The Bike Shed

About the show

On The Bike Shed, hosts Chris Toomey & Steph Viccari discuss their development experience and challenges at thoughtbot with Ruby, Rails, JavaScript, and whatever else is drawing their attention, admiration, or ire this week.

The Bike Shed on social media


  • 223: Terrible and Easy

    November 26th, 2019  |  44 mins 52 secs

    On this week's episode, Chris and Steph discuss identifying refactoring opportunities by highlighting overly coupled code and Chris announces that he has advanced his vim setup into the 21st century by making the switch to Neovim.

    They also respond to a timely question from a listener who's thinking about learning vim, which raises the important question: is vim still relevant? And if so, how does one get started? Rounding out the conversation, they discuss treating the database as a product's first (or last) line of defense.

  • 222: That Eureka Moment

    November 12th, 2019  |  36 mins 29 secs

    On this week's episode, Steph and Chris dive into the world of crafting pull requests for optimal code review, as well as the flip side of providing code review. How can we make it easy for reviewers, and as reviewers, how can we make it easy for our teammates to incorporate our suggestions?

    They also discuss the world of testing, from integration to visual to unit testing, and some of the tools an practices they use at each level.

    Lastly, they discuss Steph's continued pairing adventures and possibly finding her max on the pairing front, a quick update on mechanical keyboards, and Steph shares a teaser of an upcoming workshop she'll be hosting around how to stay agile when building health tech products.

  • 221: An Informed Opinion

    November 5th, 2019  |  45 mins 13 secs

    On this week's episode, Chris and Steph catch up on recent client adventures, revisit their feelings on using let in rspec, and spend a bit of time outside their respective comfort zones. There's also some talk about nearly full-time pairing, mechanical keyboards, debugging thorny datetime issues, and how we interact with our developer tools and workflows.

  • 220: Adequately Fun

    October 29th, 2019  |  52 mins 29 secs

    On this week's episode, Chris and Steph chat about their new client projects, VimScript, and ways to automate refreshing materialized views in tests. They also play the game Overrated/Underrated, created by Tyler Cowen, and respond to a CS student who is feeling overwhelmed by the various technologies and looking to transition from tutorials to meaningful projects.

  • 219: Seeking That Middle Option

    October 22nd, 2019  |  36 mins 2 secs

    On this week's episode, Steph catches us up on her ever-growing collection of mechanical keyboards, Chris talks about his recent purchase of an apple watch, and they follow up a previous discussion around case-sensitivity (or insensitivity) in URLs and email addresses. They round out the discussion with a chat about writing blog posts and some postgres fun, and finally discuss the merits and drawbacks of monorepos.

  • 218: Finesse in Quitting (Brittany Martin)

    October 15th, 2019  |  41 mins 54 secs

    On this week's episode, Steph is joined by Brittany Martin, an avid Rubyist and the host of the Ruby on Rails Podcast. They discuss Brittany's passion for roller derby and her upcoming Ruby conference talk: "Hire Me, I'm Excellent at Quitting." They also discuss using AWS Serverless, troubleshooting Postgress connection errors and working with Google Pay and Apple Wallet to introduce digital tickets.

  • 217: A Vote For Reasonableness

    October 8th, 2019  |  32 mins 47 secs

    On this week's episode, Steph shares an update on her mechanical keyboard adventures and provides a summary for the Ruby pipeline operator being reverted. Chris gets Steph's opinion on a possible improvement around using materialized views in tests and describes a recent debugging adventure he and Steph went on. They also discuss a listener question regarding encouraging companies to use Ruby and Rails and asking how we identify ourselves as developers. Finally, they round out the conversation with a clarification around public vs private GraphQL APIs.

  • 216: I'm Not the Best Criminal

    October 1st, 2019  |  39 mins 16 secs

    On this week's episode, Steph recounts an issue with an email client that lowercases URLs and Chris ponders the art of logging and using structured logs. They also highlight a plugin that improves TypeScript support in Vim, how the Pinterest team celebrates the "retirement" of code, and respond to a listener who is debating between refactoring their app or investing in a full rewrite.

  • 215: Start With People

    September 24th, 2019  |  35 mins

    On this week's episode, Steph returns from vacation and Chris makes some noise about a fantastic new button. They discuss Steph's continued adventures in search of the perfect mechanical keyboard and then dig into two listener questions on landing a first job as a developer and what frameworks and languages to focus on, as well as discussing some of the common objections to GraphQL.

  • 214: Have You Tried Refreshing the Page?

    September 17th, 2019  |  38 mins 43 secs

    On this week's episode, Matt Sumner guest stars to discuss his recent adventures on a project that uses React, TypeScript and GraphQL. Along the way, Matt and Chris discuss VS Code features, Apollo caching and reflect upon their first year as Development Directors. 

  • 213: Admins Matter Too

    September 10th, 2019  |  35 mins 18 secs

    On this week's episode, Steph discusses a mini design sprint she led to help validate an internal admin tool while Chris muses on the merits of net negative lines of code on a project. They dig into the idea that while code can certainly be an asset, it may also be a liability. They investigate ActiveSupport::MessageVerifier for secure time-sensitive tokens. Steph shares details about her recent visit to the Ruby on Rails Podcast and Chris shares the recording for a talk he gave on understanding technology choices. Lastly, they round out the conversation with a listener question about build times and lock files and how to organize and split up our tests.

  • 212: Award Winning Sheds

    September 4th, 2019  |  37 mins 17 secs

    On this week's episode, Steph and Chris share the news that The Bike Shed won the Best Dev Podcast on the Hackernoon Noonies awards! After a bit of celebration, they get back to their normal adventures with a discussion around onboarding covering the importance, approach, and pitfalls that they've seen in their time joining countless teams. They also touch on the relevance and increasing ease of SSL everywhere, and they answer a listener question about technical debt and rewriting applications.

  • 211: I'm Not a Lawyer, But...

    August 27th, 2019  |  36 mins 28 secs

    On this week's episode, Chris and Steph discuss their preferred strategy when building an admin portal (spoiler: it's not using a client-side technology), separating our identity from our preferred technology, coding styles that require greater mental effort, and answer a listener's question about deleting migrations.

  • 210: Stop Trying to Make Fetch Happen

    August 20th, 2019  |  34 mins 46 secs

    On this week's episode, Steph and Chris discuss mechanical keyboards, combating error fatigue, the joy of admin features and respond to two listener questions about typed vs dynamic languages and various ways to "speed up" third-party API calls.

  • 209: We Will Never Know Enough (Michael Chan)

    August 13th, 2019  |  39 mins 15 secs

    On this week's episode Chris is joined by Michael Chan aka @chantastic, host of the React Podcast and prolific maker and sharer throughout the internets. They discuss Micheal's work on the React Podcast and themes in open source in general, Michael's focus on communication and delivering value, and the honest take that no one has all the answers or a silver bullet.

  • 208: Goldilocks and the Three Monitors

    August 6th, 2019  |  33 mins 30 secs

    On this week's episode, Chris and Steph weigh-in on curved monitors, discuss how pairing improves productivity and team morale, and respond to two listener questions inquiring what makes Rails successful and new project nerves.