About Zach and Aha!

Zach likes to write elegant code to solve inelegant problems. He is a Software Engineer at Aha! - the world’s #1 product roadmap software. Previously, he worked at two successful software consulting firms and authored several open-source projects. He lives in Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in Computer Science.

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How I Convinced Our CTO to Switch From CoffeeScript to ES6

coffeescript to es6

Aha! is a Rails monolith. Although we have embraced front end technologies, such as webpack and React, Rails is the glue that holds everything together. And like many Rails monoliths, CoffeeScript made up the bulk of our front end code. It was the obvious choice for us when Aha! launched in 2013 — back when Rails 3 was stable and ES6 still lived in arcane specification documents.

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3 Ways Product Managers Make Engineers Happy

snail crossing train tracks

The relationship between a skilled product manager and their technical team is like the tracks to a train. Product managers provide direction and purpose. They guide engineers so they can do what they do best — write code and implement features that customers care about.

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6 Common Misconceptions About Engineers, Debunked

computer programmer working in a dark office

Most product managers develop a close working relationship with their engineering team over time. Although sometimes a little quiet, they’re a lovable bunch of nerds — right? On weekends they probably go home to drink Mountain Dew and play online games until the wee hours of the morning. They wake up at 10 a.m. and start again.

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Why You Should Not Major in Engineering

My college algorithms class was the final weed-out course in the computer science program. It covered advanced topics like computational complexity and graph theory. If you passed, you would likely graduate. If you didn’t, the universe might be hinting that you aren’t cut out for a computer science career. Read more…

Why Doesn't Every App Autosave?

Every user knows the frustration of composing a long, thoughtful document or email only to experience a last-second crash or power failure right before they click “send.”
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Just Open Sourced: Log Search Built on Google BigQuery

Maintaining useful application logs is a challenging problem, especially when dealing with tens of gigabytes of new data every day. When trying to trace down an error or determine when a regression was introduced, having comprehensive and verbose logs can save hours of frustration. But when trying to provision a server or scale a database, accounting for gigabytes upon gigabytes of logs is a nightmare.

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Perfecting a Smooth Scrolling Experience for Large Tables

Depending on who you ask, the <table> is a quintessential cornerstone of web development old and new; an outmoded curiosity from a time where CSS lacked floating elements; or somewhere in between. But even the biggest critics of the <table> must admit that it is excellent at one task: laying out and automatically resizing to accommodate data of varying width and height.
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How Engineers Want to Work with Product Managers

Engineers want to build the product. They do not want to manage it. So, you can see why a good product manager is an engineer’s dream come true. They empower the engineers on their team to build things that matter by setting clear and comprehensive goals, strategy, and initiatives. Then, great PMs prioritize potential features by how well they help their company achieve its goals.
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Code Complexity Metrics Suck — Use Them Anyway

I love contributing meaningful code to the open-source community; I do it every chance that I get. A few years back, I authored my first major open source project — a Rails application for developers to set up an anonymous bug report page. The bug reports generated GitHub issues on the relevant project.
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Using Nested Selects for Performance in Rails

Databases are fast, even at performing fairly complex operations. This is easy to forget in the age of ORMs and abstraction and many of us haven’t written a line of raw SQL in months.

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Making Magic with contenteditable="true"

I love this team. I love the product and engineering team at Aha! because we believe in objectively prioritizing work. To truly build what matters, you must identify which feature requests will help you achieve your goal and which ones will waste your time. Most ideas sound great but actually matter little.
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