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How I stay productive in a big project

December 18, 2018

…and not get lost on the way.

Problem

For almost a year I’ve been a part of a big and mature JavaScript project. No frameworks. Just Node, JS and MVC. Often times when I am fixing a bug I have to jump into multiple files and classes for investigation. My open files tab gets full really quickly. My main problem is jumping between different solutions for a particular fix.

I want to perform some change in code, test it and leave it for later to go find a different approach. I repeat these steps a few times. Then, when I have a fix that is the best fit, in my opinion, I can make a PR for code review or discuss it with my team.

So ideally I would like to quickly switch between possible fixes. For this, I have two approaches.

Save a diff file

git diff > fix1.diff

Git will generate a patch file with all the changes made to the repository. I can send this file to someone, open it in its own window to compare with the current state, etc. Very easy for quick verification.

To apply this file:

git apply fix1.diff

This is the simplest workflow for progressively save your work between commits. I have just a file with all of the changes. This is nice and simple, but there are better solutions.

Git Stash

Stashing is saving work for later. There are many great tutorials and documentation on this topic. atlassian git-scm

I found this 2 commands helpful in my case:

git stash push <message>
git stash apply

git stash save will save the changes and clean my working directory, soo to continue working I must apply them back. (git stash pop will also apply changes but they will be deleted from stash).

Now I have a saved point in working “timeline” that I can easily evaluate or revert back to. This can also be done inside VScode(if you use it) with Gitlens plugin(Webstorm also has this functionality)

Micro-tip: personalized comments

I put a comment in this manner:

// @mch <what I think is happening here>

mch > my initials

Within editor, I’ve set up a rule to highlight @mch string. For VScode there is nice plugin: TODO

I’ve customized it with:

"todohighlight.keywords": [
    {
      "text": "TODO",
      "color": "#000000",
      "backgroundColor": "gold",
      "borderRadius": "2px",
    },
    {
      "text": "@mch",
      "color": "#66ffdd",
      "backgroundColor": "#116644",
      "borderRadius": "2px",
    },
  ],

This is helpful to quickly lookup all the places that cought my eye. Ctrl + Shift + F for them with @mch or use TODO plugin lookup.

These 3 tips help me with day to day work. What are your hacks for productive work??


Maciek ☁️

Written by Maciek ☁️ who works in Cracow and has a passion to build useful things.