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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Use Magento If You're Serious About eCommerce

You’ve heard that Magento is the eCommerce platform to use if you’re serious about your business – and you’re serious about your business – so you’ve decided on Magento. But do you know what you’re getting into?

In this post, Toptal Software Engineer Andrew Hughes walks us through the difference between WordPress WooCommerce and Magento. While Magento is the expert’s eCommerce platform of choice, it’s not always the right solution, depending on your client.

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Don't Underestimate the Power of Your Brand Story

A brand story is a powerful tool, but trial-and-error is required to use it well. If persistent, you’ll develop a unique voice, and your work will be infused with unexpected strands of meaning and purpose that thrill clients and the people they’re trying to reach.

In this article, Toptal Designer Micah Bowers walks us through one of his own branding projects to show us how to develop an effective brand story. Most of us might know a good story when we see one, but how do we write an engaging one ourselves?

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A Data Engineer's Guide To Non-Traditional Data Storages

With the rise of big data and data science, storage and retrieval have become a critical pipeline component for data use and analysis. Recently, new data storage technologies have emerged. But the question is: Which one should you choose? Which one is best suited for data engineering?

In this article, Toptal Data Scientist Ken Hu compares three prominent storage technologies within the context of data engineering.

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What Google and Adobe Can Teach Us About Feature Creep

Most designers know that feature creep is a big time problem, but knowing is only half the battle. How do we stop feature creep from smothering our projects?

In this article, Toptal Designer Luciano Vizza guides us through the steps to recognize and dispel feature creep in your next project. One extra feature might not sink the ship. But, it doesn’t take long for one feature to become 20 features, and before you know it, Captain, you are going down with the ship.

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An Introduction to Protocol-oriented Programming in Swift

Most modern programming languages, in the hopes of enhanced maintainability and reusability of code, offer some constructs that help the developer keep the definition of behavior and its implementation separate.

Swift takes the idea of interfaces a step further with protocols. With protocols and protocol extensions, Swift allows developers to enforce elaborate conformity rules without compromising the expressiveness of the language.

In this article, Toptal Software Engineer Alexander Gaidukov explores Swift protocols and how protocol-oriented programming can improve the maintainability and reusability of your code.

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Turn Error Into Opportunity With These 404 Page Inspirations

Check out a collection of 404 page design inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Designer Jônatas Vieira curated a selection of designs that each offer a unique solution to t.

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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The Zen of devRant

Let’s face it: Sometimes you just need to rant. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. It’s called devRant, and it’s the place for developers to vent about clients from hell, non-technical friends and family, and clueless recruiters.

In this roundup, devRant Co-Founder David Fox shares his favorite collection of rants since launching. Some will make you laugh. Others will make you laugh so hard you cry. And just about all of them will make you empathize with the author.

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The Complete Guide to Cross Cultural Design

Designing across cultural boundaries has broader implications and more challenges than Google Translate can solve. Designers must consider not just language differences, but also cultural tendencies, values, and taboos.

In this article, Toptal designer Jônatas Vieira gives us the tools to navigate cultural boundaries and shows us one of his own projects that taught him the value of cross-cultural design.

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To Designers With Love (A Letter From a Front-end Developer)

If you’re a veteran frontender, you’ve probably had some not-so-great experiences with designers, and chances are some designers have had an equally bad experience working with you. How can you make sure you get exactly what you need from your designer, without placing an undue burden on them?

It’s a tall order, but in this article Freelance Software Engineer Vedran Aberle Tokic outlines and addresses a number of potential issues that may become roadblocks for your execution. Implementing these suggestions may result in overhead for designers, but they can save enormous amounts of time and headache elsewhere.

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Design for Reality, Not Glory

Designers too often work for their ego and choose to redesign the next billion-user start-up to boost their career, rather than doing something that will really help them grow. We receive no substantial criticism when publishing portfolio work online, but when we design for reality we put ourselves in a position to learn.

In this article, Toptal Lead Blog Design Editor Michael Abehsera shows us how to kill our egos, design for the small and local, and to always be students.

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Migrate Legacy Data Without Screwing It Up

Nobody wants to leave valuable customer data behind. Unfortunately, though, the hardest part of data migration to a complex CRM system, such as Salesforce, is the handling of legacy data.

In this article, Toptal Software Engineer Marian Paul provides 10 tips for successful legacy data migration to Salesforce.

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Delight Users at Checkout With These Payment Page Inspirations

Check out a collection of payment design inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle curated a selection of designs that each offer unique UI solutions to the popular platform.

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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How to Isolate Client-Server Interaction Logic in iOS Applications

Client-server interactions play a vital role in most modern mobile applications. By leveraging available backend services these mobile applications can provide some really amazing functionalities. However, as mobile applications grow complex it becomes essential to keep the networking module as clean and maintainable as possible - separated from the rest of the application logic.

In this article, Toptal freelance software engineer Alexander Gaidukov walks us through the design of a simple networking module that allows your iOS application to interact with RESTful APIs.

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The End of Sandboxes: Changing the Unit of Design

Most people know that the world of digital products, and how we design them, is changing every day. The question that we must ask then is: how will this affect the role of designers in the future?

In this article, Toptal designer Bree Chapin gives us an overview of user interactions today and how they are changing for tomorrow. Keep reading to learn how designers have to pivot and redirect their foci to create products and services that can adapt for the future.

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An HDFS Tutorial for Data Analysts Stuck With Relational Databases

The Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) is a scalable, open source solution for storing and processing large volumes of data. With its built-in replication and resilience to disk failures, HDFS is an ideal system for storing and processing data for analytics.

In this step-by-step tutorial, Toptal Database Developer Dallas H. Snider details how to migrate existing data from a PostgreSQL database into the more efficient HDFS.

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The Definitive Guide to Building Apps For Children

Recent studies have found that in the U.S., 75 percent of children younger than eight have access to a smartphone or tablet, as do 36 percent of kids under the age of one. Although video games and apps have always carried the stigma of being detrimental to youth development, science has proven that some products can actually enhance a child’s cognitive strength. This presents a great opportunity and responsibility to digital designers and developers to influence tomorrow’s generations in a positive way.

In this guide, Toptal Designer Tanya Unger breaks down the differences and similarities between designing for kids and designing for adults. Then she presents a proven framework and offers some additional tips.

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A Comprehensive Introduction To Your Genome With the SciPy Stack

Genome data is one of the most widely analyzed datasets in the realm of Bioinformatics. The SciPy stack offers a suite of popular Python packages designed for numerical computing, data transformation, analysis and visualization, which is ideal for many bioinformatic analysis needs.

In this tutorial, Toptal Software Engineer Zhuyi Xue walks us through some of the capabilities of the SciPy stack. He also answers some interesting questions about the human genome, including: How much of the genome is incomplete? How long is a typical gene?

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Let’s Redesign Facebook: 10 Inspirations to Get You Started

Check out a collection of new Facebook redesigns created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle curated a selection of designs that each offer unique UI solutions to the popular platform.

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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The Mistakes Most Swift Developers Don't Know They're Making

Swift is the new programming language created to be a modern replacement for Objective-C in iOS and OS X application development. In general, a skilled Swift developer is usually someone who is already experienced with Objective-C, and that, among other things, might lead them to write Swift code using Objective-C best practices, which can cause some bad mistakes.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Nilson Souto outlines the most common mistakes Swift developers should be aware of.

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Get Inspired With These Data Visualisations

Check out a collection of intuitive data visualisations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle curated a selection of designs that each offer unique UI solutions to data.

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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An Overly Thorough Guide To Underused Android Libraries

Any experienced developer will tell you that their best code isn’t code they wrote. It’s code they took from someone else’s work. Many of the problems we encounter have already been solved—and the remedies packaged into libraries available to anyone. Why reinvent the wheel when free wheels are everywhere?

In this guide, Senior Android Engineer Gilad Haimov will take you on a quick tour of some the most powerful Android libraries out there. Robust as a hammer, faster than a drill, and more precise than any scalpel; no Android developer should leave home without these must-have tools.

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