Toptal Blog

The Toptal Blog is the top hub for software engineers, designers, project managers, and entrepreneurs, featuring in-depth coverage of platforms and technologies, comprehensive tutorials by professional Toptal talent, and resources to help ambitious freelancers stay on the cutting edge.
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Ten Kotlin Features To Boost Android Development

Kotlin is a new, expressive general-purpose programming language powered by the same virtual machine technology that powers Java. Since Kotlin compiles to the JVM bytecode, it can be used side-by-side with Java, and it does not come with a performance overhead.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Ivan Kušt gives us a walkthrough of ten major features of Kotlin that help avoid boilerplate code and, more importantly, save time.

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Amazing Travel UIs

Check out a curated collection of beautiful and futuristic travel UIs created by different designers from around the world.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

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Java in the Cloud - Continuous Integration Setup Tutorial

More than two decades ago, Java shook the world with its “Write once, run anywhere“ slogan. Today, Java developers have at their disposal a whole set of tools, such as Spring Boot, Docker, Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Continuous Delivery, to take development and delivery to a whole new universe.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Matko Šuflaj presents all these technologies and guides us through a step-by-step tutorial on how to build a small microservice and prepare it for continuous integration in the cloud.

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Usability for Conversion: Stop Using Fads, Start Using Data

There are many design tips out there that claim to be universal solutions for achieving high conversion rates. However, in this article, Toptal Freelance Designer Joel Lopez suggests avoiding these trends or fads and encourages us to instead thoughtfully collect data to inform the design of our products.

Although some quick-fix design moves may achieve high conversion rates in a product’s early years, they don’t lend themselves to establishing long-term user trust. Joel argues that this trust is essential to keep users coming back to promote your products.

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The Duel: React Native vs. Cordova

As a result of smartphones and mobile applications becoming so popular, web developers have been looking for ways to create mobile applications using JavaScript. This increased demand has led to the development of many JavaScript frameworks capable of running native-like applications on mobile devices.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Johannes Stein compares the current two most popular choices for mobile-oriented JavaScript frameworks, Cordova and React Native. Examining their advantages and pitfalls, he dives into details of each and compares them across different disciplines.

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Alternative Housing Lifestyles for Remote Workers

An often mentioned virtue of remote work is the freedom for individuals to construct their lifestyles as they wish. However, much of contemporary society has not yet shifted to allow for the total freedom that many desire, especially when it comes to housing. Why should outdated housing standards prevent us from living in the way we want to live?

In this article, Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle surveys a group of housing alternatives that apply to several different types of remote workers. The digital nomad has different needs than the young professional or the working parent, and their housing options should reflect that.

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Spectacular Crowdfunding Fails And Their Impact On Entrepreneurship

What’s the biggest problem with crowdfunding today? Everyone wants a sweet slice of the crowdfunded pie, but nobody wants a single crumb of responsibility. As a result, crowdfunding platforms, the tech press, and the geek public have picked up a track record filled with spectacular crowdfunding failures.

In this article, Toptal Technical Editor Nermin Hajdarbegovic takes a look at the state of crowdfunding today and explains why the industry needs to do more to clean up its act and get rid of bad apples in crowdfunding.

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Design In A Remote Setting: A Toptal Design Talk

Without an office manager, or shift supervisor to look over your shoulder, or set your schedule for you, design in a remote setting can be difficult for some to manage. As well, for those who use the freedom that remote work offers, how can one ensure to find a healthy balance between life, fun and of course work?

In this article, Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle discusses strategies for designing in a remote setting with Lubos Volkov, Toptal Lead Designer. Lubos explains the importance of good planning, a strong will, but also the ability to break the rules and get outside when the world calls you.

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Why Should Java Developers Give Grails a Chance?

Java may have stood the test of time, but it can still be a source of great frustration among many web developers. Dealing with its verbosity and infrastructure overhead, for example, can take hours, even for the most basic needs.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Gregor Ambrozic shows us how Grails and its many appealing features can be a viable alternative to traditional Java web applications frameworks.

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How CrunchBase Should Be Designed

Despite the widespread use of the start-up tracker CrunchBase, Toptal Freelance Designer Andrew Graunke believes that its site could use a redesign. Can the redesign transcend an aesthetic makeover, and improve user and business goals as well?

In this article, Andrew walks us through his thorough redesign and reorganization of the CrunchBase website. His process includes wireframes, design reviews, and a usability test.

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Meet Ecto, The No-Compromise Database Wrapper For Concurrent Elixir Apps

Elixir, with its simple and clean syntax, makes building scalable and maintainable concurrent applications a breeze. Ecto is a database wrapper that lives up to the high expectations set by Elixir’s reputation. Its domain-specific language provides a pleasant way to interact with databases and build fault-tolerant, concurrent applications in Elixir with ease.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Boris Barroso walks us through Ecto and its four main components: Repo, Schema, Changeset and Query.

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Produce DWGs Like It's 2016: Teigha For Architecture

Today, the notion of repetitively modeling or drawing the windows, doors, and walls of standardized buildings seems archaic, so why do it? If you want to handle DWG files and ACA objects programmatically, one of the best platform options is Teigha Architecture.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Designer Alexey Abramovsky walks us through the DWG production of a small house to introduce us to the benefits of Teigha. Go from foundations to full render in this quick tutorial.

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Social Network APIs: The Internet’s Portal to the Real World

Social networks are a rich source of user information. From a person’s current mood to endless streams of photos, there is by now probably a social network for each aspect of human life. From the development side, access to users’ information can be an essential element in providing a truly personalized experience in any application.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Behsaad Ramez shows us how the APIs of some of these social networks stack against each other and how they may be leveraged to accumulate precious information about users.

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UX Testing For The Masses: Keep It Simple And Cost Effective

User Experience (UX) testing may be one of the more overlooked but ultimately necessary steps in UX design. It has to be effective and involve the most important people – your users and customers.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Designer Ruaridh Currie examines UX testing methods and processes used by designers who want to understand and employ User Centered Design (UCD) and put their UX designs to the test, preferably without burning a hole in their budget.

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Write Tests That Matter: Tackle The Most Complex Code First

In today’s world, code is expected to change as quickly as requirements do, and tests play an important role in making that possible. Many modern projects boast great test coverage, making them more resilient to regression issues. However, that is not true for all projects - especially some legacy projects which have little in the way of testing.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Andrey Shalitkin discusses two metrics, coupling and cyclomatic complexity, that are important in identifying which portions of code to include in test coverage.

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Sharpen Your Skills: The Value of Multidisciplinary Design

Although the different design disciplines are often divided into separate categories, many of their associated skills transcend the limits of nomenclature. For example, the ability of an architectural designer to present abstract concepts clearly might help the UX designer communicate an interface with improved efficiency and meaning, just as a graphic designer’s visual knowledge informs the UI designer’s interface compositions.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Designer Peter Varadi explains through his own experience how a multidisciplinary design background has broadened his skill set. Who knew that an architectural education could set you apart in the field of UX Design?

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How to Build a Multitenant Application: A Hibernate Tutorial

In the realm of enterprise software, especially for software provided as a service, multitenancy ensures that data is truly isolated for each client within a shared instance of software. Among its numerous benefits, multitenancy can greatly simplify release management and cut down costs.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer André William Prade Hildinger shows us how Hibernate, a persistence framework for Java, makes implementing a multitenant Java EE application easier than it sounds.

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Design A Better Website: Foundations First

Most designers only publish their finished, polished wireframes and mock-ups without revealing how much work really goes into research and content organization. What results is a community that assumes that design is all about jumping into a composition. This understanding of design produces faulty products.

In this article, Alex Gurevich gives us a walkthrough of his workflow for the design of a significant non-profit company’s website, explaining with each step how a thorough preliminary process leads to holistic web page design.

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A New Way of Using Email for Support Apps: An AWS Tutorial

Of all the modern ways people talk to each other, email seems to have stood the test of time and is arguably still one of the most effective and widely used means of communication. Thus, being able to programmatically send and receive emails can open new dimensions to a user’s experience of software that powers human communication.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Francis Altomare shows us how he leveraged various Amazon Web Services technologies to build a simple communication application in which email itself is an important interface.

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The Art Of Meaningful UX Design

Everyone from designers to clients to users desires meaningful products, but how much do we know about what it takes to make consumer experiences meaningful? Can the psychology of consumer experience inform our UX design strategies?

In this article, Toptal Freelance Designer Kaushik Ghosh shows us how to design products that connect with users beyond basic needs and functions. The process of “Meaning Making” through appropriate design interventions can lead to significantly higher engagement, passion, and commitment from users.

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Boost Your Productivity With Clever Travel Hardware

You can buy capri pants, cheap flip-flops, and boonie hats anywhere on vacation, but beachside shops usually don’t carry quality hardware that can help you be more productive on the road or save you time and money for more enjoyable activities.

In this post, Toptal Technical Editor Nermin Hajdarbegovic takes a look at inexpensive and readily available travel hardware designed to boost your productivity on the road. You can put most of these gadgets on your summer shopping list without making a dent in your travel budget.

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