About me

I am here and you are on this site because we are sharing the same passion : Software

My name is Sylvain Leroy and I am developing and saving software from all kind of sickness.

What is defining me the most precisely is my passion for Software and coding.

As explained on my company site (byoskill.com), I have three passions :

  • Software craftmanship (SQA)
  • Legacy software migration
  • and startup environments

I have been doing that from so long

I discovered coding something around 10, on our family Commodore 64/128.

Commode 64/128

Commode 64/128

Back in these times, I didn’t know about coding, I learnt how to use it to get what I wanted. Games, interests. I was curious to manipulate and understand this strange creature.

Basic program

Basic program

Of course I had normal activities, friends, sports. However this machine fascinated me. We had two big books, in English, a foreign language to me, full of code listing. I spent numerous to painstakingly type them on this computer. Some code were games, some revealed to be funny noise / sound effects, plane engine.

I had the chance to be from the generation who grew up with computers and incredible progresses.

We switched one day to x86, a 286 with single coloured screen. I remember the screen was pale glowing in my room at night.

I made obvious progresses in Basic, QBasic, Visual Basic (my college passion),  switched to Pascal(Delphi) at 14 during the middle school.

At 16, I was efficient in Delphi and I tried the C language without enthusiasm.

I discovered at the same time ASM/Z80 programming to use on my Texas calculator and I switched from Pascal to ASM, with all the set, TASM, TLINK.

The book “the Art of Assembly Language” had a huge impact on me. I printed it with our good old printer in 4 big binders. And started to love it.

I continued until 18 my experience of assembly programming on two fields :

I finally has switched to C/C++ late 19 using Visual C++. I have been slowly mastering it. I was always tempted to switch to ASM using asm statements. To program with limited resources is so much funnier than with high level languages.

A lucky meeting changed my life and course

I have been following a Computer science diploma in two years at the University of Rennes 1 (Lannion). And then I discovered I could not work in industrial automation because a wrong choice of course. I switched to a general computer sciences Licence (3rd year).

During my master degree, I choose as exam project, a technical project in which we were supposed to write a Java syntactic analysis tool (linter). This meeting with this professor, Francois Bodin, had a influence of my final year of study, and at minimum the next ten years of my life.

Together, under his tutelage, we imagined a research project, a project of company creation, and we launched it. It was Tocea, which lived from 2009 to 2015 before being absorbed by a Software Editor, Metrixware.

In my mind; I am and will be eternally grateful, for the opportunity – the seed – Francois offered to me. It has been an  incredible adventure. This environment was totally new for me, my family, my surrounding, given our social origins.

Serenitec : research project

Serenitec : research project

Tocea : my passion, and my initiatory route

Offically Tocea has been created in March 2010 after 3 years of research project and one year of incubation.

Research project Serenitec

Research project Serenitec

We were three at the beginning, and the project was called Navis.

Against, there, Marie-Anne  and Florent, have been of a great help and influenced positively the view of what could be Tocea, both socially and professionally.

Tocea / modele_carte_recto2

Tocea / modele_carte_recto2

A french article here of this period.

Francois Morin, is also important to me, since we brought Tocea to its maturity together. Co-founding a company is never simple. We had to learn from each other, to be able to work together. The stability and the trust of our relationship has been like the warm fireplace that attracts the frozen voyagers. And we simply attract the best to reach together our ambitions as a small software editor we were.

Our company had his life , successes and failures , joy and pain but I remember it as a wonderful social experience. I have seen students coming for their first experience, getting their first job, growing up and becoming our real assets. Tocea has been a success (humanely) thanks our people. They gave us our trust, and we tried together to create something great.

Links :

The transition

Tocea ended peacefully to become a more serious business under the acquisition by Metrixware. Fair enough, Metrixware, a well-known software editor specialized in Legacy system and migrations, saved us at that time, our business was in a full transition after some critical mistakes and a hard business year (for the whole sector).

I learnt much from being there about processes, change management and also company culture. Three things crucial for the success of any projects.

Now, I am wandering, by the flows of my dear family and my passion

As a lucky father of two children, husband of a devoted wife who is from an incredible help and amazing wisdom, I am enjoying my new road, currently in Switzerland.

I have been since working full time as IT Consultant for large institutions. Recently, I created a small structure www.byoskill.com in which I am providing my experience for dedicated missions.

Each encounter, with either a Software either a team, is pushing me forward to what I love the most :

Empowering people, saving Software and developing great tools.

 

1

Writing an integration test with a mail server

This is a simple example of code to demonstrate how to use the library fakesmtp-junit-runner to write integration tests.

The library has been released on GitHub and Maven Central. Continue Reading

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Test and Data Generation for Java Unit tests

Today I was preparing a presentation about Software Code quality for a TechTalk on Thursday. I made a search on Internet about Automatic Unit test generator and Data Generators. I will present some tools I have tried. Today, we will speak of Randoop.

Randoom Test Generator

Randoom Test Generator

The first tool name is Randoop.. This tool is existing since 2007 and its purpose is to generate automatically unit tests 🙂 Directly from your class definition!

To use it you have two choices:

  • You can use your software JAR or classpath directory.
  • You can include it in your test compile path (on gradle or maven) and creates a main or unit test.

To explain short the theory, thanks to the Java reflection it’s quite easy to produce automatic tests validating some contracts of your API.

Some examples: – toString() should never returns null or throws an Exception – equals() and compareTo() methods have a long list of constraints – Reflexivity: o.equals(o) == true – Symmetry: o1.equals(o2) == o2.equals(o1) – Transitivity: o1.equals(o2) && o2.equals(o3) ⇒ o1.equals(o3) – Equals to null: o.equals(null) == false – It does not throw an exception

Therefore this tool is generating unit tests with JUnit(TestSuite) for the list of classes you provide.

I have done some tests and you can reach 50-60% of coverage quite easily.

The main drawbacks of the solution are: – The unit tests are drawing a snapshot (precise picture) of your code and its behaviour however some tests are really non-sense and you don’t want to edit them. – They don’t replace handwritten tests since the tool is not understand the different between a String parameter emailand fullName. He will mostly use dumb strings.

About the technology, it’s not production ready: – I had troubles with the jar and its dependency plume. – The JAR is a fatjar and coming with dependencies that broke my software.

In conclusion, I will fork the software and try to fix the problems to make it more popular 🙂

1

How Docker is disrupting Legacy IT Companies

Thanks to its popularity, Docker has disrupted many companies and blurred the silos between Developers and Operations. In this article, based partially on my own experiences, I will depict some of the disruptions that containers have provoked into the IT companies. I wish that this article will depict familiar situations and brings you argument to win the obstacles to the container technology propagation 🙂

Disclaimer : Despite I am quoting Docker quite a lot in this article, it is not an endorsed article. If you have a better alternative, simply replace Docker by another Container Technology, the arguments should still be valid.

If you appreciate this article, please relay or like it.

 Day one : I don’t need to spend four hours to setup my development environment

That is my first day on the job. A brand-new laptop, decent performance and feature. Default Operating system : Windows.

Well, I am a Linux hardcore developer and I spent many efforts to live without Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. And who knows ? Maybe my customers won’t be on Windows. Therefore, I am wondering how to create my new software development environments ? Node.JS ? Java ? Mobile, each technology is coming with their own tools, servers and configuration.

What are the choices ? The company is fair and provides a decent laptop with sufficient power. However the software installation on the native OS has been blocked. I need to proceed by virtual machines. Virtual machines ? What a cumbersome solution. I need to download ISO or OVA’s and proceed to the installation of my software. What is your virtual machine creation’s strategy ? I made a quick survey to my colleagues, who confirm that they create a virtual machine by customer’s project. And they share their virtual machine like Pokemon. WTF ? Many dozen of gigabytes are transferred through USB3, a tiny hard drive and the team is ready. Well after several hours.

Docker or any similar container technology is offering me a better solution.

These are the following arguments :

  • Reduce your startup time and be more efficient. You can find many docker images to set up a development environment ready to use :

  • Docker image node.js dev : A Dev environment for JS
  • Docker image Ruby Dev, Docker image Ruby Dev2
  • Docker image C/C++ on Linux
  • Docker image Java Dev
  • Docker image PHP Dev

  • Broadcast your software programming best practices by using the same env in your team. As a tech lead, my mission is to make my colleagues better than me. And to reach that goal, I am trying to provide them the best tools, configuration, IDE, and automation to help them in their work. How many times, I had to provide a format style guideline to indent their code ? A syntax checker configuration ? An IDE with the right plugins ? All these issues can be solved by providing my docker image and updating it regularly.

  • The time for for Web IDE software is probably come : Eclipse and Visual Studio, Borland Delphi, such IDE have been used by generations of developers. They all come with the same advantages and drawbacks. Powerful, clever code completion, nice OS integration and notifications, a whole bad of features. Clearly the develop has a great environment to write its software but these solutions do not scale well inside a team. How to share my configuration ? My preferences ? How to share code ? How to communicate ? To create coziness in your team, you will have to rely on a great IT administrator. A magician of the command line, Powershell to setup your OS with the same configuration everywhere, yet able to update it regularly.

My recommendation is to rely on two kind of tools to produce your software : – lightweight code editors such like Atom, Visual Studio Code from Microsoft – Web IDE such like Cloud 9 or CodeEnvy is a great example. Using Eclipse Che, the web rewrite of Eclipse, a Saas IDE with the same lot of features and configuration. The most amazing thing is that this great and complex system can be installed with a Docker one liner.

 Day two : Security everywhere, freedom and performance nowhere

As software specialists, we are well aware of the threats coming from the web applications, unobserved operating systems, data breaches. Our daily duty is to protect our customer data.

The consequence for developers is a matter of rule, our computers are locked. Software installation is double checked by IT, Internet is accessed through a proxy, antivirus, whitelist and so on. Hard disk ciphered and so on. in ch All developments have to be done on Virtual machines. BUT Virtual machines are such a pain to manage. A huge disk space, hard to customize, fairly expensive solutions (licence cost of VMWare to be able to perform VM snapshot on every developer laptop…)

Docker Datacenter

Docker Datacenter

Building Virtual Disk images is a tremendous task for the system administrators : slow to copy, hard to customize, mostly manual installation and snapshots to produce them. Developers does not find the necessary flexibility to adapt to their customer projects.

Docker is offering a neat and efficient way to produce images, thanks to the docker script language. A good mix between automation and the traditional system administrator work of producing shell scripts.

Using Docker images is offering enough security control to system administrator, less efforts to maintain and developers can also provide easily their own images to the Security/Administrator Team for review. But how to store your Docker images. At the present time, I would recommend something like Docker Datacenter to host your company containers on premise.

Day twenty : The typical legacy IT Project

Traditional "legacy" IT Projects features : * a code base * scripts to build the software * some manual test cases * a huge and extensive installation documentation to setup : * the test environment * the production environment * perform the maintenance, the upgrade, the backup of the system * scripts to install the database schema

In practice, most IT projects enforces developers to manually install their development, test, production environments using an out of date documentation, incomplete. How the software team is performing a QA session ? Will they create a brand new test environment with fresh data in a given state and the latest produced software version ? The answer is probably no, definitively no.

Usually, IT teams are relying on a single test server, painstakingly built through the scrum sprints, on a virtual machine. Do you think that I am exaggerating ? Ask to your team, how much time do they need to recreate this environment ? And what if their snapshot is lost or damaged ?

Continuous Dockery, ElectricCloud image property

Continuous Dockery, ElectricCloud image property

Docker is providing several solutions to common IT project problems :

  • Deploying the customer application on the developer laptop : docker images are shared between developers to have access to a debug environment. Docker composer can help the software development team to build ready-to-use.

  • Initializing and populating a database for tests : another solution to execute integration tests is to rely on Docker to build an image, ready-to-use of your data. Start the container, wait the readiness , execute your integration tests and kill the container once used. Such scenario is easy to create with Docker, even with proprietary databases such like Oracle of MSSQL. This article is a good instruction to Docker and test automation.

Deterministic Test Automation

Deterministic Test Automation

  • Multiple target and environment compilation : Developers often need to test their software in different environments, browsers. Docker images also provide a solution to the complexity of a software environment.

Day forty : The void of the production environment

Recently, I have encountered a brilliant developer – although alone – maintaining a messy piece of PHP code. He was not the originator of the project, though, in charge of the project since two years. He told me that the manager offered him a virtual machine with everything on it at the begin of the project, to help him. The same one he is using on it.

Currently, he is struggling with the customer and that software. Both the customer and him have different deployment environments. And the difference of server, languages and frameworks versions is creating a huge mess.

Another project and situation. This IT team has been relying on Ansible (with Puppet it would have been the same situation), to deploy their software in the different environments. Despite the improvements thanks to the automation provided by Ansible, there is always a slight tension when launching the Ansible scripts. Maybe it’s the system entropy, the virtual machine erosion, most likely the reason is that the virtual machine has never been deleted and recreated. Anyway there are some subtile differences between the environments and probably and the Ansible deployments are sometimes failing when new features are shipped.

System erosion

System erosion

With that team, we have reached a common point of view. When should we use Ansible to deploy the software ? We should rather use Ansible to prepare the virtual machines to host Docker, open the firewall, establishing the network routes, program the monitoring and so on. And the software will be shipped as a docker image, copied by Ansible and launched.

Docker/Containers can simplify your software deployments whether you have a private cloud or regular virtual machines. Simply install the docker system on your virtual machines and change your way to ship your software, past the effort, you won’t regret it.

Day eighty : The good old mama’s Software Factory

The last situation where Docker/Containers is really brilliant is when you use Docker inside your software factory.

Docker can be used in a software factory to make your Software factory evolve from a monolithic all-usage but slow and frustrating software factory to a real platform Software Factory As A Service (If you like the term SFAAS, it’s mine 🙂

The main differences between a Software Factory and a SFAAS are the following : – Product owner, Team manager are creating the new Software Factories for their projects directly through a WebUI by picking the technologies, tools they need. – Developers have the possibility to instantiate new environments to build or test the software without any interaction, paper submission and waiting for a round trip between Earth and Mars. – Integration engineers are providing new tools and environments accessible to the projects, if they wish. – Few interactions are necessary between the infrastructure and system administration teams and the software teams. It’s a win-win solution and the IT bottleneck has been removed.

Docker Software Factory : Marcel Birkner

Docker Software Factory : Marcel Birkner

I strongly recommend that Software factories built on the top of containers like these great initiative projects.

Conclusion

If you have read the whole article, I can only say you a Big thank you and I hope you have been able to learn one thing or two. The apparition of containers is really helping developers, ops and I wish that the IT companies fully embrace these technologies to make our profession much funnier and attractive.

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Codacy : an easy-to use code quality review solution

Some time ago, I organized a talk on “Code Quality and why developers should care about” for my company. In that presentation, I demonstrate some tools, unfamiliar for the audience : young developers and battle-hardened IT developers. One among these tools has brought to me a lot of questions : Codacy. I will present its features and perform a comparison between Codacy and SonarQube from SonarSource.

Continue Reading

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Five trending technologies for Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation

Today I stumbled upon that interesting article. That is a summary / prediction of some emerging technologies that are useful for the Digital Transformation. Have you ever tried them ?

These technologies are :

  • Apache Spark : the well-known opensource solution for Machine Learning and Deep Learning
  • Okta : a solution that I have used in a previous project to federate identity and authentication. A Saas service that provides SSO/SAML authentication. Its usage could be better documented tough take a look at it!
  • MultiChain : a software tool for web asset and legal contracts on blockchain, allows its customers to control whether the chain is private or public
  • Puppet : Puppet is an IT Automation solution that I have also used during the past two years to build Software factories. I am rather dubious how the solution is nowadays comparing against Docker and its ecosystem. It’s basically a client agent/server soljtion to deploy servers and applications. The worst of all is that it’s written in Ruby 🙂
  • Capriza : Capriza seems to be a low-code solution. I personaly did not know it since we have many partnerships with other solutions in my new Company (as Appway). I will take a look at it too.

The link 5 technologies for rapid Digital Transformation