You can become a serverless blackbelt. Enrol to my 4-week online workshop Production-Ready Serverless and gain hands-on experience building something from scratch using serverless technologies. At the end of the workshop, you should have a broader view of the challenges you will face as your serverless architecture matures and expands. You should also have a firm grasp on when serverless is a good fit for your system as well as common pitfalls you need to avoid. Sign up now and get 15% discount with the code yanprs15!
Why does the dog wag its tail?
Because the dog is smarter than the tail.
If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog.
The phrase wag the dog refers to times when something of a secondary importance improperly takes on the role of something of primary importance. As I watched the recording of Tim Ewald’s excellent talk Clojure : Programming with Hand Tools it is the phrase that popped into my mind when Tim concluded that
The tools that you use shape the way you view the world.
Tim’s talk is on the dangers of blindly automate with tools without fully understanding them, and one of the strong points he made is that instead of being the master of our tools we have so often allowed them to dictate us instead. If you consider the programming languages we use as part of the tools in our developer toolbox, they have a similar ‘wag the dog’ effect on us as they restrict the possibilities we see and the solutions we are able to create when faced with a problem.
If all you know is object-oriented and imperative programming, then how will you even know if a better, more elegant solution exists with functional, logic or other programming paradigms? Or that they don’t?
In his letter to the Budget Council of the University of Texas, the great Dijkstra wrote:
[…] functional programming immediately drives home the message that there is more to programming than they thought. […] It’s not only the violin that shapes the violinist, we are all shaped by the tools we train ourselves to use, and in this respect programming languages have a devious influence: they shape our thinking habits. […]
The best way to overcome the limitations and “shape” that our tools have placed upon us is to actively seek a broader perspective, by exposing ourselves to different ways of thinking. What better way to do that than to try out different programming paradigms and languages. Luckily for us, we’re spoilt for choice at the moment – F#, Clojure, Scala, Haskell, Erlang, Go, Julia, Dart, Elixir, Rust, the list goes on, and each offers something unique and interesting.
In his inspirational talk The Future of Programming, Bret Victor offer a glimpse into a past that many of us was never fortunate enough to experience; a past that had so much more variety because there was no preconception about what the “right” way is, so all of a sudden everything is possible and everything is permissible!
It is a sentiment that is shared by none other than Alan Kay, who spoke of a wealth of history that are worth revisiting as you ponder about the future, in his 2011 talk Programming and Scaling.
To wrap up this short post, don’t let the languages/tools we use master us, broaden your horizons by learning and seeing the possibilities that your tools/languages might not want you to see, better yourself and become the master of your tools.
Be the dog that wags the tail.
Hi, I’m Yan. I’m an AWS Serverless Hero and I help companies go faster for less by adopting serverless technologies successfully.
Are you struggling with serverless or need guidance on best practices? Do you want someone to review your architecture and help you avoid costly mistakes down the line? Whatever the case, I’m here to help.
Skill up your serverless game with this hands-on workshop.
My 4-week Production-Ready Serverless online workshop is back!
This course takes you through building a production-ready serverless web application from testing, deployment, security, all the way through to observability. The motivation for this course is to give you hands-on experience building something with serverless technologies while giving you a broader view of the challenges you will face as the architecture matures and expands.
We will start at the basics and give you a firm introduction to Lambda and all the relevant concepts and service features (including the latest announcements in 2020). And then gradually ramping up and cover a wide array of topics such as API security, testing strategies, CI/CD, secret management, and operational best practices for monitoring and troubleshooting.
If you enrol now you can also get 15% OFF with the promo code “yanprs15”.
Check out my new podcast Real-World Serverless where I talk with engineers who are building amazing things with serverless technologies and discuss the real-world use cases and challenges they face. If you’re interested in what people are actually doing with serverless and what it’s really like to be working with serverless day-to-day, then this is the podcast for you.
Check out my new course, Learn you some Lambda best practice for great good! In this course, you will learn best practices for working with AWS Lambda in terms of performance, cost, security, scalability, resilience and observability. We will also cover latest features from re:Invent 2019 such as Provisioned Concurrency and Lambda Destinations. Enrol now and start learning!
Check out my video course, Complete Guide to AWS Step Functions. In this course, we’ll cover everything you need to know to use AWS Step Functions service effectively. There is something for everyone from beginners to more advanced users looking for design patterns and best practices. Enrol now and start learning!
Here is a complete list of all my posts on serverless and AWS Lambda. In the meantime, here are a few of my most popular blog posts.
- All you need to know about caching for serverless applications
- Lambda optimization tip – enable HTTP keep-alive
- You are wrong about serverless and vendor lock-in
- You are thinking about serverless costs all wrong
- Just how expensive is the full AWS SDK?
- Check-list for going live with API Gateway and Lambda
- How to choose the right API Gateway auth method
- CloudFormation protip: use !Sub instead of !Join
- AWS Lambda – should you have few monolithic functions or many single-purposed functions?
- Guys, we’re doing pagination wrong
- Top 10 Serverless framework best practices
- How to break the “senior engineer” career ceiling
- My advice to junior developers