Steve Klabnik

“The most violent element in society is ignorance.” - Emma Goldman

Page 3

Rust’s documentation is about to drastically improve

Historically, Rust has had a tough time with documentation. Such a young programming language changes a lot, which means that documentation can quickly be out of date. However, Rust is nearing a 1.0 release, and so that’s about to change. I’ve just signed a contract with Mozilla, and starting Monday, June 23rd, I will be devoting forty hours per week of my time to ensuring that Rust has wonderful documentation.

A year and a half ago, I was in my hometown for Christmas. I happened upon a link: Rust 0.5 released. I’ve always enjoyed learning new programming languages, and I had vaguely heard of Rust before, but didn’t really remember what it was all about. So I dug in. I loved systems programming in college, but had done web-based stuff my entire professional life, and hadn’t seriously thought about pointers as part of my day-to-day in quite some time.

There was just one problem: Rust

Continue reading →

I’m bailing on San Francisco

I was always not quite sure about moving to San Francisco. I’ve heard about this place for my entire life: back in high school, during the first bubble, I would read Slashdot and wonder about life out west. But San Francisco is like a vortex for software developers. It’s got this gravitational pull that’s hard to escape. When I made the choice to move here, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to handle it. Turns out I can’t.

So I’m leaving. My job is great, but it’s not worth staying in this city. I haven’t done anything outside of work in a few months. I go to work, work hard, go home, and then go to sleep. I don’t go home late. I go home at five. It’s not work/life balance that’s the issue. I’m just not psyched for the ‘life’ part. San Francisco has sucked out all my creativity, most of my passion, and has

Continue reading →

Hypermedia FizzBuzz

I read a really great blog post last week: Solving FizzBuzz with Hypermedia. In it, Stephen Mizell builds a FizzBuzz service using Siren, and then shows how client code evolves. I wanted to explain exactly why I think this example is amazing, because I’m not sure it’s exactly obvious.

 FizzBuzz? Really?

The first thing that makes this post brilliant is that it uses FizzBuzz. While FizzBuzz has historically been a simple interview question to make sure that you can actually write some basic code, in this case, it works well because it’s a very, very simple programming problem. When writing examples, there’s always tension between real-world and straw-man examples. If you make it too real-world, all sorts of incidental details creep in and distract from your main point. If you make a trivial example, it can be claimed that it works for your simple example, but not for ‘real’ examples

Continue reading →

How to be an open source gardener

I do a lot of work on open source, but my most valuable contributions haven’t been code. Writing a patch is the easiest part of open source. The truly hard stuff is all of the rest: bug trackers, mailing lists, documentation, and other management tasks. Here’s some things I’ve learned along the way.

It was RailsConf 2012. I sat in on a panel discussion, and the number of issues open on rails/rails came up. There were about 800 issues at the time, and had been for a while. Inquiring minds wished to know if that number was ever going to drop, and how the community could help. It was brought up that there was an ‘Issues team,’ whose job would be to triage issues. I enthusiastically volunteered.

But what does ‘issue triage’ mean, exactly? Well, on a project as large as Rails, there are a ton of issues that are incomplete, stale, need more information… and nobody was tending to them. It’s

Continue reading →

Is npm worth $2.6MM?

Yesterday, npm, Inc. announced that it had closed a $2.6MM round of funding. This was met with a bunch of derision on Twitter. I feel this is not only unwarranted, but backwards: I think this investment signals a nascent trend within the VC community, and a more honest view of how open source actually works.

Disclaimer: I’m just some random dude. I don’t have any privileged information about this investment or any of the others I’ll discuss in this post. I haven’t talked to any VCs to actually see if this is what they’re doing, and if I tried, they probably wouldn’t tell me anyway. That said, it doesn’t really matter: what they do is more important than what they intend.

Further disclaimer: I work for a company which has received investment from people mentioned in this article. I have never talked to those firms directly either, and I have no privileged information as to why they

Continue reading →

A 30 minute introduction to Rust

I recently gave a proposal for Rust’s documentation. An important component of my overall proposal is a short, simple introduction for people who may have heard of Rust, so that they can figure out if Rust is right for them. The other day, I saw this excellent presentation, and thought it might serve as a great basis for this introduction. Consider this an RFC for such an introduction. Feedback very welcome on the rust-dev mailing list or on Twitter.

 This tutorial has now become the official one.

Rust is a systems programming language that focuses on strong compile-time correctness guarantees. It improves upon the ideas other systems languages like C++, D, and Cyclone by providing very strong guarantees and explicit control over the life cycle of memory. Strong memory guarantees make writing correct concurrent Rust code easier than in other languages. This might sound very complex, but

Continue reading →

Rust is surprisingly expressive

Do you remember the first time you saw Rails’ ActiveSupport library? I do: it totally blew my mind. The only dynamic language I had used up to that point was Perl, and it had a similarly mind-blowing effect on my young self. I thought that dynamic typing was mostly a requirement towards making this kind of expressiveness possible, but it turns out Rust can be just as expressive, while retaining type safety and static dispatch.

There was a time in the early days of Rails when its evangelists would show off snippets of what it let you do. These were often ActiveSupport extensions to the core language itself. It’d go something like this:

Hey, have you tried Rails? Check this out:

irb(main):002:0> - 2.days
=> 2009-12-26 09:57:02 -0800
irb(main):003:0> 2.days.ago
=> 2009-12-26 09:57:04 -0800

Did I just blow your mind???

At the time, I enthusiastically replied “Yes, yes you

Continue reading →

How Dogecoin changed my perspective on cryptocurrency

I have long been a Bitcoin hater, for many reasons. But then, a fortnight ago, something happened. Dogecoin came into existence, and for some reason, I just couldn’t get mad about it. After some thoughtful self-evaluation this week, I’ve realized that Dogecoin has actually reversed my position on cryptocurrency. Here’s why: basically, I’ve come to see Dogecoin as an absurdist art project, mocking the entire global financial system.

Investment Disclaimer: This webpage is provided for general information only and nothing contained in the material constitutes a recommendation for the purchase or sale of any security. Although the statements of fact in this report are obtained from sources that I consider reliable, I do not guarantee their accuracy and any such information may be incomplete or condensed. Also views expressed in this Report are based on research materials available from

Continue reading →

Git, history modification, and libuv

There has been a recent kerfuffle over a pull request to libuv: it was rejected, applied, reverted, and re-applied. There was some question as to the authorship of that commit, and I wanted to show you why that was, because it illustrates how git handles history.

At first, the pull request was closed. Then, it was committed in 47d98b6. Then 804d40ee reverted that 47d98b6. But when you look at 804d40ee on GitHub, you’ll see no indication of which branch it’s on. That’s because it’s not on any branch. If you clone down libuv, and try to find the commit, you’ll see it’s not there:

~/libuv(master)$ git log 804d40e                                                                                                                
fatal: ambiguous argument '804d40e': unknown revision or path not in the working tree.  

What gives?

Let’s make a test repository:

$ mkdir test

Continue reading →

Why I’m partnering with Balanced

My next venture will be joining up with Balanced, an API for marketplace payments, and I’m really excited about it.
To the tax man, of course, the title of this post is “Why I’m going to be an
employee of Balanced,” but I like to think about it as a partnership.

 Why I Balanced

I first heard of Balanced almost exactly a year ago. You see, my friend Chad
had started this project called Gittip. He was using
Stripe to handle payments, but Gittip is a marketplace, and Stripe didn’t
support marketplaces. So they gave Gittip a month to find another processor. So
a Balanced employee came along and submitted a pull
request. I thought this was
super awesome. So much so, that I tweeted it:

I still told people that story

Continue reading →