Toptal Engineering Blog

The Toptal Engineering Blog is a hub for in-depth development tutorials and new technology announcements created by professional freelance software engineers in the Toptal network.
Subscribe for daily updates today and check out the wealth of technical resources and videos published by the Toptal network.
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.

Continue reading →
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.

Continue reading →
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.

Continue reading →
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.

Continue reading →
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.

Continue reading →
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.

Continue reading →
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.

Continue reading →
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.

Continue reading →
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?

Continue reading →
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.

Continue reading →
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.

Continue reading →
Android 7.0 for Developers: New Features, Performance Upgrades & Other Stuff You Won’t Care About

Google formally announced Android 7.0 a few weeks ago, but as usual, you’ll have to wait for it. Thanks to the Android update model, most users won’t get their Android 7.0 over-the-air (OTA) updates for months. However, this does not mean developers can afford to ignore Android Nougat.

In this article, Toptal Technical Editor Nermin Hajdarbegovic takes a closer look at Android 7.0, outlining new features and changes. While Android 7.0 is by no means revolutionary, the introduction of a new graphics API, a new JIT compiler, and a range of UI and performance tweaks will undoubtedly unlock more potential and generate a few new possibilities.

Continue reading →
The 10 Most Common Mistakes iOS Developers Don't Know They're Making

Apple’s iOS is the second-largest mobile operating system in the world. It also has a very high adoption rate, with more than 85 percent of users on the latest version. These highly engaged users have high expectations: If your app has bugs, you’ll hear about it. And once the one-star reviews start rolling in, it’s hard to recover.

In this article, Toptal Software Engineer Nikita Tuk outlines the 10 most common mistakes that developers make—and how to avoid them.

Continue reading →
Webpack or Browserify & Gulp: Which Is Better?

Gone are the days where front-end developers for web applications could use ad-hoc JavaScript with jQuery and such all in a single JavaScript file. Modern web applications require more effort from the developer to adopt an overall architecture and development process. Building such front-end applications relies on lots of external dependencies and modular source code, and these elements necessitate automation to save developers time and reduce the chances of mistakes.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Eric Grosse shows us how various combinations of the popular tools Webpack, Browserify, Gulp and Npm can benefit us by enhancing our development environment and allowing us to focus on writing the app itself.

Continue reading →
How To Improve ASP.NET App Performance In Web Farm With Caching

Caching is a powerful technique for increasing performance, but the whole idea behind caching works only as long as the result we cached remains valid. And here we get to the hard part of the problem: How do we determine when a cached item has become invalid and needs to be recreated?

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Daniel Ivanov provides an ASP.NET-based solution to replace invalid cached items and assure high throughput and performance of web applications designed to handle a high load.

Continue reading →
The Definitive Guide to DateTime Manipulation

In the realm of software development, time and date manipulation is considered by many to be a difficult task. Complicated time zone rules, leap seconds, differences in locale-specific formatting, etc., force us to immediately resort to popular time and date manipulation libraries. We often use these libraries without thinking about how exactly they work, which can lead to all sorts of obscure bugs in our software.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Punit Jajodia gives us an in-depth introduction to some concepts and best practices to avoid a few of the obvious issues related to changing the time and date in our applications.

Continue reading →
How Hibernate Almost Ruined My Career

Are you building the next big thing? Planning to become the next Facebook or Google? Are you at the point of making fundamental decisions that will stay with you for the entire project? There is a good chance that you will pick a robust language like Java. If so, you want to pick the best object-oriented abstraction of your flexible data model because you don’t want to deal with plain SQL. You want to support all kinds of data and ideally, support all kind of databases. If so, there’s is only one right choice for you: Hibernate.

Continue reading the story written by Freelance Software Engineer Grzegorz Gajos, about one of these imaginary but entirely possible scenarios.

Continue reading →
How Sequel and Sinatra Solve Ruby’s API Problem

The rise of the web and mobile applications has led to an increased need for back-end API services. Ruby on Rails’ philosophy seemingly makes it the ideal framework for creating back-end APIs. However, using Rails only for the API is overkill.

In this article, Freelance Software Engineer Boško Ivanišević explores alternatives to Rails and introduces us to two very mature and powerful gems, Sinatra and Sequel, which in combination provide powerful tools for creating server-side APIs.

Continue reading →
The 10 Most Common Mistakes That WordPress Developers Make

WordPress is easily the most powerful open source blogging and content management system available online today. As WordPress is easy enough to set up and has a user-friendly approach, many developers are often underestimating it and so make mistakes in development.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Andrew Schultz outlines the ten most common mistakes that WordPress developers should be aware of for future projects.

Continue reading →
The Six Commandments of Good Code: Write Code that Stands the Test of Time

How do you define good code? Is it 100% test coverage, or is it backwards compatibility with decade-old hardware? We may not be able to reach an end to this debate yet, but good software always seems to conform to a few certain qualities of code.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Zachary Goldberg walks us through six simple ideas that can help you make better, more maintainable software.

Continue reading →
Meet RxJava: The Missing Reactive Programming Library for Android

Implementing applications that deal with complex concurrent behavior has always been a challenging aspect of programming. Various paradigms exist that promise a solution to this problem in different ways. RxJava is a Java library that enables Functional Reactive Programming in Android development. It raises the level of abstraction around threading in order to simplify the implementation of complex concurrent behavior.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Christopher Arriola gives us a detailed walkthrough of RxJava and how it fits into the realm of Android development.

Continue reading →