Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Architecture Consultant specializing in open source frameworks.

10+ YEARS


Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

The Last Day of School

Today marks the last day of the school year for Abbie and Jack. I wrote about their first day of school back in August. It's Jack's last day in 4th grade and Abbie's last day in 6th grade. I snapped a picture to capture the memory as they were rushing off this morning.

The Last Day of School 2015

For summer activities, Abbie is still horseback riding every week. Jack is playing flag football and his team has been dominating. Both just joined a swim team. They competed in their first swim meet last weekend and did great. This is the first summer we didn't sign them up for a bunch of summer camps. We figured their daily 8am swim practice would be enough. I'd love to do a summer Devoxx4Kids class, but I'm having some difficulty finding volunteer instructors.

For summer vacations, we've only planned one: a 4-day road trip through Wyoming, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park. From there, we'll head to my parent's house for a fun-filled 4th of July. Our current plan is to drive the Syncro and The Bus. Yeah, it's a long shot that The Bus will be done after all these years, but one can dream, right? ;)

Posted in General at Jun 02 2015, 08:31:31 AM MDT Add a Comment

Syncro Solstice 2015

Our Syncro has been running in tip-top shape ever since we got a new Subaru H6 engine last August. Since then, we've driven it 9000 miles, most of them on trips during the ski season. To begin the camping season this year, we traveled to Moab, Utah for the annual Syncro Solstice gathering. We attended our first Syncro Solstice last year and it's been on our calendar ever since. This year, Trish and Abbie opted out, so it was a boys trip for Jack and I.

Locked and Loaded My co-pilot and best son

We left Denver on the Thursday morning before Mother's Day weekend. We made it all the way to Grand Junction (about 4 hours) before we stopped for gas. That's where our adventures began.

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Posted in General at May 21 2015, 09:35:38 AM MDT 2 Comments

Farewell to the 2014-2015 Ski Season

My family and I had a terrific ski season this year. Last year was an epic year with 11 resorts and a heli-skiing trip to British Columbia. This year, we skied Winter Park/Mary Jane, Steamboat, Copper, Crested Butte and Telluride. I logged 42 days of skiing, my most ever.

My season started on November 19th at Winter Park. Trish and I skied it again together a few days later. Opening Day at Mary Jane on November 28th was beautiful.

Over Christmas and New Years, we stayed at our Ski Shack near Winter Park and got a number of days in. My buddy Joe Lamont and I skied together on the coldest day, when it was -6°F at the base of Mary Jane. I was pumped when got to ski with Mattias Karlsson and his family just after New Years.

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Posted in General at May 12 2015, 08:19:03 AM MDT Add a Comment

The Bus Arrives at Sewfine

11 years ago yesterday, I bought a '66 21-Window VW Bus using "buy it now" on eBay. 11 years later, it was delivered to Sewfine Interior Products to get the interior installed. When I originally spoke with them last year, they estimated it'd only take two weeks to finish. After seeing how much work needed to be done, they changed that estimate to 4-8 weeks.

After Sewfine, it still needs another week at the body shop to clean it up and install the rear deck lid. After that, I'll probably drive it for a few weeks before taking it to the stereo shop for the sound system.

While finalizing my interior order yesterday, I got to start it for the first time. It sounded like a muscle car. So fricken' sweet! :)

In the first photo below, you'll notice there's two yellow busses. Sewfine had a '62 (the far one) they were just finishing up. It was awesome to see the two together. Sewfine published a whole bunch of pictures of the '62 on Facebook.

Twins! Safari Windows

The paint looks soooo good! I like its smile

My favorite bus... The '62 is a pale yellow in comparison

Air Ride Suspension Power Steering wheel might need to be replaced

If you'd like to learn more about the VW Bus and the Deluxe Samba, see 21 Window & 23 Window Volkswagen Buses.

Posted in The Bus at Apr 11 2015, 11:09:24 AM MDT 2 Comments

Getting Hip with JHipster at Denver's Java User Group

Last night, I had the pleasure of speaking at Denver's Java User Group Meetup about JHipster. I've been a big fan of JHipster ever since I started using it last fall. I developed a quick prototype for a client and wrote about solving some issues I had with it on OS X. I like the project because it encapsulates the primary open source tools I've been using for the last couple of years: Spring Boot, AngularJS and Bootstrap. I also wrote about its 2.0 release on InfoQ in January.

My Hipster Getup To add some humor to my talk, I showed up as a well-dressed Java Developer. Like a mature gentleman might do, I started the evening with a glass of scotch (Glenlivet 12). Throughout the talk I became more hip and adjusted my attire, and beverage, accordingly. As you might expect, my demos had failures. The initial project creation stalled during Bower's download all JavaScript dependencies. Luckily, I had a backup and was able to proceed. Towards the end, when I tried to deploy to Heroku, I was presented with a lovely message that "Heroku toolbelt updating, please try again later". I guess auto-updating has its downsides.

After finishing the demo, I cracked open a cold PBR to ease my frustration.

I did two live coding sessions during this presentation; standing on the shoulders of giants to do so. I modeled Josh Long's Getting Started with Spring Boot to create a quick introduction to Spring Boot. IntelliJ IDEA 14.1 has a nice way to create Spring Boot projects, so that came in handy. For the JHipster portion, I created a blogging app and used relationships and business logic similar to what Julien Dubois did in his JHipster for Spring Boot Webinar. Watching Josh and Julien's demos will give you a similar experience to what DJUG attendees experienced last night, without the download/deployment failures.

You can click through my presentation below, download it from my presentations page, or view it on SlideShare.

You might notice my announcement on slide #32 that I've signed up to write a book on JHipster.

The JHipster Mini-Book

I haven't started writing the book yet, but I have been talking with InfoQ and other folks about it for several months. I plan to use Asciidoctor and Gradle as my authoring tools. If you have experience writing a book with these tools, I'd love to hear about it. If you've developed an application with JHipster and have some experience in the trenches, I'd love to hear your stories too.

As I told DJUG last night, I plan to be done with the book in a few months. However, if you've been a reader of this blog, you'll know I've been planning to be done with my '66 VW Bus in just a few more months for quite some time, so that phrase has an interesting meaning for me. ;)

Posted in Java at Apr 09 2015, 08:31:54 AM MDT 4 Comments

Skiing Adventures with our Syncro in the Rocky Mountains

Our Syncro Westy was returned to us in early February, after being in the shop since just before Christmas. It was in the shop for body work caused by an accident that was my fault. Luckily, no one was hurt and the damage was minor. The morning after we got it back, my awesome friend Ryan Moore and I packed it up and headed on a hut trip near Aspen, Colorado.

Packed and ready for Crested Butte. The next weekend was one of the most popular skiing holidays: Presidents' Day Weekend. We packed up the kids and drove our Ski Bus to Crested Butte. I took my guitar and Trish took her banjo (we both started taking weekly lessons at the beginning of the year). Our drive was smooth and our weekend was fabulous.

Saturday was Valentine's Day and I surprised Trish with a photo shoot of our family. I'd secretly hired Alison White to take our pictures and we met with her to talk about what we wanted on Saturday morning. After a fun consultation, we ventured to the mountain, picking up James Ward along the way. We skied a few runs together, stopped at the Ice Bar for a car bomb, then whisked off to our photo shoot.

Jack, James, Abbie and myself skiing in heaven! Yay! Car bombs at Ice bar

We are extremely pleased with the results. Thanks Alison!

Abbie Jack

Trish, You're Amazing!

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Posted in General at Mar 13 2015, 06:01:09 AM MDT Add a Comment

How To Setup Your Own Software Development Company, 6 Years Later

Just over six years ago, I wrote a popular post titled How To Setup Your Own Software Development Company. I'd just left LinkedIn a few months earlier and was enjoying consulting life again, working with a group of friends at Evite. In the article, I wrote about how I liked consulting because it forces you to keep your skills up-to-date and it pays a lot better. I also talked about the type of legal entity you should form (I have an S Corp), what business insurance you should buy, what I had for health insurance and how I automated payroll and tax payments.

I recently received an email from a reader, asking me if I had any updated thoughts.

It's been nearly six years since you wrote the article about starting your own business ... and thanks, by the way.

I am starting my venture into independent contract work as a software engineer (Java technology) in California and most likely will setup an S corp entity.

Seeing that you wrote this six years ago and things have considerably changed in the U.S. (economy, health care, etc.), I was wondering if you had some updated thoughts to share, perhaps some learned lessons even.

And also, I have questions about business insurance: what type of insurance should I opt for? Is there really an umbrella insurance out there? Or does each (or many) clients out there dictate the insurance you need?

Yes, a lot has changed in the last six years. The economy has improved and health care costs have risen. Through this time, I've been able to continue to operate as an independent software developer and keep the contracts flowing. Personally, the biggest changes in my life have been outside of work. I met an exceptional woman, traveled to conferences all around the world with her, got married, traveled some more, then bought a VW Westfalia so we could have lots of fun traveling in our own backyard. All the while, I've worked for some great clients. I built a team of hot shots at Time Warner Cable (many of them still work there), I skied the awesome powder of Utah while working at Overstock and I enjoyed a long-term contract at Oracle. After Oracle, I got into the healthcare industry and I've been working in it ever since.

In fact, I just finished working for a healthcare company last week and I'm on the hunt for my next gig in April. Check out my LinkedIn profile if you'd like to see my résumé.

I've learned quite a few lessons over the last several years. As an independent developer, the biggest thing I've learned is marketing is key. I've always known this, but I've been reminded of its importance a few times. When I worked at Taleo (after Overstock), I was on a 3-month contract that turned into a 9-month contract that got a 1-year extension when Oracle bought them. The work was challenging, but the application was outdated. Getting them to adopt new technologies like Bootstrap and AngularJS was difficult. When Oracle took over, they offered me a 1-year contract at a great rate. I accepted, never thinking it would be difficult to get paid from someone like Oracle. It took them over three months to pay my first invoice and it took me another three months to get payments flowing regularly. I felt like I was trapped. I felt like I could quit, but that wouldn't speed up the process of getting my invoices paid. From this experience, I'm hesitant to start with any contract that's longer than three months.

During my time at Oracle, I didn't blog as much as I had previously (because the day-to-day work wasn't that exciting), but I did still speak at conferences. Last year, I took the year off from speaking at conferences altogether. Speaking is an excellent marketing tool. Because of my lack of speaking, I saw a downturn in contract opportunities in Q4 last year.

As far as health insurance is concerned, I continued to have a disaster prevention plan, with a $5K per year deductible. I paid around $300/month for this, and rarely used it. By riding my bike to my office in downtown Denver, and skiing a bunch in the winter, I felt like I was pretty healthy. After I stopped eating sugar last fall, I became much healthier. So much healthier that I've stopped taking high blood pressure medication. Today, I don't pay for health insurance. Trish went back to IT Security Sales in November and she was able to get me on her company's plan for $100 cheaper than what I was paying. I didn't have dental insurance for the last five years and I did have to shell out $5K for a tooth implant at one point.

For business insurance, I have the Business Owner's Policy from The Hartford. I pay around $600/year and I've gotten that back when I've had laptops stolen or accidentally killed my iPhone. I've got automated backups going all the time, so I haven't lost any data in several years. This insurance policy and its liability coverage has been "good enough" for all my clients, including the big ones.

I think the biggest lesson I've learned in the last several years is that the best way to be rich is to be rich in time. I've always dreamed of making $500/hour and working 20 hours per week. While $500/hour sounds crazy, you know there's consultants out there that are making that kinda cash. They're probably not in software, maybe they're political consultants, or former professional athletes, but those consulting rates do exist. In software, there's certainly companies that bill those kinda rates. My rates for the last several years haven't been that good, but they've been pretty awesome.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to work 20 hours per week instead of 40. It was one of the greatest work-life experiences I've had to date. I was still able to pay all my bills, and I had time during each-and-every-day to do something fun. When working 40 hours per week, exercising and cooking dinner were somewhat of a chore. When I flipped to working less, work became the chore and exercise and cooking became the fun parts of my day. I read somewhere recently that if Americans valued health over wealth, we'd be a lot better off. I felt like I did this when working less and that I was rich in time.

Related to feeling better over making more, I've started to target employment opportunities that offer a good team to work with. For the last year, most of my contracts have been with remote clients, where they haven't required me to travel onsite. While this sounds great in theory, I do miss the comradery that exists when working with a team. Working with someone over a Skype/HipChat call is nothing like sitting next to each other and cracking jokes while writing code. Don't get me wrong, I love remote work, but I do think it's important to be onsite and collaborating face-to-face at least once per month.

To those individuals looking to start their own Solopreneurship, I hope this advice helps. It's been a great experience for me.

Posted in Java at Mar 02 2015, 09:26:01 AM MST 5 Comments

AppFuse 3.5 Released!

The AppFuse Team is pleased to announce the release of AppFuse 3.5. This release contains a number of improvements.

  • XML reduced by 8x in projects generated with AppFuse
  • CRUD generation support for Wicket, as well as AppFuse Light archetypes (Spring Security, Spring FreeMarker and Stripes)
  • Upgraded Tapestry to 5.4
  • Integrated Spring IO Platform for dependency management
  • Refactored unit tests to use JUnit 4
  • Renamed maven-warpath-plugin to warpath-maven-plugin
  • Upgraded to jWebUnit 3 for AppFuse Light integration tests
  • Updated all AppFuse Light modules to be up-to-date

For more details on specific changes see the release notes.

What is AppFuse?
AppFuse is a full-stack framework for building web applications on the JVM. It was originally developed to eliminate the ramp-up time when building new web applications. Over the years, it has matured into a very testable and secure system for creating Java-based webapps.

Demos for this release can be viewed at http://demo.appfuse.org. Please see the QuickStart Guide to get started with this release.

If you have questions about AppFuse, please read the FAQ or join the user mailing list. If you find any issues, please report them on the users mailing list. You can also post them to Stack Overflow with the "appfuse" tag.

Thanks to everyone for their help contributing patches, writing documentation and participating on the mailing lists.

We greatly appreciate the help from our sponsors, particularly Atlassian, Contegix, and JetBrains. Atlassian and Contegix are especially awesome: Atlassian has donated licenses to all its products and Contegix has donated an entire server to the AppFuse project.

Posted in Java at Feb 20 2015, 09:08:53 AM MST Add a Comment

Best Practices for using Foundation with AngularJS Revisited

Angular Foundation A couple weeks ago I wrote about using Foundation with AngularJS. Based on research I'd done, I concluded that it was best to use Foundation for Apps for any webapps my client created and Foundation for Sites for any websites (e.g. a WordPress-based intranet).

After doing my initial research, I did some prototyping with Foundation for Apps (F4A). What I discovered is that F4A does not include all the same components as Foundation for Sites (F5). For example, the top-bar and dropdown functionality are missing. I posted my issues to the Foundation Forums.

The response I received:

It should work. You would need to copy over all the Scss and global mixins that you used in top-bar or at least all the output CSS from it. Otherwise there is no reason the components won't fit into the grid.

I was able to import Foundation for Sites into my project by adding it to bower.json:

  "dependencies": {
    "foundation-apps": "~1.0.2",
    "foundation": "~5.5.1"
  }

After doing this, I added the new path to Gulpfile.js:

var sassPaths = [
  'client/assets/scss',
  'bower_components/foundation/scss',
  'bower_components/foundation-apps/scss'
];

After making this change, the top-bar rendered and my dropdowns worked. Since there was no jQuery in the page, I thought this might be a viable option. However, Jason Demitri quickly pointed out it probably wouldn't work with mobile. He was right.

While using F4A, I noticed that its components, and much of its look-n-feel, was different than F5. If you look at its Email App template, you'll see it looks kinda like a mobile app, even in a desktop browser. After trying F4A myself, I decided that F4A wasn't for us. First of all, it doesn't seem to provide a consistent look and feel with a website that's written using F5. Furthermore, F4A only supports IE10+. In the healthcare industry, there's a lot of older browsers out there, so my client needs to support IE9 as a minimum.

For these reasons, I decided to try Angular directives for Foundation. I took a prototype I'd written with F5, removed its JavaScript, added Angular Foundation + Foundation dependencies to bower.json, added references to the respective scripts in index.html and added 'mm.foundation' as a dependency in app.js. The experiment worked beautifully and I was quite happy with the results. I shared my findings with the team and we decided Angular Foundation is the best way to integrate Foundation and AngularJS.

F4A is pretty new and I imagine it'll add more of F5's features as it evolves. However, I don't know if the two will ever be so similar that they can live side-by-side and allow a seamless experience for users. If you're interested in mixing F4A and F5, you might want to watch Jason Demitri's foundationUltra. This project combines Angular Foundation, Foundation for Sites, Foundation for Apps and Font Awesome. You can see a demo at http://relutiondev.github.io/foundationUltra/.

Posted in The Web at Feb 19 2015, 09:38:42 AM MST 1 Comment

How to ReactJS and Tooling is Awesome at HTML5 Denver

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the HTML5 Denver Meetup with two talks by Will Klein. I was motivated to attend because React has been on my radar for a while and Will's first talk was titled How to ReactJS. Will's presentation doesn't show the real meat of this talk, which contained lots of live coding. Will started with a static webapp, then converted it to use React bit-by-bit. His live coding was greatly helped by the fact that he had 3-4 co-workers in the room, so there was a sense of pair programming when things didn't work. During the presentation, he mentioned the JavaScript Jabber Podcast on React. I listened to it this morning, and I recommend it if you want to learn about the history of React.

Will's second talk was titled Tooling is Awesome. In this presentation, he showed us how to use npm and webpack. Again, the presentation doesn't capture the vast amount of knowledge demonstrated during the live-cli session. I hadn't heard of webpack before, so I was pumped to learn about it. If you need to complete/translate to JavaScript or CSS from another language, chances are that webpack will work well for you. During this demo, Will converted the previously developed React code to require/export modules, as well to do transpilation using webpack's jsx-loader. He also mentioned Keith Cirkel's How to Use npm as a Build Tool. If you're just getting started with JavaScript development and don't want to learn tools like Grunt or Gulp, this article will help you use npm as your only build tool.

Even though you can't experience the live-coding that happened last night, the code has been posted to GitHub. If you're looking to have talks about developing with React, I'd suggest contacting Will. He delivered great talks on subjects I've been keen to learn more about. Thanks Will!

In other Denver-related tech news, ThingMonk is coming March 3-4 and HTML5 Denver has lightning talks on March 23rd. ThingMonk is "a meeting of the tribes for people building the Internet of Things" and is sure to be a great conference. The Redmonk crew is always fun to hang out with and knows how to create a conference. Did I mention it's at a distillery?! The lightning talks in March are always a great time too. You can really learn a lot in a short period of time and it's a great way to share knowledge about cool technology you've recently used. Heck, you could attend ThingMonk, then create a lightning talk about what you learned for HTML5 Denver!

Posted in The Web at Feb 17 2015, 10:16:08 AM MST Add a Comment