Recursively validate application requests with Rack

posted in articles


Previously, I described a process of using Rack to validate request objects for malicious formats (specifically null bytes). However, request params come in many different formats from arrays to hashes to arrays containing hashes, there are a lot of different cases to cover. Fortunately using recursion allows for an elegant solution that covers each scenario.

Don't let the null bytes bite

posted in articles


Have you ever encountered Argument error "string contains null byte"? What this means is that a null byte character \u0000 was sent as a part of the request body. This can indicate a malicious request from someone trying to probe your application for vulnerabilities. So how can you avoid the stinging byte of invalid characters? Rack to the rescue!

Signing commits for Github and Sublime Merge

posted in tutorials


Signing commits is a great way to add additional level of confidence to your code. This is especially important if you are an open source contributor. By signing your commit you’re saying that it originated from a verified author. This is accomplished by using GPG which is a free encryption and signing tool.

Github has taken this one step farther and now shows signed commit authors with a verified badge. Not only is this a great way to see at a glance if code comes from a trusted source, but the verified badge looks slick.

Testing request specs for invalid formats, Pundit authorization, and ActiveRecord failures

posted in articles


Request formats should match their endpoints. Authorization adds a split between authorized and unauthorized requests. ActiveRecord means we’re at times making an unnecessary database calls (which I like to avoid). One way to minimize such calls is to stub interactions between objects using stubbing.

For the remainder of this post, we’re going to dig into how to properly test invalid request formats, authorization logic, and ActiveRecord failures. Let’s get to it!

Using request-based constraints to only accept JSON formats for endpoints

posted in today i learned


I prefer doing things The Rails Waytm whenever possible. Oftentimes when you are working with web requests, your controllers expect to respond to specific content formats. Formats that are outside of this expected format are generally handled within the controller layer. There’s nothing wrong with this approach BUT we can do better here by using request-based constraints in the Routing layer.

Prevent CSS transitions on page load with ES6

posted in articles


I recently noticed on my blog that sometimes the CSS hover transitions for font-size, border-color, and color animate on page load. While this doesn’t impact the final design, it does make the initial page load a bit of a stylistic mess.

I stumbled upon a great post on css-tricks that outlined a fix for this issue using jQuery. However, my goal for this site has always been keeping it as lean as possible. That's why I use Jekyll for static pages and minimal scripting (outside Disqus and Google Analytics). So of course I dug into how we can skip jQuery and just use ES6.

Calculating Frequency Distribution in PostgreSQL

posted in tutorials


I’ve always loved statistics. Being a software engineer has allowed me a lot of opportunities to solve complex statistical problems in SQL. With programming, we want to consider the current state of data which means running calculations on demand. Recently, I had the opportunity to calculate frequency distribution in SQL and wanted to share what I’ve learned with you.

Formatting Enum columns into a human readable format with SQL

posted in today i learned


Enum columns can be really handy when working with Rails. There are a lot of built-in helper methods that allow for quickly writing code and they make type-checking simple. However, when working with raw SQL they can be difficult to work with as they’re stored as integers and as such lose their meaning. Keep reading to dig into a shortcut for staying SQL-land while returning an Enum in a human readable format.

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