Derivco DevNight: The Missing Piece with Juval Löwy

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a Derivco DevNight featuring a talk by Juval Löwy, founder of IDesign, master software architect and author of the book, Righting Software.

Derivco DevNight: The Missing Piece with Juval Löwy

In his 60 minute talk, we learnt why the software development pipeline is currently broken; the dissonance between software development and coding against requirements handed down by the “ivory tower”.

To be honest, I can’t argue with that. Development can be frustratingly slow, cumbersome, even under the guise of Agile methodologies. As Juval discussed, currently we have too many devs, leads and project managers going through the daily or weekly “Agile rituals” – the stand-ups, the feedback loop – listening, but not actually doing. As devs, we go through the motions, but we’re not actually delivering Agile results – the very purpose of what Agile is trying to achieve.

His solution to the above was very simple; “Don’t just do Agile, be Agile.” Being agile involves working towards a goal with an initial set of requirements, however, the grim reality of it all is that requirements are going to change and Juval’s advice was simply not resisting these potential changing requirements but instead embracing them, being agile in your workflow and working with them rather than resisting them.

The second half of the interesting talk touched on system engineering and how to step back, and decompose a system into smaller reusable building blocks or services, based on volatility. This feeds into the above point about agile and requirements as smaller building blocks will give a team the tools to be more agile. Comparisons were drawn against vehicle manufacturing and it’s not hard to see why.

We then learnt why there is no such thing as a micro-service(s). As Juval explained services and micro-services are the same things; services (no distinction between major or micro). Using the analogy of pumps found in your car and pumps found in your house (a pump is just a pump – we don’t distinguish between a pump and a micro-pump as it serves the exact same purpose). Hard to argue there.

The end part of the talk he touched on a rather opinionated view (Juval admitted this) of developers taking a long hard look at their future career with the inevitable rise of AI around the corner and what just might happen when AI learns to code more effectively than humans. I felt this served more like a mental take away – food for thought.

The talk was a very interesting one and definitely left me with lots of takeaways to think about. How as an industry, we need to change, not just go through the motions of doing tech rituals such as daily-standups but become more agile in our approach itself with the help of the right tools such as smaller building blocks.

If you’d like to know more, I suggest getting a hold of Juval Löwy’s book Righting Software which takes a much deeper dive into the above topics I’ve covered above.

Personally I want to say thanks to Derivco for putting on such a kick-ass evening – these types of events are rare in Durban and it’s always great to both attend them and appreciate the amount of effort that goes to putting one of these events on.

Laragon: The fastest way to setup WordPress locally

Usually, when it comes to setting up a local dev environment you have a few options. I’m here today to share with you, the joy that is Laragon. The fastest way to set up WordPress (or any other PHP CMS really) on a local machine.

Depending on your operating system, most people would opt for a WAMP / LAMP or MAMP stack setup on their machine. Some prefer running a VM with their own web server they have set up.

Vagrant is a popular option which is essentially a Virtualbox VM in the background. Another popular option is WampServer or XAMPP, but these are quite specific to Windows (although XAMPP is cross-platform).

Recently I came across Laragon (Windows only), which is essentially XAMPP on steroids. Never before in my 15+ year career have I been able to set up a brand new WordPress (or Drupal) installation as quickly as Laragon can do it.

I was using Xampp for local development until about a year ago when I found Laragon & I haven’t looked back since. This is seriously the most powerful local development tool I have in my entire “developer toolkit”.

Laragon Forum user (Link)

You can go from having a freshly installed Windows operating system to having an entire WordPress installation in less than 30 seconds. In fact, I created a .gif to show you the magic in action. Behold;

Laragon comes with hosts file management so that means it will automatically create a neat local URL for you projectname.test – gone are the days of having to use http://localhost/projectname or http://127.0.0.1/projectname – Laragon handles this for you out the box.

There are quite a few additional benefits and features that come with Laragon;

  • 1-click PHP extensions enable/disable
  • Comes with phpMyAdmin and HeidiSQL (my preferred MySQL GUI manager)
  • HTTPS/SSL support
  • Ability to run NGINX alongside Apache
  • Extremely light-weight and blazingly fast (I can confirm)
  • Git / Redis / Memcached integration
  • Extendable – Laragon setup can be customized in nearly every way
  • Cmder integration out the box for shell access
  • Ability to install and switch between additional PHP versions
  • Symfony, Laravel and Drupal 8 1-click setups out the box
  • Additional support for Node.js/MongoDB, Python/Django/Flask/Postgres, Ruby, Java, Go once installed

Laragon comes in 3 flavours; Full (~130MB), Lite (~85 MB) and Portable (~18 MB) – I’d suggest the Full version to get you up and running fast, but that depends on your preference.