What’s a full stack developer?

Found here:

Main points:
#layers of the full stack:

##Server, Network, and Hosting Environment.

  1. This involves understanding what can break and why, taking no resource for granted.
  2. Appropriate use of the file system, cloud storage, network resources, and an understanding of data redundancy and availability is necessary.
  3. How does the application scale given the hardware constraints?
  4. What about multi-threading and race conditions? Guess what, you won’t see those on your development machine, but they can and do happen in the real world.
  5. Full stack developers can work side by side with DevOps. The system should provide useful error messages and logging capabilities. DevOps will see the messages before you will, so make them count.
    ##Data Modeling
  6. If the data model is flawed, the business logic and higher layers start to need strange (ugly) code to compensate for corner cases the data model doesn’t cover.
  7. Full stack developers know how to create a reasonably normalized relational model, complete with foreign keys, indexes, views, lookup tables, etc.
  8. Full stack developers are familiar with the concept of non-relational data stores and understand where they shine over relational data stores.
    ##Business Logic
  9. The heart of the value the application provides.
  10. Solid object oriented skills are needed here.
  11. Frameworks might be needed here as well.
    ##API layer / Action Layer / MVC
  12. How the outside world operates against the business logic and data model.
    Frameworks at this level should be used heavily.
  13. Full stack developers have the ability to write clear, consistent, simple to use interfaces. The heights to which some APIs are convoluted repel me.
    ##User Interface
  14. Full stack developers: a) understand how to create a readable layout, or b) acknowledge they need help from artists and graphic designers. Either way, implementing a good visual design is key.
  15. Can include mastery of HTML5 / CSS.
  16. JavaScript is the up and coming language of the future and lots of exciting work is being done in the JavaScript world (node, backbone, knockout…)
    ##User Experience
  17. Full stack developers appreciate that users just want things to work.
  18. A good system doesn’t give its users carpal tunnel syndrome or sore eyes. A full stack developer can step back and look at a process that needs 8 clicks and 3 steps, and get it down to one click.
  19. Full stack developers write useful error messages. If something breaks, be apologetic about it. Sometimes programmers inadvertently write error messages that can make people feel stupid.
    ##Understanding what the customer and the business need.
  20. Now we are blurring into the line of architect, but that is too much of a hands off role.
  21. Full stack developers have a grasp of what is going on in the field when the customer uses the software. They also have a grasp of the business.

###Other Pieces of the Puzzle:

  1. Ability to write quality unit tests. By the way, even JavaScript can have unit tests these days.
  2. Understanding of repeatable automated processes for building the application, testing it, documenting it, and deploying it at scale.
  3. An awareness of security concerns is important, as each layer presents its own possible vulnerabilities.


Article in Uncube Magazin

Having visited the Tallinn Architecture Biennale as well, I confess
I’m astonished by the article of Tarja Nurmi and her smashing judgment.

Calling the six lectures “theoretical or shallow” in the same sentence
is absurd. Mrs. Nurmi apparently did not understand the obvious effort
of the curator team, to not principally copy and paste the numbers
game of so-called “excellent built examples”, but to give a chance to
fundamentally rethink our approach to ideologically biased space
production. Furthermore, I have rarely been at a symposium where
invariably every speaker was thoroughly prepared, interacted with the
other presenters so constructively, and had a more passionated and
profound opinion on the event’s topic. To call this Stringent
Intensiveness shallow is beyond believe.

Considering your cry for “real specialist”, I’d love to hear more
about who that would be. Is it the city architect of a post-socialist
metropole? The engineer that calculates a glass and steel facade for a
concrete slab public building? The investor that finally brings the
millions to commoditize the fouling heritage?

I’m not sure how Mrs. Nurmi could have missed the implications all of
the presentations had in their pursue of social and cultural effects
and implications of architecture and their interpretations:
Huber’s multimedia hybrid and “passive house” museum/public space,
Aureli’s consequences of modern space for the precarious creative
workers, Hungar’s spatial interpretations of social relationships,
Wojciechowski’s resistance to pure market logic and patronizing rule
sets of competitions and Čeferin’s jolting plea for a critical
architecture revised. For me as an urbanist it is beautiful to see how
diverse architects can look at space.
Mrs. Nurmi, not reflecting in your blog entry upon the implications of
those lines of thought on those grounds, in particular here in the
Baltics and in Tallinn – this is the actual shallowness towards your
interested readers.

There is a lot to learn about how to functionally reuse socialist
architecture, but for this I can as well review the efforts made by
various projects installed through the last two decades throughout
Europe. Speaking of which, the renovation and reuse of the TV tower in
Berlin, and correspondingly in Tallinn. Really? Those projects are
done and over with, there’s nothing groundbreaking to see here. I
strongly believe that we don’t have trouble finding creative
architectural methods and ways of reusing and remaking objects
produced in the last 70 years. We need to layout the groundwork to
discuss how we approach them ideologically. And for this process the
symposium provided enough food for thought to leave to the audience.

As of the rest of your review, your reflection on the curator’s
exhibition, and the exhibition space in Linnahall, and the temporary
club/café/bookshop leaves me thoroughly unsatisfied.
In the only critique towards the curator’s exhibition models you
missed the blatantly obvious recursive thought of the Swiss team about
ideology, time and object: the most famous conclusion of modernism,
modified – “All that is solid melts into air” – and so does the
architecture. How can you not see the inversion of all that has been
taking for granted, manifested in Frolov’s/Levtchuk’s hovering
monolith – the reversed ground.
No word of the presentations and dialogues fueled by architects from
all over Europe – the vast network which the “young curators” as you
call them have been able to weave in years of effort; no word about
the contributions of the school’s exhibition in Linnahall – didn’t you
long for practical examples?

All in all, a disappointing review, obviously biased with name
dropping by the author. I for my part can only hope that the next
Tallinn Architecture Biennale will pick up on where the b210 team have
left us here in Tallinn, showing how it certainly is possible to put
Tallinn on the map outside of the rails of the boring IT hype.

Andreas Wagner

The value of ideas in Tallinn

Creative and enthusiastic people are the lifeblood of the smartness and richness of Tallinn. They provide the ideas and initiative for the layer of contemporary culture that will ultimately save  this city from becoming a pure office plantation or medieval  theme park. Acknowledging this, cultural institutions, educational centers, private businesses and the city administration have already put it on their banners to nurture and comfort the development of this fragile branch. In this context it is especially disturbing how the attitude towards this group by the Kultuurikatel reminds more of common exploitation than supportive encouragement. Continue reading “The value of ideas in Tallinn”

Next time in Lasnamäe

Next time in Lasnamäe
by Andreas Wagner

Estonian version

The LASN is an architecture exhibition displaying materialised professional opinions on the future of the built environment of Lasnamäe. Unfortunately, the curator fails to contextualise the results and to put them in perspective as adequate contributions to this complex discussion.

The LASN exhibition is timely placed on the background of the ongoing struggle of Tallinn’s professional elites and administration about how to deal with this part of the modernist legacy and the celebration of Mustamäe’s fiftieth anniversary this year. Lasnamäe is the notorious modernist extension to Tallinn, the idealist’s solution of strains produced by an overcrowded inner city and the continuous influx of people. The models on display visualise burning questions about this district in very different forms. The teams involved point towards different spatial questions, for example, of boundaries (Salto), administration and form (Järving / Pihlak), resource management and re-/upcycling (Kavakava), perspective and shared space (b210), co-creation (Alver). They offer thought-provoking impulses to the audience.

Lasnamäe is reduced to a screen for all kinds of projections and judgements, and as the lack of precision in the design and catalogue of the exhibition show, this attitude is not likely to change very soon. One of the reasons why modernist planning has been judged as a failure has been its elitist planning paradigm. I wonder how we can hope to overcome this fault, if we do not discuss the matters of Lasnamäe in the necessary scope and seriousness on the ground and with the actual subject.

I got the feeling that the curator creates a rather exclusive “ivory tower” image of the architect’s profession, that does not overlap with other professions, such as historians, sociologists, physicists, economists, political or environmental scientists. But are not architects and planners doing the best job when they acknowledge and incorporate opinions of experts from other fields – thereby communicating and promoting their own?

Tallinn is by far not the only place where districts like Lasnamäe, Õismäe and Mustamäe have to be reinterpreted and reinvented due to faulty design and changes in history. If you look not as far west as the curator, but just to the estates in central European cities, there are many feasible examples of adjusting buildings and districts under very restrictive financial and social conditions.

Maybe one of the answers to the question of why architects have not been involved in Lasnamäe’s development during the last two decades might be the lack of a broader discussion and dialogue. A representative body such as the Union of Architects is expected to play a strong role by moderating constructive criticism of the mission and responsibility of architects in our society. I had the impression that during this particular event this role was forfeited.

Following that thought, should it not be the responsibility of the curator to orchestrate the contributed models and ideas not only in context to each other, but in the wider reality of the city? Is it not in the best interest of the Union of Architects to mediate the work and interest of its members to a wider audience, including other professions?

The first impression I got during the vernissage did not follow these principles. We are talking about Lasnamäe, why are we then in the city center? Why is the second language of the catalogue English, and not Russian? Why is the exhibition design so irresponsible and sloppy (i.e. the unapproachable position of model captions, uncommented chops of statistical data, errors in the catalogue)? These questions are in stark contrast to the catalogues conclusion: “All the changes have to be co-produced with the local populace. The inhabitants of Lasnamäe have to be able to say – ‘I made this!’”

The impression that I carried home did stir up my thoughts, but certainly not on the subject of Lasnamäe. The curator speaks of opinions, but fails to sketch out a particular problem. He is quick with judgements such as “The houses are there, the urban environment is not.” Where is the argumentation for that? Are annual statistics enough to draw up such a universal conclusion? What is the character of the desirable urban environment that the curator is imagining in contrast to the one certainly existing in Lasnamäe? Should a new generation of architects find solutions to the problems produced by their professional predecessors in the very same manner?

Some models did raise questions beyond the scope of plain structural architecture. Lasnamäe, like any other urban district in Tallinn, is defined through its mixed population, the quality and quantity of its built structure and the image and meaning applied to it from the outside. And like all its neighbouring districts, it is continuously changing. It is in the interest of professionals involved in city development and planning, the political administration and the people living there, that this discussion is being held with the seriousness and on the scope that it deserves. Thus the display of opinions of architects must reflect dedication by placing itself inside the particular surrounding it discusses. Furthermore, the involvement of the local population and expertise is a fundamental precondition. Finally, accumulating constructive criticism on the presented opinions and incorporating it into a continuous feedback loop should be the ultimate goal of such a dialogue, rather than the climax of a single event.

I believe that realistic visions for Lasnamäe can only be constructed with the authentic and professional dedication of the people involved. This includes the necessary respect of past efforts, continuous adjustment to the present obstacles, and an attitude that includes Lasnamäe in the urban discourses of Tallinn in as many levels as possible. To say it with the words of one guest of the vernissage: “Next time you should come to Lasnamäe, maybe your ideas will then be even better.”

Publishing Master’s thesis

I’ve decided to publish my thesis without any further addition or refinement. I think it should stand as a conditional work with all its insights and flaws. Comments welcome…

Download here or read on Issuu

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Back in Tallinn, Jelly everyone

Since yesterday, I am back in Tallinn to prepare the first Jellies for Tööklubi Tallinn.
Checking out the spaces was the first point on the list. I’ve had a very enlightening meeting with, Maarin Ektermann (Mürk) from März Project room, discussing coworking and its possible interpretation in the context of Tallinn. Later that day I joined a discussion about a possible hub founding by the organizers of a local hacker & maker space group. Coworking and hub’ing as concepts seem perfectly known to the people, so that will make it more easy to dock on to some enthusiasts.

First visit to the kultuuri katel

Today, I had an exclusive chance to talk to Herkko Labi, urban activist and organizer of projects like Telliskivi in Tallinn. At the moment he is employed by the Kultuuri Katel to oversee the conceptual and physical changes planned for the building site, a derelict power plant close to the sea side of Tallinn. This building stands for the flair that the whole area creates in my mind – a place of transition.

Continue reading “First visit to the kultuuri katel”