From: Dawid, Sidnet | To: jQuery + Tczew Animal Shelter

In their everyday work, our developers work from various locations. But it is Dawid’s home town that is the longest distance away from our office in Warsaw. Dawid Jancen, a resident of Tczew, has been involved in programming frontend and single-page applications (SPA) for nearly 5 years.

When asked to choose the open-source and charitable projects that we will support this month, he indicated the ones that have already received our donations several times per his request. As such, Dawid chose to support the creators of the jQuery library for the 3rd time, and the inhabitants of the Tczew animal shelter for the 4th time.

jQuery

jQuery is a JavaScript library which is very helpful in building the frontend of web applications. It is open-source software, available under the MIT licence, which is currently being developed by the JS Foundation. Of the 10 million most popular websites, 73% utilise this library, including Wikipedia, Twitter and LinkedIn. As for us, we have used jQuery in many projects, notably in the sales and service management system developed for UK2.

What does the jQuery library provide us with?

  • Plug-ins. A plethora of free add-ons to use in interfaces, forms or AJAX mechanisms.
  • Animations. Ready-to-implement effects that make the user interface more attractive. This is the primary reason why the jQuery library is so popular with web designers.
  • Less coding. In accordance with the slogan: “write less, do more”, jQuery can do a lot with just short lines of code.
  • Cross-browser compatibility. The library works in all popular web browsers. Adapting the code to each one of them individually is not required.

“jQuery was the first library that I learned to use when I first started my adventure with JavaScript. It has been around for 13 years and, in that time, a very active community has formed around it. This makes it easy to find solutions even in the case of the most unusual problems” – said Dawid.

Tczew animal shelter

It is a dog and cat shelter that has been run by OTOZ Animals since 2007. Its activities include organising animal adoptions, educating people and protecting its inhabitants. In June, the shelter opened a brand new space, specifically dedicated to old dogs.

“Several of my friends were involved in the shelter’s activities. That is why I know for a fact that the Tczew animal shelter constantly needs donations to properly take care of the animals” – Dawid explained.

However, the activities of The Polish National Society for the Protection of Animals – OTOZ Animals – include much more than taking care of stray animals. The Society also conducts thousands of interventions every year and organises educational meetings at schools, as well as annual nationwide campaigns that encourage people to adopt animals. In addition, it supports protest actions against animal abuse.

15 years of Sidnet: team values and anniversary celebration photos

From small jobs on RentACoder.com for $15 to 15 years in business. From freelancing to a full-blown business. Through years of experience, ups and downs, achievements and happy coincidences.

We have just celebrated the 15th anniversary. Our thoughts? People and projects changed over the years, but a few basic principles have remained engraved in the very core of Sidnet.

1. Running a business is a team endeavor

Maximum productivity with minimum procedures. Over the years, we have learned and tried many methods and techniques of work, but never took any of them as gospel that we would follow blindly.

With 20+ people in the team, we keep our hierarchy flat, allowing everyone to have real impact on how we organize our work, how we communicate, and what tools we use. One person’s voice can make a change that leads to improving the company as a whole.

2. Communication over co-location

Our programmers work from Warsaw, Lublin, Tczew, Rzeszów, Toruń. All the time we stay connected, even though almost all of our work is done remotely. We manage projects in an effective manner thanks to collaboration and communication tools. In real life, we meet at company presentations, when visiting our clients, and on weekly board game sessions.

We stay honest, both when communicating among ourselves, as well as with our clients. We are upfront about risks and are not afraid of admitting to a failure. We make sure to keep it easy to track the progress of our work – through daily stand-ups, reports, and code repositories.

3. Giving back to open source

We put our trust in open source software before it was cool, using it for both our own needs and to build solutions for our clients. We often tweak and modify existing software to better suit our needs. We also make our code available on GitHub for others to use and contribute to.

Every month, we express our gratitude to the open source community by donating to projects, especially those with no commercial backing. Since 2012, we made 90 donations to numerous projects, including Redmine, Matrix, Laravel, Django czy Jenkins, to name just a few.

4. Helping those in need

There is more to life than technology, and with that in mind through the past 7 years we have made 88 donations to foundations, hospices, animal shelters, and individuals in need.

This willingness to help others has also lead to long-term relationships with some of the recipients of our donations. As a web development partner of the “little brothers of the Poor” Association, we take care of their website and build landing pages for their numerous initiatives. The Sarcoma Association has also entrusted us with their website, as well as the registration site for their annual running event Onkobieg.


How we celebrated the anniversary? There were presentations, bowling, billiards, slot machines, food, drinks, and conversations filled with laughter lasting way into the night.

Have a look at a few more photos from our celebratory dinner:

From: Marcin, Sidnet | To: Mobile Detect + Kuba Ułanowicz (Foundation for Children beneficiary)

There is nothing like supporting the development of a smartphone-related tool on World Mobile-Free Day! Yet, there is nothing that we can do about it this time as the open source and non-profit projects that will receive our support were chosen by our web and mobile developer, Marcin Tabaka – also known as Tabs.

Mobile Detect

Mobile Detect has been in development since 2009. It is a tool that detects the types of devices on which users browse a website. It is fully server-based and as such, the content recipient does not experience any drawbacks related to additional data transfer.

Mobile Detect can recognise the following characteristics of a device:

  • type: computer, tablet, mobile phone,
  • name and version of the operating system,
  • name and version of the web browser.

As a result, the tool facilitates the process of optimising a website for devices such as tablets and smartphones.

“The developers of Mobile Detect face a truly daunting task, given the fact that dozens of new mobile devices appear on the market each month. Since they maintain such a useful tool that we use in many projects, including the Kujawski Fooder website, I feel like they deserve our support” – said Tabs.

Kuba Ułanowicz (Foundation for Children beneficiary)

Kuba is a beneficiary of the Foundation for Children “Help on Time” who suffers from autism. Kuba requires pharmacotherapy and daily specialised exercises – speech therapy, psychological therapy, as well as kinesiotherapy and sensory integration. Apart from difficulties with socialising, the boy also suffers from a chronic motor tic disorder, kidney problems and serious haematological issues, which indicate that he may also be suffering from the von Willebrand disease.

“This is the third time that I have recommended Kuba as a person in need of help as part of the Sidnet donation action. His aunt is a friend of mine. Today, the boy is almost 11 years old and is currently undergoing a process of diagnosis concerning his motor tics, which may actually be symptoms of Tourette syndrome or PANDAS syndrome” – said our programmer.

The Foundation for Children “Help on Time” provides assistance to more than 35 thousand children, primarily young patients who suffer from cerebral palsy, heart defects, Down syndrome, autism, epilepsy, retinopathy, cancer, and muscular dystrophy. Established in 1998, the Foundation is actively working on implementing a national aid program called “Help on Time”, which was initiated by a renowned Polish heart surgeon, professor Zbigniew Religa.

WarsawJS Meetup #59 from the perspective of Sidnet

Live coding, magic tricks you can do with your IDE, a recap of clean coding practices, and clearing up the confusion between authentication and authorization. Here’s a subjective review of Wednesday’s WarsawJS Meetup.

„Intro to Authentication and Authorization with JWT and PassportJS”

Like the title suggests, this talk was a good introduction to the topic of authentication and authorization. It helped in understanding the difference between these two terms, which are often confused – especially by beginners.

Artur Klajnerok demonstrated and explained an example of “Basic Auth” in a front-end Single-Page Application, powered by a node.js backend built upon the Express framework. To authenticate users, he made use of the PassportJS library.

The talk concluded with a simple example illustrating the use of JSON Web Token (JWT). Having years of experience dealing with authorization and authentication, I wished this was the beginning of the talk rather than the end 😉

„The Importance of Clean Code”

Tetiana Platonova reminded the attendees what constitutes clean code – based on the guidelines presented in the book “Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship”.

In the limited time of the talk, Tetiana managed to cover the following of Uncle Bob’s (Robert Martin’s) concepts:

  • Variable and method naming
    Key point: Use descriptive names with verbs for methods and nouns for classes.
  • Code structure
    Key point: Keep your structure well-organized, avoid too many (more than two) levels of indentation, Don’t Repeat Yourself by factoring out common code into separate methods.
  • Commenting
    Key point: Avoid commenting what your code is doing – it should be readable enough to communicate that on its own.

Clean code is a huge topic and it’s no surprise that, in a short time, Tetiana was only able to present the basics.

This talk could be an eye-opener for junior developers, while for more experienced programmers like myself it was a good recap of the ideas in the book. It doesn’t hurt to revisit Uncle Bob’s guidelines every now and then, either in his book or by watching the videos available online.

„Use your IDE like the pros”

One of rare examples of live coding that could not fail 😉

In addition to a number of rather well-known tricks, Wojciech Przechodzeń shared several ideas of unconventional usage of the multiple cursors feature. I was surprised to see it used to extract e-mail addresses from a large JSON file. I knew my IDE supported multiple cursors, but would not think you could do something like that.

Thanks for this demonstration, well done!


Confusing concepts of authentication and authorization, classic concepts of clean coding, and advanced usage of your IDE. This meetup had some good content for all JavaScript enthusiasts, no matter the skill level.

Latest project: refreshed online registration for the running event

For the past few years, with each edition of the Onkobieg (“Oncorun”) charity run, we updated the official website of the event. This year our challenge was to rebuild the registration process and make it more user-friendly, as well as more accessible for people with disabilities. And since the event is run by a non-profit organization, we had to accomplish this on tight budget constraints.

Now that the new registration site for the 12th edition of Oncorun is live, we are happy to share a few of the ideas that we put into action to improve usability and accessibility.

Refreshed home page of Onkobieg (“Oncorun”).

Usability enhancements:

  • Progress indicator
    In the previous version of the registration interface, there was no clear overview of the required steps displayed to the user. Including a progress tracker gives the user an idea of what to expect on the way to the starting kit.
  • More readable form hints
    Form prompts have been reworded to be more specific – for instance, “Fill in this field” has been replaced with “Enter your e-mail”. The Call To Action buttons also got new labels to better communicate their purpose – e.g., “Print your registration card” was changed to “Download your printable registration card”.
  • Form design tweaks
    Some unnecessary field decorations have been removed, and a clear indication of required and optional information has been added. Repeating the password is no longer needed.
  • Approachable terms and conditions
    Large portions of legal information have been replaced with shorter introductions, expandable with a “Read more” option. All terms can now be accepted with a single “Check all” option.
  • Suggested donation
    Registration for Oncorun is free, but participants are encouraged to make a donation. Highlighting one donation amount as the suggested one makes it easier for the user to take action.

Accessibility improvements:

  • Better readability
    Blocks of text have been made narrower, with greater spacing between lines and paragraphs. We also abandoned justified style in favor of left-aligned text.
  • High-contrast version
    We added a high-contrast view mode based on black and yellow.

“A breath of inspiration and fresh ideas. Thanks a lot for a job well done!”

Szymon Bubiłek
Member of the Board
Sarcoma Association (Stowarzyszenie Sarcoma)

Oncorun – Together for Health! (Onkobieg – Razem po zdrowie!) is the oldest oncology-themed charity running event in Poland, organized since 2008 by the Sarcoma Association (Stowarzyszenie Sarcoma). Its aim is to collect donations for persons suffering from oncological diseases and support them in their fight for recovery and a better life.

12th edition of Oncorun will take place on 8th of September 2019 in Warsaw.

Register now: https://onkobieg.pl/rejestracja-uzytkownika [in Polish]

From: Sebastian, Sidnet | To: Redmine + Korabiewice Animal Shelter

As part of dog-assisted therapy day in Poland, we wish to repay our four-legged friends for their beneficial impact on our lives. As with every other month, we also show our support for an open source project chosen by our staff. This time around the project was selected by our colleague – Sebastian Stasiak. Sebastian works at our office in Rawa Mazowiecka, and we jokingly refer to him as our “memeager” due to his undying love for memes.

Redmine

Redmine is a flexible, open source project management system. Its list of users includes US and Japanese government agencies, as well as the developers of the Ruby programming language (which actually is the language used to write the Redmine application in the first place). We have been using Redmine for internal and customer projects for 9 years.

Some of Redmine’s notable features include:

  • creating a hierarchy of projects and tasks,
  • assigning roles and privileges in a flexible manner,
  • integration with source code repositories,
  • monitoring of working time,
  • ability to add new, specific functions.

“Redmine itself already has an impressive array of functions. However, its greatest asset is undoubtedly the possibility of further expansion. At Sidnet, our team uses features like additional plugins that allow us to run projects in accordance with the Agile philosophy. We have built some of these extensions by ourselves from scratch”, said Sebastian.

Korabiewice Animal Shelter

This is a shelter for animals of all species, and has been operating as part of the Viva! Foundation since 2012. Currently, the shelter is home to several hundred different animals – not only dogs and cats but also cows, goats and even foxes. Apart from donations, the shelter is financed solely by the Foundation. Volunteers working at the shelter help in feeding and healing the animals. They also build safe and comfortable boxes, houses, kennels and paddocks for them. In addition, the volunteers also assist in physical and virtual adoptions.

“I am well-acquainted with this shelter and I know that they require constant support. I used to work there as a volunteer and walk the dogs. One of them was particularly memorable. He weighed around 40 kilograms and would always act up on the way from his enclosure to the paddock, but immediately turned into a mild and playful puppy the moment he passed through the shelter’s gate. Later on, he found a new home at the seaside”, Sebastian recalled.

WarsawJS Meetup #58 from the perspective of Sidnet

In the last few months, I have been regularly attending the WarsawJS meetups for professionals and enthusiasts of JavaScript. Today I’d like to share my brief (personal and subjective) review of yesterday’s talks.

“Bootcamps from the perspective of a trainer and a developer”

Michał Michalczuk took on the topic of bootcamps and their effectiveness based on statistics. I appreciated that he had a critical view on the whole idea, even though he himself is a bootcamp organizer.

Michał raised a few valid points: that not everyone is good material to become a programmer, that not all bootcamps in Poland are created equal, and that bootcamps should not be seen as a substitute for a degree in computer science. His opinion was that bootcamps are valuable as means of quick introduction to the field and just the first step of many to follow. I am in complete agreement.

„Building high performance apps with Titanium”

Rene Pot is a representative of Appcelerator, a company based in the US, who for the past decade have been developing the Titanium app framework. He named several advantages of the framework, comparing it with more popular solutions with a similar purpose, like React Native and Flutter. There was a live coding demo, showcasing how easy it is to build mobile apps on Titanium.

What piqued my curiosity was what business model allowed the company to make a profit on a fully open-sourced product. It turned out what helps them keep their lights on are enterprise clients. Still, the company remains committed to the spirit of open source and makes all solutions available to the general public on GitHub.

I found this presentation a bit exotic, because I don’t know of any applications (whether big or small) built with this framework. Rene himself admitted that he hasn’t found any Titanium-based applications on the Polish market.

„Call me irresponsible if I ever crash on null or undefined in JavaScript or TypeScript”

A short but packed talk from Rafał Pocztarski on the subject of good coding practices to avoid common pitfalls — application errors and crashes.

What every JavaScript developer should keep in mind:

  • Validate API responses. If we blindly assume the API would always return data in the proper format, we are taking a risk. Developers should always check and validate the data.
  • Expect the unexpected. Always consider the edge cases.
  • Eliminate bugs as early as possible. Common errors such as type error or null pointer exception can be avoided with the help of solutions like TypeScript, TSLint, Flow, or TravisCI.

From: Wojtek, Sidnet | To: Gentoo Linux + Marcin Sztrubel (Avalon Foundation beneficiary)

Is “geek” the first thing on your mind after hearing the word “programmer”? Well… in many cases, you probably would not be wrong to think that way. It would appear that in our team, the role of the most highly devoted technological zealot is played by Wojtek Siewierski, also known as Vifon. It is solely because of him that our company project management system, Redmine, is now known as Nerdmine. Thanks to his special toolbox, Vifon is always prepared to handle any and all technological emergencies and his PC with heavily customised settings would most likely prove practically unusable to anyone besides him, and him alone.

Which open source and non-profit projects will we support in May thanks to Wojtek’s choices?

Gentoo Linux

Gentoo is one of the most flexible Linux distributions. It is a blast for experienced and demanding users who like to constantly tinker with their operating systems and adjust every single detail to their personal preferences. Thanks to the specific nature of Gentoo (which is based on source code instead of binary packages), many functions can be automated. As such, Wojtek does not have to manually patch and modify the software provided to him by the system. This tedious and time-consuming process is now a thing of the past.

The core element of Gentoo is its package manager called Portage. It allows the user to customise practically any aspect of the programs and libraries that they wish to build, in a controlled and efficient manner. For example:
“In the case of some programs, it is impossible for the user to modify certain functions, e.g. shortcut keys. But with Gentoo, I build the source code on my own computer. As such, all it takes is for me to introduce a simple change in the code in order to be able to modify the shortcut keys even before installing the program itself”, said our programmer.

Marcin Sztrubel

Marcin is a beneficiary of the Avalon Foundation, which helps him collect funds to fight his progressing muscle atrophy. Without access to special rehabilitation therapy and expensive orthopaedic equipment, Marcin would never be able to enjoy life on his own. This is the second time that Vifon has asked us to donate money to Marcin.

“Marcin is a friend of my mother. He requires regular and costly rehabilitation. He has been using a wheelchair for quite a long time now, but he never gives up and is still valiantly fighting against his disease”, Wojtek said.

The Avalon Foundation is run by a disabled person and its goal is to help other disabled and chronically ill people in need. Since 2006, the Foundation has been supporting such persons by providing them with rehabilitation services and enabling them to be more independent, as well as removing barriers between them and the rest of society.

From: Leszek, Sidnet | To: Mozilla + A Piece of Heaven Foundation

In the Sidnet team, several key factions exist: macOS supporters, Linux lovers and Windows fans – and all of them are equally ready to fight for the honour of their beloved operating system. One of the representatives of the latter camp is Leszek Kalota, who chose projects to support this month. Even the biggest advocate of Windows, used to working with proprietary applications, still appreciates the value of open source software. Check who will receive our financial support in April thanks to Leszek.

Mozilla

The creator of the web browser, Firefox, which Leszek uses in his everyday work. Mozilla puts a lot of emphasis on the fight against rampant disinformation plaguing the Internet. In addition, it promotes digital skills and strives to maintain a high level of online discussions.Currently, Mozilla is developing the first browser specifically designed for software developers. Firefox Developer Edition is currently in the testing phase and it includes functions like:

  • a CSS Grid, which allows the user to visualize the grid, display associated area names or preview transformations,
  • a graphics editor, thanks to which the user is able to fine-tune animations, alignment and padding,
  • a Web Audio editor, which allows the user to work with the Web Audio API.

“The
tools created by Mozilla are designed for the benefit of Internet
users, not to make a profit. This is why they have my respect and why
I have been using their products, that is, the Firefox browser and
the Thunderbird e-mail program, for over 10 years”
– said our
programmer.

A Piece of Heaven (Kawałek nieba)

The Children and Ill People Help Foundation “A Piece of Heaven” assists in the treatment of malnourished, poor and traumatised children and provides them with the necessary support. When the patients are unable to find appropriate treatment options within Poland, the volunteers of the Foundation try to find clinics abroad that may be able to help. So far, the Foundation has changed the lives of thousands of people, including children with brain tumours, retinoblastoma, neuroblastoma or heart defects.

“Due to the chaos of everyday affairs, it is often quite easy to forget that for people who are seriously ill, things like medicine, surgery, rehabilitation or medical equipment may, in fact, be a metaphorical piece of heaven. I sincerely hope that thanks to our support, the sky will be crystal clear for someone, if only for a single day” – said Leszek.

From: Tadzik, Sidnet | To: Matrix + SOS Children’s Villages

We have our own way of celebrating the Ides of March. As such, on the day of this mid-March feast instead of honouring the god of war, we chose to celebrate our own private heroes. After all, we do that every month. This time, we will support open source projects and charities selected by Tadeusz Sośnierz, an experienced Perl programmer.

Matrix

Matrix is an open standard used in online communication. One of the apps based on this standard is Riot, through which our team can maintain contact, despite being largely scattered around. Unlike popular messenger apps, Matrix does not try to force people to use its own, specific network. Instead, it aims to connect already existing communication networks with one another. Thanks to this solution, it will not be necessary for us to install numerous apps and create several accounts to stay in touch with our friends.

It is a perfect choice for people who want to break out of “the matrix”, that is, the part of the Internet which is governed by big tech corporations and not the users themselves. “The Internet is constantly centralising. It is becoming increasingly focused around major global companies that consider Internet users to be products, not customers. Matrix is one of the projects that bring back a bit of the Internet’s former splendour” – says our programmer.

“In addition to that, Matrix also places great emphasis on the resistance of the network to potential attacks as well as technical failures. Because of its decentralised nature, even if the server is disconnected the users will still be able to continue their conversation thanks to their own servers. This is particularly important today, given that certain governments are cracking down on selected means of online communication in order to prevent their citizens from using them” – says Tadzik.

SOS Wioski Dziecięce (SOS Children’s Villages)

The association helps abandoned and orphaned children, as well as those coming from dysfunctional families. It operates in Poland and Cameroon. The association focuses on creating family orphanages where children are brought up by foster parents. It is part of the SOS Children’s Villages International organisation which has been operating for over 65 years and is currently present in 135 countries worldwide.

“Not everyone has been given a chance to grow up in the warm and loving environment of their family home. Thanks to the Association, children of parents who are unable to take care of them may instead be taken care of by SOS Foster Families. This provides them with the sense of security and acceptance which are necessary for them to prepare for an independent, adult life. SOS Children’s Villages aims to help the children forget about their traumatic past and grow up to be healthy and responsible adults that will not hesitate to help others in need” – says Tadzik.