New Pluralsight Course - Implementing Feature Toggles in .NET with FeatureToggle

Feature toggles (also referred to as feature flags, flippers, feature switches, etc) are a technique to turn on or off features in applications. One way of categorising feature toggles is whether they are for the benefit of the development team (“release toggles”) or the business/stakeholders (“business toggles”). Release toggles are an alternative/compliment to feature branching and are short lived. Business toggles are long lived and represent application features that are enabled depending on business defined rules.

In my new Pluralsight course Implementing Feature Toggles in .NET with FeatureToggle I talk about the different types of toggles and some general things to consider when using toggles, followed by modules showing how to use the FeatureToggle open source library.

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New Pluralsight Course - Introduction to .NET Testing with NUnit

If you are just dipping your toe in the water when it comes to testing .NET applications it can be a bit confusing. In addition to learning how and what to write test, you also have to learn a testing framework such as MSTest, xUnit.net, NUnit, etc.

My new beginner Pluralsight course helps you to get started with testing in .NET and how to use the NUnit testing framework.

Watch the course at the above link or get to it from my Pluralsight author page.

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New Pluralsight Course - Automated ASP.NET MVC Testing: End to End

My new Pluralsight course Automated ASP.NET MVC Testing: End to End was just published.

The course looks at tools and techniques to be able to tests models, controller actions, Razor view rendering logic, and implement automated functional UI browser testing.

The course wraps up by showing how to design and implement a continuous integration build in TeamCity that runs the tests created during the course.

Check it out the full table of contents.

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Beyond Simple Asserts with ApprovalTests

In a test, we are often testing (asserting) individual items such as an (int) age is correct or a string matches an expected value.

If we are practicing test-first development we’ll write our asserts first.

Approval tests allow us to go beyond simple asserts.

What if the thing we’re checking is not a simple value, for example that a pie chart image matches the input data? Or what if we want to use our human judgement to decide when something looks correct, something that is hard to codify in one or more basic asserts?

ApprovalTests for .NET can be install via NuGet. Once installed, it gives us a whole new world when it comes to checking the output of code.

For example, say we are developing a class to represent a stickman. We want to be able to tell an instance to raise left arm or raise right leg for example.

Example of Using Approval Tests

So lets start with a test:

[Fact]
[UseReporter(typeof(DiffReporter))]
public void ShouldHaveDefaultPosture()
{
    var sut = new StickMan();

    Approvals.Verify(sut);
}

And an empty StickMan:

public class StickMan
{        
}

Here we’re using xUnit.net (the [Fact] attribute) but you could be using NUnit for example.

The first thing to notice here is there is no traditional Assert method, instead we’re using Approval Tests to verify the state of the system under test (sut).

The other think to notice is the [UseReporter] attribute that tells Approval Tests to use a diff tool to display errors when a test fails.

If we run this test, we’ll get a diff tool opened:

More...

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New Pluralsight Course - Improve Your Application User Experience with Humanizer

My new Pluralsight course Making .NET Data Types More Human With Humanizer was recently released.

With Humanizer our application user experience can be improved. For example we’ve all seen (and probably written) applications that just add “(s)” to a list of things: “1 order(s)” rather that adding the “s” only when there is more than 1 order.

Another use case is the Humanization of DateTimes. For example in a logging application we’d probably want the log entry date and time right down to the millisecond. In a Twitter app for example, that level of detail is not essential to the user experience; in this instance Humanizer can give us a string such as “2 hours ago” which is a lot easier on the eye.

Check out the GitHub site, give a shout out to the creator Mehdi Khalili on Twitter, or watch the Pluralsight course here.

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Building the Right Thing with TestStack

My newest Pluralsight course was just released today: Building the Right Thing in .NET with TestStack.

TestStack is a suite of tools to help the team build better software.

The super-friendly members of TestStack are:

  • Jake Ginnivan
  • Krzysztof Koźmic
  • Mehdi Khalili
  • Michael Whelan
  • Robert Moore

TestStack consists of the following tools:

  • BDDfy: turn tests into business readable, living documentation
  • Seleno: automated UI web testing with strongly-typed page object models
  • FluentMVCTesting: unit test ASP.NET MVC controllers using fluent syntax
  • White: automated UI testing for Win32 based rich client applications
  • ConventionTests: write tests to check coding conventions are being adhered to

To get started learning the TestStack tools check out the Pluralsight course, the documentation site, or learn how to contribute to the TestStack project.

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10 Pluralsight Courses–A Milestone

I just had my 10th Pluralsight course released; Building .NET Console Applications in C# teaches how to create well-designed, fully-featured .NET Console applications.

When I hit 7 courses I wrote Three Things I’ve Learned Being a Pluralsight Course Author and those learnings still stand but there’s three other things that I think I also appreciate more now.

1 Continuous Improvement

As the saying goes: practice really does make perfect; though aiming for “perfection” is probably not a path to happiness. To paraphrase Mother Teresa: don’t try to do great things in this life, just do small things with great love.

We did not weave the web of life, we are merely strands in it

Continuous improvement doesn’t just apply to code, it applies to ourselves as a whole. A the name of this site implies, if we don’t take good care of our health (mental, physical, spiritual) then our code will be affected adversely. We know this from our own experience, we can bang our head against a problem and stay late for hours only to leave work without success, feeling tired and unproductive. The next morning we start work and solve the problem in 10 minutes. We are not machines, we shouldn’t think of ourselves as such. We are not Human Resources, we’re just Human.

I’ve learnt loads by being a Pluralsight author, maybe one day I’ll make it to 20 courses, there’s one thing for sure: my 20th course will be better than my 1st. We should all look for and feel a sense of progress, if we aren’t then maybe it’s time to revaluate our circumstances.

The goal of getting better and making progress is, I think, a better goal than becoming perfect.

2 Gratitude

No matter how cool the things we do for work are, it’s easy for the common to become unconsciously ignored.

Having my 10th course published is probably a good time to reflect with gratitude.

I’m grateful for:

  • Being part of the Pluralsight vision to democratize online tech training for people around the world, because
  • The work I do on course production helps people to get better at what they do
  • The opportunity to create, and have what I create viewed by thousands of people around the world
  • Being part of what really is a revolution in tech training, and Pluralsight really is leading the way for tech training
  • And finally, simply being able to teach.

3 Changing the World

We sometimes don’t think of the ripples we send out into the world by our actions. No thing exists purely because of a single cause. A complex web of things brought the thing into existence.

Continuous improvement doesn’t just apply to code, it applies to ourselves as a whole

Take for example the clothes you are wearing right now. You aren’t wearing them simply because you bought them: someone made them, someone made the machine that made them, someone harvested the cotton that made them, someone planted the cotton, someone drilled the oil to make the diesel that delivered that t-shirt to the store, and so on.

In the same way, the work we do sends ripples into the world. When we make software, we change people’s lives. When someone learns and uses something from one of my courses, their software gets better, and their lives and the lives of their users is improved. This is a pretty amazing thing to be part of.

“We did not weave the web of life, we are merely strands in it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves” – Chief Seattle.

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New Pluralsight Course: SpecFlow Tips and Tricks

My latest Pluralsight course was released today: SpecFlow Tips and Tricks is a short course to help those who are relatively new to SpecFlow and those who have been using it for a while and want to create more maintainable testing solutions.

The course focuses on 3 main areas:

  • Steps and Bindings
  • Hooks and Scoped Bindings
  • Step Parameters and Data Tables

This course is a loose follow-up to my previous Automated Acceptance Testing with SpecFlow and Gherkin course that covers the Gherkin DSL and other fundamental SpecFlow topics.

You can check out the course on the Pluralsight website or on my author page.

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Kill Your Productivity Demons with my New Pluralsight Course

My new Pluralsight course Personal Productivity & Performance Tools for Windows Developers “get more done in less time” has just been released.

It covers a range of developer-focused and general productivity tools that you can mix and match to suit your way of working.

“We’re constantly under pressure to be more productive. Learn how to use these tools to improve your productivity, streamline your workflows, and get more done in less time. ”

The course consists of:

  • Reduce Typing with AutoHotkey
  • LINQPad – A C# / VB.NET Scratchpad
  • Starting Programs and Websites with SlickRun
  • Take Control of your Clipboard with ClipX
  • Remember What you Did with TimeSnapper
  • Making the Internet Work for You with IFTTT
  • Free Image Editing with Paint.NET

You can find this course along with my other courses on the Pluralsight author page.

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Three Things I’ve Learned Being a Pluralsight Course Author

Up to this point I’ve produced 7 Pluralsight courses, these are three things I learned along the way:

Be Flexible with Plans

In our industry, “plan the work, and work the plan” is rarely successful – look at the rise of agile software development. So too in producing courses.

Just because I plan to record today, doesn’t mean mother nature won’t throw a wild (noisy) storm at me, or that the new houses being built close by won’t require a thunderous earth-moving machine to be used, or that there wont be a biplane show nearby.

This is definitely a valuable lesson in general: when we grasp desperately at our plans and treat them as if our lives depend on them, we just create unnecessary stress for ourselves. Sometimes you just have to push through regardless, and sometimes you have to let it go; wisdom is knowing which approach to take.

Celebrate Milestones

Life is a series of highs and lows, peaks and troughs. If we don’t celebrate and recognise the highs then all we’re left with are the troughs, the lows. Clearly it’s important to recognise both. For example when C# Tips and Traps got into the top 10 leaderboard, this was a major high so I made sure I celebrated the fact.

The Right Tools

When creating anything the right tools make all the difference. For example I started recording my first course using a Rode NT1-A which is a beautiful microphone for recording rich vocals in music but not great when it comes to sound isolation. I quickly moved to the USB Rode Podcaster which is pretty great – it’s frequency response is tailored for voice and has a fairly narrow end-address pickup that greatly reduces background noise.

The right tools really do make such a difference in all the things we do, as does the right mindset.

I hope to get to ten Pluralsight courses by the end of next year, you can check out my current Pluralsight courses on my author page.

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