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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Java in the Cloud: Continuous Integration Setup Tutorial

More than two decades ago, Java shook the world with its “Write once, run anywhere“ slogan. Today, Java developers have at their disposal a whole set of tools, such as Spring Boot, Docker, Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Continuous Delivery, to take development and delivery to a whole new universe.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Matko Šuflaj presents all these technologies and guides us through a step-by-step tutorial on how to build a small microservice and prepare it for continuous integration in the cloud.

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The Duel: React Native vs. Cordova

As a result of smartphones and mobile applications becoming so popular, web developers have been looking for ways to create mobile applications using JavaScript. This increased demand has led to the development of many JavaScript frameworks capable of running native-like applications on mobile devices.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Johannes Stein compares the current two most popular choices for mobile-oriented JavaScript frameworks, Cordova and React Native. Examining their advantages and pitfalls, he dives into details of each and compares them across different disciplines.

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Spectacular Crowdfunding Fails And Their Impact On Entrepreneurship

What’s the biggest problem with crowdfunding today? Everyone wants a sweet slice of the crowdfunded pie, but nobody wants a single crumb of responsibility. As a result, crowdfunding platforms, the tech press, and the geek public have picked up a track record filled with spectacular crowdfunding failures.

In this article, Toptal Technical Editor Nermin Hajdarbegovic takes a look at the state of crowdfunding today and explains why the industry needs to do more to clean up its act and get rid of bad apples in crowdfunding.

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Why Should Java Developers Give Grails a Chance?

Java may have stood the test of time, but it can still be a source of great frustration among many web developers. Dealing with its verbosity and infrastructure overhead, for example, can take hours, even for the most basic needs.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Gregor Ambrozic shows us how Grails and its many appealing features can be a viable alternative to traditional Java web applications frameworks.

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Meet Ecto, The No-Compromise Database Wrapper For Concurrent Elixir Apps

Elixir, with its simple and clean syntax, makes building scalable and maintainable concurrent applications a breeze. Ecto is a database wrapper that lives up to the high expectations set by Elixir’s reputation. Its domain-specific language provides a pleasant way to interact with databases and build fault-tolerant, concurrent applications in Elixir with ease.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Boris Barroso walks us through Ecto and its four main components: Repo, Schema, Changeset and Query.

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Social Network APIs: The Internet’s Portal to the Real World

Social networks are a rich source of user information. From a person’s current mood to endless streams of photos, there is by now probably a social network for each aspect of human life. From the development side, access to users’ information can be an essential element in providing a truly personalized experience in any application.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Behsaad Ramez shows us how the APIs of some of these social networks stack against each other and how they may be leveraged to accumulate precious information about users.

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Write Tests That Matter: Tackle The Most Complex Code First

In today’s world, code is expected to change as quickly as requirements do, and tests play an important role in making that possible. Many modern projects boast great test coverage, making them more resilient to regression issues. However, that is not true for all projects - especially some legacy projects which have little in the way of testing.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Andrey Shalitkin discusses two metrics, coupling and cyclomatic complexity, that are important in identifying which portions of code to include in test coverage.

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How to Build a Multitenant Application: A Hibernate Tutorial

In the realm of enterprise software, especially for software provided as a service, multitenancy ensures that data is truly isolated for each client within a shared instance of software. Among its numerous benefits, multitenancy can greatly simplify release management and cut down costs.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer André William Prade Hildinger shows us how Hibernate, a persistence framework for Java, makes implementing a multitenant Java EE application easier than it sounds.

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A New Way of Using Email for Support Apps: An AWS Tutorial

Of all the modern ways people talk to each other, email seems to have stood the test of time and is arguably still one of the most effective and widely used means of communication. Thus, being able to programmatically send and receive emails can open new dimensions to a user’s experience of software that powers human communication.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Francis Altomare shows us how he leveraged various Amazon Web Services technologies to build a simple communication application in which email itself is an important interface.

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Boost Your Productivity With Clever Travel Hardware

You can buy capri pants, cheap flip-flops, and boonie hats anywhere on vacation, but beachside shops usually don’t carry quality hardware that can help you be more productive on the road or save you time and money for more enjoyable activities.

In this post, Toptal Technical Editor Nermin Hajdarbegovic takes a look at inexpensive and readily available travel hardware designed to boost your productivity on the road. You can put most of these gadgets on your summer shopping list without making a dent in your travel budget.

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Hunting Down Memory Issues In Ruby: A Definitive Guide

Memory issues in programs can be quite frustrating whether you’re the user or the developer attempting to solve the problem. In Ruby, the garbage collector plays a vital role in managing your program’s memory so that you can focus on other important things. However, it is often possible to overwhelm the garbage collector or end up with sneaky resources that cannot be freed, which can lead to all sorts of memory issues.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Bruz Marzolf explains why certain memory issues arise in Ruby applications and how to tackle them easily.

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Introduction to Kotlin: Android Programming For Humans

Java has been a dominant programming language for ages, but modern times call for modern languages. Meet Kotlin, a modern, clear, and expressive programming language powered by the same virtual machine technology that powers Java.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Tomasz Czura takes us for a spin through the world of Kotlin and shows us how it can be used to make an Android application with an elegant architecture without compromising the very qualities of the code that Kotlin aims to provide.

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Tips And Tools For Optimizing Android Apps

The plethora of tutorials on building Android apps may have you thinking that making a mobile app is simple. In reality, however, performance issues can be very complicated, and because performance plays a key role in making sure that your app stays on your users’ list of favorite apps for a long time, every little detail must be given one’s full attention.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Tibor Kaputa shares some tips on how you can optimize some common performance issues and identify some of the bottlenecks in your Android app.

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Testing Your Go App: Get Started The Right Way

When Golang first came out, there were next to no resources available about how to efficiently test your Go-written application. Even now, with plenty of guides and recommendations available, many bright-eyed developers still try to apply their Ruby or JavaScript mindset and use external frameworks to test apps written in Go.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Developer Gabriel Aszalos first explains Golang philosophy and then covers the basics of testing in Go, from table testing to JSON response assertion.

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Scaling Scala: How to Dockerize Using Kubernetes

Are you a Scala developer hoping to scale your application in the cloud? If so, meet Kubernetes, a cluster manager for Docker applications. Developed by Google, it’s the latest in new open source tools making major waves.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Michele Sciabarra guides us through a step-by-step tutorial on how to take a generic Scala application and implement Kubernetes and Docker to launch multiple instances of the application.

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Gulp: A Web Developer's Secret Weapon for Maximizing Site Speed

When dealing with web-based projects that run in the production environment, being able to build and deploy changes quickly is a top priority. However, repetitive processes such as building front-end assets, when not automated, can be prone to critical errors.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Anton Kanevsky shows us how Gulp can solve various challenges of build automation through simple JavaScript routines.

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Keep Calm And Transition To A New Development Team

Many product owners don’t have a technical background and thus often find themselves unprepared and scrambling when it comes time to bring on a new development team. This often results in hindered progress, wasted time, and frustration for everyone involved. If this sounds like it could be you, either now or in the future, then you should be somewhat concerned.

In this blog post, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Carlos Ramirez III will walk you through the various steps of a typical transition process in project management so you can prepare for this eventuality and make the transition as smooth as possible.

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Boost Your Data Munging with R

As a language, R is strongly tied to data and is thus used mostly by statisticians and data scientists. Many who already use R for machine learning, though, are not aware that data munging can be done faster in R, meaning another tool is not required for that task.

In this article, Freelance Software Engineer Jan Gorecki explores tabular data transformations and introduces us to one of the fastest open-source data wrangling tools available.

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Get Your Angular 2 On: Upgrading from 1.5

“So much of what’s new and exciting about Angular 2 is its new way of thinking rather than its new architecture,” says Toptal Freelance Developer Ethan James.

In this article, Ethan walks through the inner workings of a simple Angular 1.5 app and then shows us how to upgrade it to Angular 2 while giving us the necessary understanding to truly appreciate it.

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Web Audio API: Why Compose When You Can Code?

Meet Web Audio API, a powerful programming interface for controlling audio on the web. Gone are the days when the web browser could rarely play a sound file correctly. With this API, you can now load sound from different sources, apply effects, create visualizations, and do much more.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Joaquín Aldunate shows us how to unleash our inner musician using Web Audio API with the Tone.js framework by giving us a brief overview of what this API has to offer and how it can be used to manipulate audio on the web.

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Bidirectional Relationship Support in JSON

Ever tried to create a JSON data structure that includes entities with bidirectional relationships? If you have, you know that this often results in errors or exceptions being thrown.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Nirmel Murtic provides a robust working approach to avoiding these errors when creating JSON structures that included entities with bidirectional (i.e. circular) relationships.

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