Design, Build and Release

Ramblings of IainJMitchell on C#, Javascript and Software Craftsmanship

Archive for the ‘kata’ tag

Manchester Codejo

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I have been involved in the setting up of a new monthly coding event in Manchester called Manchester Codejo. The first event is taking place on Tuesday 23rd October 2012 and is being hosted at the new TechHub Manchester offices (who have also kindly offered to sponsor the event).

Follow this link for further information and registration.

Written by IainJMitchell

September 30th, 2012 at 9:02 pm

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A quick introduction to nodejs

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nodejs is here, it’s going to save the world, long live Javascript!
Oh really?
As Chuck D says “Don’t believe the Hype”, however I’ve been using nodejs for a year or so and I quite like it.

Server side Javascript?

Well it is the simplest definition, but not 100% accurate. Yes, nodejs code is written in Javascript (the clue is in the js part of the name), but it’s actually defined as Event Driven, Asynchronous IO.

  1. Event Driven – eventing is built into the framework, which allows us to pass messages/commands in a nice OO friendly manor (tell don’t ask)
  2. Asynchronous IO – input and output does not block, which means no need for complex thread management

What do I need?

nodejs runs on Windows and Linux (I’d recommend the latter), it can be downloaded from here or directly from the git repository.

Fisherprice, my first node app

	.createServer(function (request, response) { 
		response.writeHead(200, {'Content-Type': 'text/plain'});
		response.end('Hello World');

console.log('Server running');

To execute the code we execute node from the command line, using the file name as an argument, e.g.
node helloWorld.js.

This code creates an app that is hosted at http://localhost:1337, when this address is hit the response will be a HTTP 200 (success) with the text ‘Hello World’. Pretty simple and no need for hosting in a separate web server*.

We can also rewrite this example to work with net.tcp:

	.createServer(function (socket) {

It’s all about the modules

You probably noticed the require keyword in the above examples, which is a request to load up a named module. This is possible because nodejs implements the CommonJS standard of defining and loading modules.

This allows us to define our own modules, like so:

var helloWorlder = function(){
	return 'hello world';

exports.helloWorlder = helloWorlder;

The exports object allows us to define the API of our module, in this case this is just a simple ‘hello World’ function. If this is saved in a file named aModule.js, then we can utilise this in another node application like so:

var module = require('./aModule.js');


Open source == Communism?

Of course, it would be dull world if we kept our node modules to ourselves. nodejs is all about open source and sharing our code, and this is where Node Package Manager (NPM) comes in.

NPM allows you to consume open source node modules and also submit your own. After installation NPM allows you to install modules at the command line, such as the following example for underscore:
NPM install underscore

After successfully running this command, you can then use underscore in your node app:

_ = require('underscore');
var collection = [1,2];

Good practice -> node modules differ from the large client side libraries (e.g. jQuery, Mootools etc), they tend to be smaller and focussed on one particular task.


This often overlooked feature of node is implemented through the EventEmitter class, which allows code to publish messages/commands to other subscribing sections of code. Here is an example of a direct use of the event emitter:

var EventEmitter = require('events').EventEmitter;
var publisher = new EventEmitter();

publisher.on('stuff', function(){
	console.log('stuff event fired');

publisher.on('stuff', function(){
	console.log('other stuff event fired');


When this code is executed the emit call will output the following to the console:
stuff event fired
other stuff event fired

Classes can also inherit from the EventEmitter, allowing them to have their own dedicated subscribers that they can emit to (see my node shopping cart kata for an event driven node solution).

Lessons Learnt

  • Unit Testing – There is a node port of Jasmine, but I’d recommend Vows, which is an asynchronous unit testing framework designed for use with node
  • Coffeescript – This is a language that compiles down into Javascript, it gives you a more ruby like syntax and much easier construction of classes and inheritance. Although the outputted Javascript is a bit too verbose for client side code, it is great for node. More details here.
  • MVCExpress is a lightweight MVC framework for node (think more Sinatra/Nancy rather than ASP.NET MVC).
  • DevelopmentNodeMon can be used to watch files in a directory and restart your node application if they change.

Other useful links

Github repository containing the examples from this post.
Github repository of the shopping kata in nodejs.
Introduction to nodeJs by the creator Ryan Dahl.

* Okay, it probably is a good idea to host behind a web server for web facing services, many leading web servers now have support for nodejs processes.

Written by IainJMitchell

May 18th, 2012 at 12:32 pm

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Kata exercise: Three is the magic number…

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The idea behind “Ping Pong” pairing is that the person driving constantly switches between the pair, so the three stages of Test Driven Development (test, implement and refactor) are carried out in the following pattern:

  1. Person A – Writes a test
  2. Person B – Implements it (to bare minimum)
  3. Person A – Refactors
  4. Person B – Writes a test

…and so on

However, what often happens is that the refactor stage is missed out, which leads to Person A writing all the tests and Person B doing all the implementation! The cause of this is often attributed to an overzealous implementation that is far from the bare minimum, though it can also be just be plain old forgetfulness.

The Kata exercise

Pick any simple Kata (we used the Roman Numerals Kata) and everyone splits into groups of threes, rather than pairs. The three should then tackle the problem with each person taking a TDD role in the cycle – so we end up with the following pattern:

  1. Person A – Writes a test
  2. Person B – Implements it
  3. Person C – Refactors
  4. Person B – Writes a test
  5. Person C – Implements it
  6. Person A – Refactors
  7. Person C – Writes a test

…and so on

The only additional rule is that if the person refactoring has nothing to refactor, then they have to role back to the last written test and start again.

Written by IainJMitchell

February 27th, 2012 at 7:51 pm

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