Welcome to nickb.dev, a blog by Nick Babcock! Below are my most recent articles. You can find the history of all my writings in the archive or just find out more about me.


Rethinking web workers and edge compute with Wasm

It dawned on me that I could be treating web workers almost as if I am communicating with a server, and that the same tools for managing application logic for remote communications, can be used for local message passing with web workers. I can also deploy the same client side Wasm on the edge for low latency validation and data extraction.

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Cloudflare Tunnel saved my home server when my apartment got a new ISP

My apartment building recently switched ISPs. After they finished installing, all the sites I host on my home server were no longer accessible. Cue the panic. My server relied on a publicly addressable IPv4 address, so how I can fix this?

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Avoiding allocations in Rust to shrink Wasm modules

“Rust lacks a runtime, enabling small .wasm sizes because there is no extra bloat included like a garbage collector. You only pay (in code size) for the functions you actually use.” Easier said than done, as one has to watch out for allocations as they may significantly impact the Wasm module side.

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Favoring SQL over Redis for an evergreen leaderboard

Redis is a natural choice for a database when showcasing a leaderboard, but sometimes introducing a database for this purpose can be excessive and unnecessarily complicate an application. Don’t overlook that SQL database you’re already employing.

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DEFLATE yourself for faster Rust ZIPs

The Rust crate for handling ZIP files, zip-rs is quite flexible. The zip crate is compiled with builtin features to support deflated data (among other compression algorithms). This makes it incredibly easy to hit the ground running for reading and writing zips.

We can disable these builtin features. This may sound undesirable, but in fact, it is my new favorite way to integrate zip functionality into apps I write.d

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Avoiding dynamic CSS-in-JS styles in React

The React working group have given a lukewarm signal to dynamic CSS-in-JS libraries. They advocate for static CSS extraction with dynamic styling relegated to inline styles. I convert a component from CSS-in-JS to CSS modules and inline styles, and give a positive outlook for adding Tailwind to the mix.

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The footgun with Docker Compose shared configurations

Docker Compose has a nice feature where several Compose files can be seamlessly fashioned together and allow for configuration reuse across environments. There is, however, counterintuitive behavior that can lead one to accidentally overwrite remote container images. Since I lost several hours to this, I figured I’d write about it to sear the behavior into my memory.

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The subjective nature of JS libraries exposing an off the main thread API

JavaScript environments like node.js and the browser have a main thread that runs basically everything. Exhausting the main thread can cause bad user experiences. If long-running or computationally intense functions on the main thread are bad, whose responsibility is it to offload the function: the developer of the application or the library? Sometimes the answer isn’t simple.

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Recommendations when publishing a Wasm library

A set of recommendations to make publishing a Javascript library that uses Wasm internally easier for application developers. There are a significant number of use cases and edge cases that we’ll code around as we try and cater to several types of developers: from those who may not know or care about Wasm and the broader JS ecosystem, to more experienced developers who want to optimize every last drop.

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Don't freak, but our Rust web server is now Node.js

Even when the core business logic needs to be in Rust for performance, code reuse, or platform specific behavior, it doesn’t mean one needs a Rust web server to communicate this business logic. There are ergonomic ways to bridge Rust into Node.js (or another runtime) so that one can take advantage of a more established web ecosystem.

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