Building Blocks | August 2022

developer experience

Amnic’s monthly newsletter Building Blocks captures major news and trends in the developer community. 

This month’s newsletter talks about key findings of Stack Overflow Survey on factors affecting developer experience and productivity, GitHub’s AI pair programmer Copilot,  Carbon, touted as the experimental successor to C++, and a privacy scare in Japan. Plus, some recommendations for the weekend and MemeOps. At 900 words, this newsletter is a 4-minute read.
Happy reading!

IN FOCUS 

What Affects Developer Experience?

Developer productivity and developer experience continue to get impacted due to lack of the right enablers. This is the big takeaway from the 2022 Stack Overflow Developer Survey. Nearly 50% respondents believe that the onboarding time, regardless of the function, is long in their organizations. Further, only 38% report their organization has an internal developer portal that can help them find tools and services easily.

These bottlenecks are slowing down the ‘innovation supply chain’. Jyoti Bansal, CEO of Harness, takes the argument further when he says that most developers are spending more time toiling with administrative and repetitive work than writing a code. According to ActiveState’s 2019 developer survey, 61.5% of the developers surveyed spent four hours or even less a day writing code. Yet another survey, as far back as 2013, found that developers were spending up to 54% of their work hours on non-coding tasks.

While some things in life must not change, developer experience definitely should, and for the better.

Navigating with CoPilot

As the name suggests, Copilot, an AI-powered tool owned by GitHub, helps you write code faster by suggesting the next line of code in real time. It is almost how AI suggests the next word when you are writing a letter. GitHub’s editor extension, however, can do a lot more. It can suggest complete methods, boilerplate code, whole unit tests, and even complex algorithms. 

A month after it was made generally available to all developers, at $10/month, GitHub’s survey of over 2000 US-based developers claims that the AI pair programmer is indeed helping developers become more productive and has improved their coding (read more here). However, a proprietary service built on top of the work of the open source community, Copilot has also managed to ruffle a few feathers over copyright infringement and fair-use (read more here).

Is Carbon the Successor to C++?

Billed as the ‘experimental successor’ to C++, Carbon, a new programming language announced by Google, has become a talking point among the developer community. “Interoperability with and migration from existing C++ code” as well as language evolution (tool-based upgrades) are the key goals of Carbon as a successor language, said Google engineer Chandler Carruth at the CPP North C++ conference in Toronto last month. In other words, what Typescript is to Javascript and Kotlin is to Java, Carbon aspires to be the same for C++.

Comparisons with Rust are a no-brainer – a language syntactically similar to C++ but with memory safety and often voted by developers as one of the most loved languages (including in this year’s Stack Overflow Developer Survey). But Team Carbon believes it holds an edge, especially on interoperability. It is early days and the jury is still out on whether or not the future is Carbon! (You can watch Chandler Carruth’s talk here.)

BIZARRE-OPS

A Drunk Worker and a Privacy Scare

Some of us drink to celebrate and others to drown their sorrows or get over a hard day at work. But 460,000 residents of Amagasaki, an industrial city in western Japan, recently realized that a drunk man can also be the cause of a privacy scare. In this case, the man in question had one too many at a local restaurant. On his way back home, he realized his bag was missing, which among other things contained a USB drive with personal details (date of birth, address, bank account number) of nearly half a million Japanese citizens. 

The man had collected the USB drive from the city office and was supposed to transfer the data at a call centre. As the news spread, the city office was inundated with complaints. Later, at a press conference, city officials said the data in the drive was encrypted and password-protected, and bowed in an apology to the residents.

A scary story to drive home the message: encrypt your sensitive data and keep track of how many drinks you are having! You can read this bizarre episode in full here.

WEEKEND RECOMMENDATIONS 

One Long Read: Building for the 99% Developers

Not every developer works at Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix or Google (FAANG), but the worldview on developer tools and experiences is dominated by the 1% working at these organisations. Because the view of the remaining 99% does not make it to the chatter, myths and misconceptions around developer tools – or just how an average developer’s day looks like – are in plenty. Jean Yang, founder and CEO of Akita Software, busts such myths with surgical precision here. A long read for the weekend.

One Video to Watch: The Role of QA in Agile Software by Dave Farley

Dave Farley, author of Continuous Delivery and Modern Software Engineering, is known for breaking down complex concepts into easy, digestible capsules. If you want to understand the importance of continuous testing and why test-driven development is the future, you can watch Farley’s talk on ‘The Role of QA in Agile Software’ here.

One Podcast to Listen to: How to Secure Kubernetes

If Kubernetes gets your goat and you have been looking for some expert opinion on strategies to secure Kubernetes, you may want to tune into this podcast. Darin Pope, developer advocate for CloudBees, and Viktor Farcic, a member of the Google Developer Experts and Docker Captains groups, who together run DevOps Paradox, are in conversation with Lachlan Evenson, Principal Program Manager on the open source team at Azure.

MEME-OPS

(Credit: r/DevOpsMemes/Posted by u/shadyfox3d)

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