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JSON Web Tokens: Downsides, Best Practices and Secure and Robust Alternatives

JSON Web Tokens (JWTs) nowadays are commonly used for transmitting authentication data in web applications, especially those exhibiting the widespread client-server architecture where you have a fat client / single-page application written in JavaScript as a front-end and a back-end server providing REST endpoints for use by that front-end client. However, while common there are good arguments against this practice. In a nutshell, JWT often are used for storing session data such user authorization and authentication information although they aren't particularly well-suited to ... Read more

“Accessible HTML Content Patterns” by Eric Bailey

Accessibility, though unfortunately often still treated as an afterthought, is a key part of developing and providing software products, web applications in particular. Accessibility, mark you, isn't just an enabler for those with special needs, although that's sufficient reason for paying attention to your web apps being accessible. Accessibility also is about designing products and processes to be accessible regardless of the device they're used on, the circumstance they're used in and the people they're used by. In that vein, designer Eric Bailey ... Read more

Rarely Used But Useful PostgreSQL Features

I'm an avid user of SQL and the variety of - frequently overlooked - features it provides. However, unfortunately the possibilities of SQL and modern, advanced open source incarnations of RDBMS such as PostgreSQL aren't utilised to the extent they could be when developing web or enterprise applications today. More often than not SQL database are perceived as a mere data store for persisting object-oriented data, which can give rise to the famous object-relational impedance mismatch. SQL servers, PostgreSQL in particular, are capable ... Read more

Boring Solutions Revisited: Choose Boring Technology by Dan McKinley

Dan McKinley's article on choosing boring solutions, although not exactly new anymore, has been a welcome reminder for me to revisit the topic of of using boring solutions and keeping things simple. Dan makes the point that "adding technology to your company comes with a cost" or as I stated in my own article on this subject: "The elephant in the room is: There’s an opportunity cost to everything." Most choices come with a trade-off. If you decide to use a technology for the ... Read more

HTTP and REST Standards, Protocols and Headers for More Secure and More Robust Applications

Standards.REST is a website that helps you create better, more robust HTTP- and REST-based applications by providing an overview of existing, proven standards that allow you to build on existing solutions rather than re-invent the wheel yourself. The list of standards mentioned includes OAuth 2.0, the HTTP Caching standard and Application-Level Profile Semantics (ALPS), which - among others - is used extensively in Spring Data REST and Spring HATEOAS. On a closely related note, Stefan Judis published an article on HTTP headers ... Read more

Running A Local Angular Development Environment Behind A Spring Cloud Gateway Service

Having multiple microservices running behind a reverse proxy / API gateway in lieu of a single monolithic back-end application is a common pattern these days. With such an architecture it often comes in handy to have an Angular application that serves as a front-end for such a modularised back-end be served from behind a reverse proxy running locally as well in order to treat it is if it were running on the same host and port as the back-end. Not only will ... Read more

“Paging with Spring Boot” by Tom Hombergs: A Guide to Paging and Pagination in Spring-based Web Applications

In his article Paging with Spring Boot software engineer Tom Hombergs (a former fellow student) provides an in-depth explanation of paging and pagination concepts and how to implement those in web applications with Spring Data and its Pageable interface. The article covers aspects such as sorting, usage with Spring Data repositories and testing. It's a useful reference for iteratively retrieving and displaying a larger amount of items from a database in a Spring Boot and Spring Data context in an efficient manner. There's ... Read more

What’s Digitalisation Actually About?

Digitalisation, or digital transformation, as it is sometimes also called is an important subject matter as well as challenge for businesses today. Therefore, I find it strangely confusing that sometimes aspects are lumped together under this umbrella that are not or only tangentially related to what digitalisation actually is about. So, here's my - perhaps opinionated - take on what digitalisation is actually about and what it entails. In a nutshell, digitalisation comprises these aspects: Rethinking and being willing to change existing processes. Making ... Read more

A Guide to Refactoring Large Functions by Robert Muth

Software Engineer Robert Muth wrote this interesting article on refactoring large functions. The article starts with providing ample motivation for using functions (or methods in a strictly object-oriented context). Apart from making code shareable and reusable, which is only a minor benefit of functions / methods, reasons for writing code as functions are: giving a meaningful name to several lines of related code readability limiting visibility lowering indentation levels improving testability The article goes on to describe several common cues indicating that extracting the code at hand to ... Read more

PivotHelper: Generate Pivot Tables and Pivot Charts from CSV and Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet Files

Somewhat recently, I regularly had to generate Pivot tables and corresponding charts from datasets provided as both CSV and Microsoft Excel files. Now, with its data source and pivot table tools Microsoft Excel usually lends itself to that sort of task. However, to completely automate this task VBA macros are required. Those too work quite nicely if one overcomes the initial aversion of working with Microsoft's not exactly well-designed and usable IDE for VBA macros (Excel's own macro recording feature is quite ... Read more
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