Choosing the Right Programming Font

, updated

Programmers and other IT professionals often customize their desktops to increase productivity. However, fonts often remains overlooked. Since you spend around 8-10 hours per day staring at a screen, it is an important choice. The right font increases legibility. That in turn helps battling eye fatigue and lowers the risk of typos (which can lead to nasty bugs). This article compares some of the most popular programming fonts.

Criteria for choosing a font

First of all, a programming font should be monospace. I don’t think this needs much explanation. The main reason is for structures in code to be aligned.

As mentioned above, the font should also be legible. Especially characters that are easily confused, such as lowercase l and uppercase I. To compare the various fonts, I am using a modified programming font test pattern form Martinus. It looks like this:

o0O s5S z2Z qg9 !|l1Iij {([|])} .,;: ``''""
a@#* vVuUwW <>;^°=-~ öÖüÜäÄßµ \/\/ -- == __
the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG
0123456789 &-+@ for (int i=0; i<=j; ++i) {}

Last, but not least, you should consider the license. As more people use some mix of Linux, Windows and MacOS to do their work, I have picked only open-source fonts. You can easily get those on any OS. This disqualifies some popular choices, such as Consolas and Menlo.

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Elasticsearch Index Lifecycle Management for Fluentd

External tools, such as Curator, used to be a necessity for managing Elasticsearch indexes. This has changed with the introduction of Index Lifecycle Management in (ILM) Elasticsearch 6.6. It has all but eliminated the need for other tools. While has been developed primarily with Logstash in mind, you can also take advantage of it when using Fluentd. It works with both data streams and regular indexes. Becase most people are probably familiar with the latter, this post will explain how to setup ILM for your Fluentd indexes.

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Control Whitespace in Ansible Templates

Ansible uses the powerful Jinja templating engine. However, the way it handles whitespace in templates is not ideal. Specifically, the fact that it preserves leading whitespace around Jinja blocks. So, you can either not indent Jinja syntax, making the templates hard to comprehend, or accept broken indentation in the resulting file (not an option with whitespace-sensitive formats such as yaml).

Luckily, there is a third option. Jinja has two configuration options regarding whitespace:

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Import Scaleway Infrastructure to Terraform

Terraform is one of the leading applications to manage your infrastructure as code. It defines your server instances and accompanying services using a simple declarative language. Moreover, the infrastructure state is kept in a separate file. So, whenever you make a change in your configuration, Terraform compares it to the current state and only performs necessary changes.

Terraform has plugins for all the major IaaS providers, so you should be covered there. However, you are probably not starting from a scratch, but already have some infrastructure running. Personally, I use Scaleway as my cloud provider, so I will show you how to import their resources to Terraform. I will demonstrate the process on a single server instance.

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Deploy Docker Container from Gitlab CI

Containers are all the rage nowadays and for a good reason. They help in unifying development and production environments. They also provide application encapsulation and isolation, among other things. But to get the most out of them, you should build and deploy them automatically. This post will show you how to do it using Gitlab CI and docker-compose.

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Run Nikola Blog in Docker

A lot of you might have a blog or a personal website created by static generator. Thanks to their simple requirements (just a webserver, really), they are an ideal starting point for your dockerization journey. In this post, I will explain how to run a Nikola website in a container. Nikola powers this website and is my static generator of choice. But the steps should be fairly similar for other generators out there.

Dockerfile

The dockerfile I am using looks like this:

FROM python:latest AS builder

# Copy the whole repository into Docker container
COPY . . 

# Build the blog
RUN pip install nikola \
    && run nikola build


FROM nginx:alpine

# Copy output to the default nginx directory
COPY --from=builder output /usr/share/nginx/html

# Copy nginx host configuration
COPY nginx/default.conf /etc/nginx/conf.d/

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Modify All Items in Ansible List

Ansible lets you easily interpolate list items within values (like interpolated_{{ item }}_value). However, sometimes you need a more powerful transformation. This is where the map filter comes to rescue again. You can use it to perform regular expression replace on each item in a list. As you can see, the syntax is relatively simple:

map('regex_replace', REGEX_PATTERN, OUTPUT)

For a concrete example, let us say you want to extract network mask from a list of IP addresses (192.168.0.100/24 for example). Assuming this list is stored in the ip_addresses variable, the regex replace would look like this:

{{ ip_addresses | map('regex_replace', '.*/([0-9]{1,2})', '\\1') | list }}

Of course, you can easily use it as a part of longer jinja2 pipelines. If you also want to learn how to loop over dictionary attribute, or see other Ansible tips, take a look here.

Loop Over Dictionary Attribute in Ansible

Working with variables can sometimes get tricky in Ansible. Say, you have a dictionary where you want loop over a certain attribute, not all values. For example, when your variables are declared like this:

interfaces:
  eth0:
    ip: 10.0.0.10
    mask: 16
  eth1:
    ip: 192.168.1.100
    mask: 24

How do you just loop over all the IP addresses? This is where the map filter comes in:

vars:
  ip_addresses: "{{ interfaces.values() | map(attribute='container') | list }}"

The snippet takes all values from the interfaces dictionary (eth0, eth1) and then extracts the ip attribute from them. Finally, it casts the result into list.

Ansible filters are a very powerful tool, so I would recommend you take some time to read it thoroughly. If you are looking for more Ansible tips, such as how to make a playbook distribution agnostic or setup your laptop with Ansible, look here.

One-liner to Download Latest PHPMyAdmin

Even though the PHPMyAdmin’s heyday is long gone by, it still remains quite popular. However, unless you are running it as a Docker container or similar, it is difficult to maintain updated. The reason being, that the creators do not offer any direct link to get the latest version. And the version in system repositories is usually few releases behind.

Luckily, their website design has remained fairly stale, so you can scrape the download link from there. The bash one-liner below (split into three lines for readability :)) will achieve just that:

curl https://www.phpmyadmin.net/files/ 2>/dev/null \
  | grep -oP '(?<=href=")https://files.phpmyadmin.net/phpMyAdmin[^"]*(?=")' \
  | head -n 1

It uses the nifty look-ahead feature ((?<=)) of the Perl-like expression matching. But that is specific to GNU Grep, so you might need to install it, if you are on BSD or MacOS.

Use Caddy Reverse Proxy for Kibana

Nginx is probably the most widely used reverse proxy software out there. But when it comes to Docker, I have started to favor Caddy over it. Caddy is a lightweight web server written in Go. Among its advantages are extremely simple configuration and support for automatic Let’s Encrypt certificates. Certainly the automatic HTTPS simplifies any Docker setup. While it is not yet included in repositories and therefore lacks automatic updates, Docker nullifies this drawback. So, I will show you how to setup Caddy reverse proxy for Kibana.

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