Public Code Number One

Today I finally released my first public code into the wild. I’ve been teaching myself programming, and throughout the learning process, my code has been in private repositories with Bitbucket. It was a struggle to feel confident enough to put anything of my own on Github, but I realized I have nothing to be afraid of. As a newcomer to the programming world, I’ve had what many refer to as impostor syndrome. Even though I’ve read style guidelines and paid close attention to how others publish code, there’s been an underlying fear of criticism without any constructive suggestions. What I realized is how silly that sounds. In my time browsing Github, I don’t recall thinking anyone was a total jerk. There have been disagreements, sure, but no trolling and certainly nothing like a lot of other places on the internet. I know my script works, so I added a license, a nice README.md, and pushed it out into the world!

The repo I pushed is a little script that checks whether or not a website can be reached. It then logs the result to a text file and, if provided with an email, sends an alert when the site is down. I have it set up to run as a cronjob on my home server. Every ten minutes it checks my site and that of my wonderful partner in everything, Kenzie. Her web host unfortunately put her site on a server that was having a lot of downtime problems. In order to get an idea of how bad the problem was, I thought it would be perfect to have a log we could refer to. The notification email wasn’t 100% necessary, but it seemed like a neat idea and I really wanted to learn how to send emails from my machine! I was right, it turned out to be a fun feature and I had a great time setting up my first Postfix server.

Overall I feel really good about this first step. It may just be a simple script, but it represents much more than that to me. A metaphorical door in my mind has been opened to feeling comfortable doing this again. There’s another project I’ve been working on that’s getting close to ready. This one, however, is a command-line app. That means it will also be released as a Gem, Ruby’s software packaging system. The code won’t just be hosted on Github, but also on rubygems.org. It would be usable by anyone with Ruby installed, simply using ‘gem install’. Makes me a bit more nervous about it, but I really like how the program is coming out and I’m actually getting pretty excited to share it!

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