • Interacting with Fullscreen
  • Doing Geo & directions;
  • Launching native apps;
  • Sensing network access and coping with it
  • Doing offline sync magic with Firebase (including image upload)

I am so pumped about it. It’s pretty scratchy at the moment, but it’ll get there:

Sights and Sounds Screenshot

Discovering Polymer

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Shrink Your Angular CLI Production Builds with Source Map Explorer

So what’s really going on with all those dist/*.bundle.js files that Webpack spits out of the Angular CLI generation process?

This video will give you a five minute way to have a look for yourself - and get ideas to shrink your production build sizes. The magic tool you need is Source Map Explorer.

I learned this tip from Jim Cooper’s excellent Pluralsight course on “Angular Best Practices“ and thought it we be good to pass on in a way you can add to your own projects.

First then vid, or read on for the commands I added to package.json.

First we’re going to install Source Map Explorer. I’m going to do things locally, since I like the idea of the project being self contained:

npm install source-map-explorer --save-dev --save-exact

Because source-map-explorer is a lot to type, I’ll create a little alias for it:

"scripts": {
    "sme": "source-map-explorer"

Now to use Source Map Explorer, you’re clearly going to need some source maps! You generate those by adding --sourcemaps=true to your prod build. To keep things DRY, I like to just decorate the dist target with my own dist-with-maps target. Something like this:

[Read More]

Digital Detox for Programmers

We need to talk about email.

That’s what I wrote in my daily journal.

But really it was more about device checking. Desktop, Handset, whatever.

Constant. Device. Checking.

And I was exhausted. I needed an intervention.

But… I’m a programmer, right?

I get it. You need to be online, right? All the time, right?

I won’t speak for you, but living with this “constant on” mindset was just draining my batteries.

During the day the browser always had an email and twitter tab open.

My phone was always beside me in the evenings, just a quick check every so often for new email, twitter, and newsfeed action. Quick email replies and keep that inbox trimmed.

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First Experiences with ngrx

The last few months have been jam packed full of awesome. Totally living the dream right now.

On the back of my Pluralsight “Building Beautiful Angular Apps with PrimeNG“ course, I landed an awesome consulting gig building a very cool PrimeNG front-end.

The double-cool part of this gig is that the backend is totally asynchronous with lots of concurrent user changes coming over websockets. This was a great chance to apply a lot of the RxJS “Reactive Angular” stuff I’d been learning about over the last few months. That stuff is rocket fuel..

But everything has its limits.

I was soon lost in a maze of Observables and spiraling in a technical debt of state mutation.

Enter ngrx.

If you haven’t bumped into ngrx before, it’s about applying the new hotness of Redux-style applications to Angular, but built on RxJS.

ngrx eats state for breakfast

The Benefits of ngrx

How does this ngrx stuff help my async plight?

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What's new?

Phew! It’s been a crazy few months and I have totally been off the blogging and the YouTube horse as I worked hard to get my first Pluralsight course off the ground: “Building Beautiful Angular Applications with PrimeNG”.

The great news is that PluralSight is pulling together the launch video right now - so we’re really, really close!

So what’s next?

That’s an awesome question.

And the answer is… more PrimeNG!

I’m excited to say that I’m currently working on a short-term commercial consulting gig using Angular/PrimeNG - so I’m definitely dog-fooding my enthusiasm for both frameworks.

PrimeNG for a living

I’ve decided to move toward online teaching for the next season of my life - but I’ve always felt the best teachers are the ones working in the field, so it’s important to me to keep my hand in professional development work (outside of just “professional training”).

It’s actually been really confronting to sit down and work out a professional growth plan for myself as a programmer. 20 years in, and there’s still so many fundamentals that I get slack about.. (blog posts coming on “leveling up” soon..)

But that’s what’s so great about our profession. There is always a growth goal to stretch toward - or something new to learn - and the disruption never stops!

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My PrimeNG Pluralsight Course - Now Recording

The time has finally come!

After several weeks of scripting and code samples, the day has finally arrived to click record and get this show on the road. We’ve started recording this:

Building Beautiful Angular Applications with PrimeNG

The good news is that I’m really happy with how this course has shaped up, and I think developers are really going to warm to it.

Inside this course we build a… TADA… Enterprise Timesheeting app called “Agile Times”. This app gives us a great showcase of everything PrimeNG.

We start out with learning about the Prime Grid system to create funky stats components for our Dashboard (thank you Font Awesome), then dive into a world of snazzy charting to get your motivated.

Charting our Dashboard

We then cover off all the common form controls people will want to use - all backed by Reactive Angular Forms to keep it real - along with matching DRY/low-ceremony validation techniques!

With some early wins up our sleeve, we dive into filterable, sortable, searchable, paginatable data grids. To make is a bit more real-worldy, but without the overhead of installing 3rd party Dbs, we back our grid with a sizeable IndexedDb (powered by Dexie) to give us that familiar ORM-styling querying that devs will probably be using. Plus we can marvel at Prime’s Lazy Loading magic which keeps it all zippy.

Datagrids with Lazy Loading

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PrimeNG defaulting chart colours

I’m deep into a Pluralsight course on PrimeNG, and have started to cover some of the niceties of PrimeNG charts.

The charting component is a wrapper around Chart.js, and one of the.. um.. interesting parts of the very cool Chart.js is that it has no default slice/bar colours.

Turns out this is a much requested feature and someone on that very thread went to the trouble of putting together a nice set of colours based around Google Charts.


I don’t want to hand-assign the colours each time.


The challenge: Write a function that will take an arbitrarily long pie chart dataset, and assign funky complimentary chart colours to each slice (so that the colour selection wraps around after depleting the set of funky colours).

Here’s my stab. First, setup a constant at the top of your TypeScript controller:

const DEFAULT_COLORS = ['#3366CC', '#DC3912', '#FF9900', '#109618', '#990099',
'#3B3EAC', '#0099C6', '#DD4477', '#66AA00', '#B82E2E',
'#316395', '#994499', '#22AA99', '#AAAA11', '#6633CC',
'#E67300', '#8B0707', '#329262', '#5574A6', '#3B3EAC']

Then inside the class, setup a routine to map the dataset into our set of default colours for each pie:

[Read More]

PrimeNG is coming to Pluralsight

As you may know, I’ve been a big fan of PrimeNG for some time (and Primefaces before that!), so I’m super excited to announce that I’ve officially inked the paperwork and started working on a course for Pluralsight around PrimeNG.

Agile Times with PrimeNG

I’ve done a bunch of YouTube training videos before, but have always wanted to try my hand at the Pluralsight training thing since I’ve always loved their style.

Pluralsight really do have a super high bar for production quality, so I’m looking forward to stretching out and leveling up my online training skills - which will also benefit my YouTube channel!

I’ve spend today digging into the sample code for the Charting module, where I’ll be teaching charting “from zero to hero” culminating with coding up real-time, mixed style charts like this bad boy:

Multiple Chart Types with Dynamic Refresh

As a side effect, I know finally understand switchMap() in RxJS! So much winning!

Anyways, can’t wait to get started recording. Will keep you all posted on the progress over the next two months or so.

[Read More]

Configuring PrimeNG Charting with Angular CLI

Just a quick one for those struggling to get the PrimeNG charting components rendering. You might be importing the ChartModule just fine, and even setting up your component tags and data, but all you’re getting in the console is something like:

Error: Error in ./DashboardComponent class DashboardComponent - inline template:22:4 caused by: Chart is not defined

The bit of info you’re missing is that all of the PrimeNG charting components rely on you bundling Chart.js with your application. That’s the JavaScript library that supplies the Chart in Chart is not defined.

The easiest way to do that with Angular CLI is to first install the NPM package with:

npm install chart.js --save

Then bundle the library with your build by editing the angular-cli.json file in your root directory to include it in the scripts array like so:

"scripts": [

With those in-place, you’ll be ready to Chart up a storm.

Have fun!

Now you know the hack

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Using JQuery (and Semantic UI) with Angular CLI

I keep solving this problem, so it’s time to write it down for my future self!

I know your story. You want to use jQuery inside an Angular CLI app, but the whole WebPack magic is turning everything bad.

Or perhaps things are even more complex. You want to use a 3rd party product, like Semantic UI, which augments existing jQuery objects in global scope, from your Angular CLI app, and it’s not happening for you.

Your web searches are awash with old advice.

This is the page you have been looking for.

Here’s something that works with 1.0.0-beta.31 of the CLI (and probably earlier WebPack-based versions too).

Watch the vid on YouTube, or scroll down for the steps in text form

First, npm install the libraries you need

In my case, I’m working with Semantic UI. This framework both has CSS and JS component - and depends on jQuery for heavy lifting.

[Read More]

Angular Masterclass Day 3 and Final Retro

After a day of Observables on Day Two, the final day of the Masterclass was focused around forms and routing.

Here’s my typo-laden gitlog for the day to give you an idea of content pace and the type of exercises we worked on:

Day 3 Gitlog Doesn't Lie

Both Kinds of Music: Template and Reactive forms

A good portion of the day was spent working with both Template-Driven and Reactive Forms in Angular - and getting a really good feel for where each of them shine.

I’ve never been much of a fan of Reactive Forms - they seemed like a separation of concerns that I didn’t want to separate - but I have a new respect for them after yesterday (I particularly love the idea of being able to unit test that validation magic in a vanilla unit test).

I now like both approaches - and look forward to road testing both in larger forms apps to give me a real feel for what has the lowest friction.

Here’s the vanity screencast of yesterday’s hacking efforts:

A Survey of Day 3

We also wrote our first custom validator - and used it in both Template and Reactive approaches. Validation code is another area where Reactive’s FormBuilder really shines - super straightforward and clear to read afterwards.

[Read More]

Angular Masterclass Day 2 Retro

Wow. Things just got seriously master-level at the Masterclass! Day Two really did build on Day One, kicking off with the wonders of the Async pipe.

It was actually great to start out with Async Pipe, since it let us convert our little Contacts application to an Observable architecture and ditch all the dodgy *ngIf code and null checking we’d crammed into to play nice with the async http calls.

Getting Serious With Observables

Async was really the theme for the day, and the exercises came steadily throughout the day to make sure we were grabbing the concepts as they were introduced. There’s a lot to love about Observables, but it took the day to really appreciate what they bring to the table.

Here’s my typo-laden gitlog for the day to give you an idea of content pace and the type of exercises we worked on:

Day 2 Gitlog Doesn't Lie

Making friends with RxJS - switchMap(), takeUntil(), Oh My!

Christoph and Thomas took us on a tour of the hardcore range of Rx operators that are helpful when working with Observables. Even with marble diagrams, some of these concepts pretty much blew our minds!

Major. Paradigm. Shift.

As a last mic drop before the switchMap() exercise Christoph told us “you’ll work it out” - then pointed it at the lab to learn-by-doing.

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Angular Masterclass Day 1 Retro

Well, yesterday was Day One of the thoughtram Angular Masterclass in Sydney and I’m having a ball and learning heaps.

I thought I’d write up a quick retro to give people an idea of the experience.

On our first day we build a thing! And that thing did CRUDing operations on RESTful service. And did Databinding and all that Angular-ish goodness.

In fact, the first day is called their “Jumpstart” day where you cover all the basics to get everyone on the same page.

This is what I spent the day building:

We Built a Thing

thoughtram’s Approach

I’ve always been a fan of the “Training from the Back of the Room” approach (actually all of Sharon Bowman’s stuff is awesome), and the thoughtram guys definitely train in that school - 20 minute intense “downloads” of information with Q&A, followed by labs to put it all into practice.

All their training presentation notes are browser-based and accessed by a participant login on their website. The notes are updated for the life of the course (which is awesome!)

Ditto for the lab exercises - which are all hosted on Github repos and constantly updated with tweaks.

[Read More]

2016 Year In Review

I’ve had a cracker this year. It might well have been one of the best years of my life!

Didn’t write a book. Didn’t have a baby. Didn’t ship a world-beating app. Didn’t speak at any big gigs. Didn’t finish a marathon. Didn’t make a ton of money. Or even have something go viral.

Nope. None of those things.

This year I took bold actions toward things that matter to me.

That is all.

And that is more than enough.

Creating Software.

Wrote some great software for clients that makes their lives easier and more productive. Even delivered my own hobby app to make my own life easier.

Puppymail rocks

Creating Video.

[Read More]

Configuring Yarn to use Nexus

I’ve been a huge fan of Nexus for inhouse proxying of Maven artefacts for years. I’ve used it at heaps of government sites where it was a hassle to get internet access through content proxies, and it’s been a life saver. But you might not know that Nexus is also awesome for proxying NPM, Bower and even Docker images.

If you need to configure your local npm to point to Nexus, there’s awesome docs on that.

Yarn is npm with win

However, I’ve now started experimenting with yarn, Facebook’s drop in replacement for npm (but quite a bit faster!), and so was naturally wondering how to configure it to use my local Nexus proxy.

Turns out it’s simply a matter of:

yarn config set registry http://localhost:8081/repository/npm-central/

And you’re off and running. I thought I would write it down so I can google it later!

You can confirm that life is great, but tailing your /nexus/log/request.log and watch the traffic flowing (or try a yarn install --verbose and sit back!).

Have fun!

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Painless Push Notifications with Pushover

I have to say that Push Notifications are just super cool.

Think how cool would it be to make your Mobile ding with a custom sound every time a really important event happened in one of your systems?

  • Just sold another one of your apps? Cash Register Ding.
  • Just crashed your production server? Death Spiral ding.
  • Just crossed an 100k subs? Happy Sound ding.

Way cooler than SMS :-).

And it turns out adding such features into your app is totally trivial thanks to the good folk at And today I’m going to show you how!

Enter Pushover

Pushover is a web service (and suite of platform specific mobile apps for Android, IoS and the Browser) that lets you easily push Notifications to all (or one) of your registered devices whenever you would like.

It’s a one-off $5 subscription cost per platform, then you’re free to send up to 7500 notifications month forever. That’s a lot of events! is win

Integrating with Ionic 2 or Angular 2 (or whatever)

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The Thoughtram guys are coming to Sydney!

And I’m so there!

It’s no surprise to any of my friends that I’ve doubled-down hard on Angular 2 this year. I built PuppyMail to learn all about serverless Angular apps with Firebase, taught a 21 days of Angular YouTube course, spoke at a Meetup on Angular 2 for Java Devs, and have lately been diving in hard on Ionic 2 (think of Ionic 2 as Angular 2 for Hybrid Mobile apps).

Love Teaching on YouTube

But there’s so much more to learn! I’m only scratching the surface of Observables, Forms, Unit Testing, DI scoping and lots more!

As you may know, I’m a massive fan of Hobby Projects for levelling up. I even did an eight-part YouTube Series on Shipping Your Hobby Project in 30 days. But I’m also a massive fan of osmosis in community. Of hanging out with guys and girls that are further along the road than you, and leveraging off that talent and experience.

So when I heard the legends from Thoughtram are coming to Sydney to teach their Angular 2 Masterclass I was super pumped! These guys are committers on Angular 2, Angular Material, and prolific bloggers - you’re probably read some of their (hardcore) blog posts while researching Angular 2 stuff.

This is going to be an awesome opportunity from best-in-class Angular 2 folk in our own backyard - from Jan 9-11. Can’t wait to hang out with them! (and not sure why this is the first I heard of it - but now you know too!).

Thoughtram Angular 2 Master Class

If you live in AU/NZ and are keen for a Sydney trip, why not come and hang out! There are still tickets!

Where to stay?

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Lessons from my first Angular2 app

I’m totally convinced that the best way to learn anything is through having a hobby project. I’m so convinced about that, that I created a free 8-lesson YouTube course around that topic!

Well I’ve just finished “walking the talk” of that course - a 31 day streak of moving a hobby project forward from zero to basic features complete:

31 Day Streak To Get it Home

Learning Goals

I developed a small Angular 2 application, with a few very simple goals:

  • Learn about using Firebase for Backend Storage (essentially a serverless* application)
  • Create an app I actually need. In my case, that was an app to make use of my Pocket links when generating eNewsletter (in my case the Motivated Programmer newsletter. You should sign up!)
  • Build something substantial in Angular 2 and get a feel for whether I’d like it on larger apps.

So I birthed “PuppyMail” to scratch that itch.

The Rise of PuppyMail

Well PuppyMail delivered in spades on those three objectives. With the TL/DR being:

  • Firebase is all kinds of awesome. Particularly when coupled with AngularFire2.
  • I could deliver “Cradle to Grave” on all the basic features that I wanted in this app in 29 hours - or basically a month of hobby hacking every day.
  • Angular 2 all the things! I love this framework so much.
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Setting up PrimeNG with the Angular CLI

I loved hacking on Primefaces when I was working fulltime in JSF2. In fact, the whole component-based development thing is really what attracted me to Angular 2.

But since switching, I’ve really been looking for a solid component library to get work done. I’ve been having great success with Semantic UI for styling, but nothing beats being able to bind a paginated list to an Array and getting all the strong typing!

Enter PrimeNG aka Primefaces for Angular 2! This library brings all the stunning engineering and pragmatism from Primefaces to the Angular 2 domain. And it totally rocks!

Here’s that list of my PocketEntries rendering in a PrimeNG paginated OrderList. In the words of Kanye, “Enjoy the greatness!”

PrimeNG OrderList in Action

And there are only a few lines of code backing all that magic.

But the $1M question is, “How do you integrate it with the Angular CLI?”

Turns out that it’s a snack…

Integrating PrimeNG with Angular CLI

I’m sure the existing setup page will cover all this at some stage. But until then, here’s the steps you’ll need to use PrimeNG with Angular CLI.

[Read More]

Pocket Casts is WIN for Podcasts

Now that I’ve established some routines around my exercise habits, I’m finding that I’m listening to a lot more podcasts. And there is some epic free content out there these days (more on that later).

A short rant about Pocket Casts awesomeness..

What I really wanted to talk about today was how much I’m enjoying Pocket Casts as a player for Android (though I used it on Windows Phone originally, and it ships for iPhone too).

Of course it has:

  1. Great navigation (with multiple options - by date / by show /etc); and
  2. The ability to play back at variable speed (which I love so much - everything is better at 1.5x); and
  3. A sensible draggable way to manage your “up next” queue of episodes for long runs; and
  4. Easily see what’s “in progress” so you can finish things up or swipe them out of there; and
  5. Lots of slick UI goodness with swipe left to mark done, cool progress circles for time left, etc

But the thing I really love about it is the syncing! If you pay them just a few $ more for Web access, you can manage all your subscriptions via a browser on your PC.

Better still, because everything is synced, you can easily pick up the episode your were playing on your phone, and listen to a bit more on your PC, and everything remembers where you’re up to!

Pocket Casts on the Web is Capital A Awesome

So, whatcha listening to these days?

I’m always a bit interested in what people are listening to in the Podcast department, so here are a few of my faves, in case you need some more commute/exercise background listening action…

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How To Ship Your Hobby Project in 30 Days

A few days ago I started a new series on YouTube called Ship Your Hobby Project in 30 Days and I’m really enjoying it.

One of the best ways to level up as a programmer is by having a side project. It gives you a great way to learn something new by actually doing (the best way to learn) - and also gives you an internal motivation bump through the exhilaration of shipping.

And I’m all about the shipping.

It's all about shipping

A whole bunch of people have been gradually coming on board and signing up for my Motivated Programmer newsletter to keep themselves honest and moving forward. And they’ve been keeping themselves honest by sending my their one-sentence app descriptions. It’s been awesome!

I’ve found the people signing up super positive and have been joining in the fun myself. We’ve just completed the lesson 3 on Wireframing and Just Enough Planning where we used to smash through our wireframing and module planning.

Here’s my whiteboard version for accountability:

Wireframe and Minimal Plan for PuppyMail

If your GitHub repo is full of half-finished stuff, and you’re keen to jump into a community that is non-judgement, it’s totally worth hanging out with us. First step is to spend just 10 minutes a day and start working your way through Ship Your Hobby Project in 30 Days.

Can’t wait to show off what the students build next month. Super exited!

[Read More]

Securing Angular 2 Routes with OAuth and Firebase

Today on the show we explore securing Angular 2 routes. And we’ll use OAuth, Firebase and Google (or your preferred OAuth provider) to get us there.

You can grab the source on the GitHub Repo.

Don’t forget to Subscribe to my Fresh Bytecode channel for regular Java/Web-related screencasts

Here’s the script if you’d like to follow along at home!

[ ] Discuss the plan for today - use Google authentication to login to your app. Pluck Image URLs along the way.

[ ] Check out last weeks show to get up to speed on the QOTD app

[ ] Turn on authentication in your application (auth/signin method)

[ ] Configure your module to turn on authentication methods you prefer

export const firebaseAuthConfig = {
  provider: AuthProviders.Google,
  method: AuthMethods.Popup

// and in imports...
AngularFireModule.initializeApp(firebaseConfig, firebaseAuthConfig),
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Hacking a Serverless QOTD App with Angular2, Firebase and AngularFire2

Serverless architectures are so hot right now! Today on the show we dive into Firebase with Angular2 using the AngularFire2 library.

We’ll be a dynamic Quote of the Day application which updates from the server in real time. Get out of here! Real time!

You can grab the code for today’s episode on GitHub.

Real Time Quote Action

Don’t forget to Subscribe to my Fresh Bytecode channel for regular Java/Web-related screencasts

Here’s the script so you can follow along at home:

[ ] Discuss the plan for today - use remote db to populate a list of quotes - with live update when server changes

[ ] Create a new app

ng new qotd
[Read More]