Toptal Engineering Blog

The Toptal Engineering Blog is a hub for in-depth development tutorials and new technology announcements created by professional software engineers in the Toptal network.
Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Are We Creating An Insecure Internet of Things (IoT)? Security Challenges and Concerns

After a couple of years of bullish forecasts and big promises, security seems to be the biggest IoT concern. The first few weeks of 2015 were not kind to this emerging industry, and most of the negative press revolved around security.

Was it justified? Was it just “fear, uncertainty and doubt” (FUD), brought about by years of hype? It was bit of both; although some issues may have been overblown, the problems are very real, indeed.

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Nilson Souto
Video Game Physics Tutorial - Part II: Collision Detection for Solid Objects

In Part I of this three-part series on game physics, we explored rigid bodies and their motions. In that discussion, however, objects did not interact with each other. Without some additional work, the simulated rigid bodies can go right through each other.

In Part II, we will cover the collision detection step, which consists of finding pairs of bodies that are colliding among a possibly large number of bodies scattered around a 2D or 3D world.

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Phillip Brennan
Best Programming Editors? A Never Ending Battle With No Clear Winner

Since programmers spend so much time using their favorite editor, they become extremely good at it, and are reluctant to learn to use any other. Even if offered a better editor for some specific task, the skilled programmer can get their existing editor to do the task just well enough, and therefore sees no need to learn how to use a new one.

This is what compelled me to try out a number of different editors and make the transition as easy as possible; I hope my experience saves you time and effort if you find yourself in the same situation.

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Senad Biser
How Not To Manage Your Remote Team of Developers

When entering the remote developers’ world, the biggest obstacle that managers must overcome is to change their mindset by accepting that the developer will not be in plain sight, and where they can manage and follow the work being done.

This new paradigm requires businesses to implement a number of mechanisms to track progress and avoid a redundant workload. Such mechanisms will help both manager and developer be more productive, which is in everyone’s best interest.

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Tomislav Bacinger
Survey of the Best Online Mapping Tools for Web Developers: The Roadmap to Roadmaps

Making your own maps is not a big undertaking anymore, but for developers not familiar with web mapping, the agony of choice might be intimidating. You want to make maps, but don’t know where to start nor which tools to use. I am here to help.

Here, I’ll discuss several of the best available tools, providing a brief overview of each, along with code examples, and weighing the pros and cons.

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Mikhail Selivanov
Buggy Java Code: The Top 10 Most Common Mistakes That Java Developers Make

Java, a sophisticated programming language, has been dominating a number of ecosystems for quite a while. Portability, automated garbage collection, and its gentle learning curve are some of the things that make it a great choice in software development. However, like any other programming language, it is still susceptible to developer mistakes.

This article explores the top 10 common mistakes Java developers make and some ways of avoiding them.

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Oleksii Rytov
Why I Decided To Embrace Laravel

Laravel designers didn’t spend too much time reinventing the wheel. A lot of solutions and practices are transferred from other frameworks.

The decision to embrace a new PHP framework should not be taken lightly, so let’s examine why considering Laravel may be worth your time and effort. Toptal freelance software engineer Alex Rytov explains what made him take the plunge and why he believes Laravel has a bright future.

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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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