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.
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Ivan Voras
Installing Django on IIS: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

Although the most wide-spread and supported way of running Django is on a Linux system (e.g., with uwsgi and nginx), it actually doesn’t take much work to get it to run on IIS. In this article, Toptal Engineer Ivan Voras walks you through a step-by-step tutorial, clearly explaining how to install Django on IIS.

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Mahmud Ridwan
Predicting Likes: Inside A Simple Recommendation Engine's Algorithms

The Internet is becoming “smarter” every day. The video-sharing website that you frequently visit seems to know exactly what you will like, even before you have seen it. The online shopping cart holding your items almost magically figures out the one thing that you may have missed or intended to add before checking out. It’s as if these web services are reading your mind - or are they?

Turns out, predicting a user’s likes involves more math than magic. In this article we will explore one of the many ways of building a recommendation engine that is both simple to implement and understand.

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Alberto Mancini
How GWT Unlocks Augmented Reality in Your Browser

In our previous post on the GWT Web Toolkit, we discussed the strengths and characteristics of GWT, to mix Java and JavaScript libraries seamlessly in the browser. In today’s post, we would like to go a little deeper, and see the GWT Toolkit in action. We’ll demonstrate how we can take advantage of GWT to build a peculiar application: an augmented reality web application that runs in real time, fully in JavaScript, in the browser. We’ll focus on how GWT gives us the ability to interact easily with many JavaScript APIs, such as WebRTC and WebGL, and allows us to harness a large Java library, NyARToolkit, never intended to be used in the browser.

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Jovan Jovanovic
How does Shazam work? Music Recognition Algorithms, Fingerprinting, and Processing

You hear a familiar song in the club or the restaurant. You listened to this song a thousand times long ago, and the sentimentality of the song really touches your heart. You desperately want to heart it tomorrow, but you can’t remember its name! Fortunately, in our amazing futuristic world, you have a phone with music recognition software installed, and you are saved.

But how does this really work? Shazam’s algorithm was revealed to world in 2003. In this article we’ll go over the fundamentals of that algorithm.

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Stéphane P. Péricat
MIDI Tutorial: Creating Browser-Based Audio Applications Controlled by MIDI Hardware

Modern web browsers provide a rich set of APIs; some of which have been around for a long time, and have since been used to build powerful web applications.

Web Audio API has been popular among HTML5 game developers, however, the Web MIDI API and its capabilities have yet to be utilized. In this article, Toptal engineer Stéphane P. Péricat guides you through the basics of the Web MIDI API, and shows you how to build a simple monosynth to play with your favorite MIDI device.

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Ahmed Al-Amir
Needle in a Haystack: A Nifty Large-Scale Text Search Algorithm Tutorial

When coming across the term “text search”, one usually thinks of a large body of text, which is indexed in a way that makes it possible to quickly look up one or more search terms when they are entered by a user. This is a classic problem in computer science, to which many solutions exist.

But how about a reverse scenario? What if what’s available for indexing beforehand is a group of search phrases, and only at runtime is a large body of text presented for searching?

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Avinash Kaza
Making an HTML5 Canvas Based Game: A Tutorial Using AngularJS and CreateJS

There are many programming platforms used to develop games, and there are a plethora of devices to play them on, but when it comes to playing games in a web browser, Flash-based development still leads the way.

What if we could port these games to HTML5 Canvas technology and play them on mobile browsers as well? In this article, Toptal engineer Avinash Kaza gave a solution to this.

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Nilson Souto
Video Game Physics Tutorial - Part I: An Introduction to Rigid Body Dynamics

Simulating physics in video games is very common, since most games are inspired by things we have in the real world. Rigid body dynamics – the movement and interaction of solid, inflexible objects – is by far the most popular kind of effect simulated in games.

In this series, rigid body simulation will be explored, starting with simple rigid body motion in this article, and then covering interactions among bodies through collisions and constraints in the following installments.

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Lê Anh Quân
Advanced Java Class Tutorial: A Guide to Class Reloading

In Java development, a typical workflow involves restarting the server with every class change, and no one complains about it. But is Java class reloading that difficult to achieve? And could that problem be both challenging and exciting to solve? In this article, I will try to address the problem, help you gain all the benefits of on-the-fly class reloading, and boost your productivity immensely.

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Nikolay Derkach
A Tutorial for Reverse Engineering Your Software's Private API: Hacking Your Couch

Reverse engineering and hacking are usually related to malicious activities that result in sleepless nights of engineers responsible for system maintenance.

Reverse engineering is a tool that we can utilize to find the flaws and improve our software in many aspects. This article shows us how to use these techniques to learn more about different implementations of web API.

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Leonardo Andrés Garcia Crespo
React.js View State Management Tutorial

One of the biggest and most common problems in front-end web development is state management. A developer is constantly focused on keeping the state object in sync with its view and the DOM representation. Users can interact with the application in many ways and it’s a big task to provide a clean transition from one view state to another.

We will see how using React JavaScript library can help us reduce application complexity and offload UI transitions from our application.

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Ahmed AbdelHalim
The Publish-Subscribe Pattern on Rails: An Implementation Tutorial

The publish-subscribe pattern] (or pub/sub, for short) is a messaging pattern where senders of messages (publishers), do not program the messages to be sent directly to specific receivers (subscribers). Instead, the programmer “publishes” messages (events), without any knowledge of any subscribers there may be.

This article provides insight in how to use the pub/sub pattern, in Rails, to communicate messages between different system components without these components knowing anything about each other’s identity.

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