It has been two years since I have started to work on my hobby project Chunkyard. Over these years I have used this project to test out different ideas and concepts, which is something that you cannot always do in a professional environment. This post highlights a few topics which I have explored.
My initial plans were to create some sort of general purpose library (hah!) that I could use to implement different types of applications such as a version control system, a backup tool or some sort of application installer/updater. But reality is messy and so I had to abandon those plans rather quickly. Creating a content-addressable storage with or without encryption comes with its own set of pitfalls, which makes it hard to come up with a general solution. So instead of a library I settled for the application that I wanted to build.
A backup tool must be reliable. You don’t want to end up in a situation where a bug breaks your data. All my backups are done using Chunkyard, so preventing mistakes is something that is important to me in more than one way. While I cannot ensure that the code base is free of bugs, I have come up with a testing suite that gives me enough confidence to explore ideas or implement features.
Since I do not have any “real” users (besides myself), I can test out all sorts of designs without having to consider backwards compatibility. Re-reading older posts such as Chunkyard Explained makes me laugh, because the serialized data format has changed more than once since I have written that post.
Chunkyard was the first project in which I have developed a makefile-style build tool in C#. Some of my work colleagues liked the idea and we ported the concept to one our own projects.
I have no deep understanding of how a computer actually works. Don’t get me wrong, Chunkyard is not slow, but listening to people such as Martin Thompson makes you wonder how much resources you are wasting for non-essential work. His conference talks motivated me to write a lock-free ring buffer which is still an experimental feature for creating backups. Measuring is not always easy since antivirus software, the actual hardware and some OS-internal caching magic makes it hard to get meaningful data.