Toptal Blog

The Toptal Blog is the top hub for developers, designers, finance experts, executives, and entrepreneurs, featuring key technology updates, tutorials, freelancer resources, and management insights.

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Why The Hell Would I Use Node.js? A Case-by-Case Tutorial

by Tomislav Capan

Node.js shines in real-time web applications employing push technology over websockets. What is so revolutionary about that? Well, after over 20 years of stateless-web based on the stateless request-response paradigm, we finally have web applications with real-time, two-way connections, where both the client and server can initiate communication, allowing them to exchange data freely. This is in stark contrast to the typical web response paradigm, where the client always initiates communication. Additionally, it’s all based on the open web stack (HTML, CSS and JS) running over the standard port 80.

14 minute readContinue Reading
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Build Dumb, Refactor Smart: How to Massage Problems Out of Ruby on Rails Code

by Daniel Lewis

Sometimes, clients give us feature requests that we really don't like. It's not that we don't like our clients, we love our clients. It's not that we don't like the feature, most client-requested features are aligned perfectly with their business goals and income. Sometimes, the reason we don't like a feature request is that the easiest way to solve it is to write bad code, and we don't have an Elegant Solution on the top of our heads. This will throw many of us on fruitless searches through RubyToolbox, github, developer blogs, and stackoverflow looking for a gem or plugin or example code that will make us feel better about ourselves. Well, I'm here to tell you, it's okay to write bad code. Sometimes, bad code is easier to refactor into beautiful code than a poorly thought out solution implemented under a time-crunch.

7 minute readContinue Reading
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Control Your Laptop with an Android Phone using Python, Twisted, and Django

by Martin Chikilian

It’s always fun to put your programming skills on display. A while back, I figured it’d be cool to try and control my laptop via my Android mobile device. Think about it: being able to play and pause music, start and stop programming jobs or downloads, etc., all by sending messages from your phone. Neat, huh?

6 minute readContinue Reading
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In Defense of Female Engineers

by Taso Du Val

Female engineers are valuable at Toptal. This is a piece about how we stand up for their rights and value them for their skills and talent.

6 minute readContinue Reading
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Init.js: A Guide to the Why and How of Full-Stack JavaScript

by Alejandro Hernandez

After much thought, I decided to engineer a solution to the idea abandonment problem. I call it the ‘Init' project (or Init.js). The core of the idea is to have a single project to start them all, to let the developer or the technical founder make all of the essential decisions at once, and receive an appropriate starting template based on those decisions.

14 minute readContinue Reading
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How a Single Front-End Engineer Can Replace a Team of Two

by Tom Kozacinski

Demand within the web design scene today has changed over the past few years: designers with front-end skills, and front-end developers with design skills, are more and more in demand. Yes, you could argue that the jobs are completely different—and maybe you straight-up don't like one of them—but truth be told, in my six years as a freelance web developer and twelve years as a designer, I’ve learned that it's much harder to get by as just a web designer or just a front-end developer. Wearing both hats has a lot of advantages: from a professional perspective alone, you can find work more easily and charge a higher rate because you’re bringing more to the table.

11 minute readContinue Reading
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The Ultimate Remote Team Culture

by Taso Du Val

At Toptal, we’re building a software product that aims to revolutionize team creation, contracting, and human resources. Our team is completely distributed: we have no office, and we work from all around the globe. And when I say “all around the globe”, I mean “_all_ around the globe”: our internal staff consists of nearly 50 full-time individuals from Brazil, USA, Russia, Argentina, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary, and more. This includes engineers, designers, recruiters, sales, and executives. We all work from home, and we’re good at it: we’ve had countless Skype sessions, code reviews, feature iterations—all components in building a great product. We work hard, and we’ve been at it with as much fervor and energy as ever. Earlier this year, we decided it was time to bring everyone together in the same location. We’ve had tremendous success as a distributed team. But regardless, we wanted to add an edge to our collaboration and creativity, and connect in-person. Our journey, the results that came of it, and the economics behind it are all explained thoroughly in the post that follows.

12 minute readContinue Reading
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The H-1B Visa: An iOS Developer's Journey from Honduras to Silicon Valley

by Carlos E. Hernández Perez

These days, I’m living in the great city of San Francisco. I’ve got a job that I love, and one that I’ve dreamt of having for a long time. Everything seems easy now, but it wasn’t always like this.

10 minute readContinue Reading
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Growing Growth: Perform Your Own Cohort Analysis with This Open Source Code

by Alejandro Rigatuso

But this isn’t just another article about cohort analysis. If you already know the importance of the topic and want to skip the introduction, you can jump to the simulator, where you can either simulate startup growth based on retention, churn, and a number of other factors, or analyze your own PayPal logs with the code I’ve open sourced. If, however, you don’t realize that these are some of the most important metrics around–continue reading.

7 minute readContinue Reading

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