Christian's Q4 2023 Update

Jan 10, 2024

This last quarter has been an interesting one. Development on the Unordered library has slowed down so I’ve been re-tasked with aiding in the development of a whole new slew of HTTP/1-based libraries.

The new year is a common time for reflection on where one’s been and how far one has come. When I first started working on Unordered, I knew relatively little about hash tables. I was somewhat versed in C++ container design and implementation but in hindsight, I knew little to nothing in actuality.

I’ve now since become an expert in library minutiae. As an example, I spent no less than an hour discussing the validity of allocator-constructing a stack-local variable as part of an optimization technique for Unordered’s flat maps.

It’s been quite a privilege to essentially study C++ under a couple of world experts, Joaquín M López Muñoz and Peter Dimov. I’ll never be able to see hash table design the way Joaquín does but his incredibly sharp and compact way of solving complex problems has forever changed how I write C++ code. On the other hand, Peter’s helped guide and shape how I think about testing and actualizing it in code effectively.

My new found aptitude for testing has led to a shift in how I develop software going forward, something I’m calling “failure driven development”. While most TDD workflows involve starting with a failing test case first, they don’t often stress the importance of testing failures themselves. For example, code that opens a file and the file does not exist. I’ve applied the principles I learned on the job to my hobby projects and because of this, I’ve actually found a bug in the io_uring Linux kernel module. I also helped diagnose a performance regression as well.

A principle I’ve learned is that you don’t really understand code or a system until you test what kinds of errors it outputs and how it behaves under those conditions.

I look forward to the future in helping deliver these HTTP/1 libraries as they’re going to be dramatic improvements over the existing Beast library but I’ll never forget what Unordered taught me.

It’s interesting working for a fully remote company like the Alliance because my coworkers are scattered all over the globe, from Spain to Bulgaria and beyond. Expertise is scattered all throughout the world and it’s amazing how technology enables so much collaboration. It also enables me to hone my skills in slow-cooking recipes and I’m now on a quest to completely master the dish chile colorado.

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