This is Jawher Moussa's blog

in which he writes about technical stuff

5 years and 3 days later ...

Wow, how time flies by !

My last blog post (before this one that is) dates from 5 years and 3 days ago.

5 years and 2 days later, here I am creating a new post to say that I’m reviving this blog after this long hiatus.

I thought long & hard about why I didn’t write a single post in all these years, and it all boils down to: Blogging is hard.

Why blogging is hard

Writing is hard and takes time

Blogging takes time: thinking about the subject,the article structure, the wording, …

Then there is the writing, the reading-what-you-just-wrote, the not-liking-it, rewording-and-tweaking-it-three-or-ten-times, the typo-fixing, the rinse-and-repeat, …

I guess what I’m saying is: writing in natural languages is hard, compared to say writing in a programming language (Go, even Java, …).

Such language have a very restricted vocabulary and grammar (notice how I didn’t include C++ or Scala in the examples I cited earlier).
Also, the compiler or interpreter is there to yell at me if it detects any mistakes.

In comparison, writing in English (or French) is a completely different proposition: millions of words to choose from, and an organically-grown and highly irregular grammar and idioms to follow.

Self-Imposed high bar

I know that I speak for a lot of us when I say: One of the reasons I don’t blog often or hardly ever is: almost nothing I’m going to write is going to be ground-breaking or unique & original.

To give you an idea of the extent of this problem: look at this particular post of mine (dating from 2015): Parsing command line arguments using a finite state machine and backtracking.

In that post, besides the huge wall of text and the never-ending graphviz diagrams, I went full tryhard mode and coded a whole interactive graph animation system, using dagre and d3.js and lots of custom code.

I can’t remember how long it took me to finish that article, but it must have been too much. I can’t do that for every single post.

Yet, I will try to blog again

For 2 main reasons:

Writing is an invaluable skill

Writing is an invaluable skill.

Enough said.

The content is useful

Back to the self-imposed high bar:

I consider myself to be a decent programmer. I my career, I worked on large/complex code bases, implemented non trivial features and fixed hairy bugs.

Yet, I often turn to google for some very basic, downright embarrassing questions.

Admit it: you too dear reader asked Google something so trivial that you did it in the private browsing mode, feeling judged by Larry & Sergey.

Sometimes, late a t night, I have 1 or 2 hours to work on a side project before hitting the bed.
I need to bang some quick throw-away code to accomplish something in an unfamiliar language/framework.
As an experienced & pragmatic programmer, but also a “I am too pressed for time, sleep-deprived , I decide that I do not need to spend lots of time trying to learn/understand this particular subject in depth. It’s a throw-away code snippet, and I have other more urgent matters to attend to.

So I google it as it is, e.g. (those are real searches I’ve done recently):

I almost all of those cases, the answer could be found directly in the concerned tool/language/framework documentation.

But those docs are too much.

What I’m really looking for when searching for those are exactly the kind of posts I feel beneath me: someone somewhere decided it was worth it to write a post showing how to “iterate over object keys” in javascript, and it was exactly what I needed at that moment.
Not a language specification. Not a fully exhaustive & well structured documentation.
Just a one page long post with the snippet I needed.

I will think about this whenever I’m hesitating to write about a subject because I find it “too trivial, it won’t help anyone”.

Oh, one more thing

I’m convinced by now that I will never change: I am a master at yak shaving & wheel reinventing.

When I decided to start blogging again, I didn’t do the the first thing a normal person would do, i.e. write an effing new post.

Instead, I spent the last 7 or 8 days:

Classic Jawher šŸ¤¦ā€ā™‚ļø1

So where were we ?

Ah right:

Just blog dammit.
It doesn't need to be Nobel-prize worthy material.
Somebody somewhere will find it useful.

Thoughts ?

Disqus went to shit. So I got rid of it in this reincarnation.

I’m looking into other options (,, remark42, …)

In the meantime, please feel free to yell at me in twitter for example:

  1. While it may seem that all these roundabouts were a waste of time, I am glad I got to test-drive puppeteer which I’m sure will come in handy in other projects. I’m also a convert of Figma: never going to design anything directly in HTML/CSS again. ↩︎