weeknotes WK1

Last updated Jul 08 2022

Inspired by other weeknotes and the desire to capture the knowledge, thoughts, questions I encounter each week in a place that is not exclusive to me. Week 1!

Starting things & streaks

For the most part, I feel like a fairly disciplined individual and am well set in my routines and habits. But there's lots of things I want to do, with little time to fit it in. Trying to mash them in all at once is also difficult and the wrong approach.

My oldest has been learning french in school and now that summer is here, I thought it'd be fun to continue some of that learning. So, I downloaded Streaks for iOS and am on a 6 day Duolingo streak. Nothing impressive, but I'm going to work my way towards some fun vocabulary that him and I can share. Upside is that Duolingo Kids is a great product.

Hopefully once I get this as a habit (only 15 min a day of Duolingo!) I can follow through with dedicating 30 minutes a day to my Gameboy emulator. A little trickier due to the heavy context you need to immerse yourself in, so we'll see.

And yes, I'm using that app to manage my weeknotes streak (starting today!)

An introduction to AI-powered semantic search

This video was a great introduction into the world of semantic & supervised search, history of the tooling, and the shift towards this "new paradigm". As someone who has minimal experience in this space, I enjoyed this talk. Notes of interest:

Go reflection and custom marshalling

At work, I encountered a fun Go problem where I need to marshal any arbitrary struct into a JSON representation that modifies the JSON output at the field level, while ensuring only specified fields from the struct are marshalled.

Basically, you go from something like this:

type Book struct {
Author string `json:"author"`
Title string `json:"title"`
LastIndexed int `json:"last_indexed"`

To this:

"author": {
"assign": "Kim Stanley Robison",
"title": {
"assign": "Red Mars (Trilogy #1)"

Note the lack of last_indexed in the output. In this case, it is not a writeable field. However, we do want it to be marshalled (and unmarshalled) in other cases.

At compile time, we know which fields can be assigned this operator (not all fields can be marshalled this way). We know the types which we'd like to provide this custom marshalling, and we don't want to overload MarshalJSON.

The immediate idea was to implement a custom marshaler, but that overloads the JSON tag. Not all fields should be in this output. We could use an auxiliary struct though:

func (b Book) MarshalJSON() ([]byte, error) {
return json.Marshal(&struct{
Author string `json:"author"`
Title string `json:"title"`
Author: b.Author,
Title: b.Title,

This overloads the marshaler which isn't great. We could of course have a custom method, MarshalJSONWritable(). This works, but it gets cumbersome with a lot of fields and many types. Now the behaviour for what is writeable is sprinkled in many places, and can be worsened if there's particular behaviour we'd need to implement for each marshaler. (I hinted with the assign key that there may be more than one operator to consider)

So what next? I took inspiration from the json tag itself and pondered implementing a custom struct tag. Struct tags are small pieces of metadata attached to a struct which provides instructions to other parts of your Go code as to how it should work with this struct. I can enrich the struct with a custom tag, signalling that these are writeable.

type Book struct {
Author string `json:"author" assign:"author"`
Title string `json:"title" assign:"title"`
LastIndexed int `json:"last_indexed"`

I then wrote a simple function which uses reflect to find fields with this tag, checking for a few additional traits, like omitempty. An example of that, snipped for brevity:

func assignableFields(v any) map[string]any {
keys := reflect.TypeOf(v)
values := reflect.ValueOf(v)
assignable := fields{}
for i := 0; i < keys.NumField(); i++ {
field := keys.Field(i)
value := values.Field(i)
tag := field.Tag.Get(assignTagName)
// ... tag checks and omitempty snipped
assignable[tag] = value.Interface()
return assignable

The output is the assignable fields inside a map[string]any which can now be marshalled as prescribed by the underlying types. With this, the behaviour around the assign tag is in a single method (assignableFields) and I can package all possible operators in one space. There's possibly a bit of digging to understand what this assign tag is and where its behaviour is defined, but that's something I will work through.

I found this solution to be more elegant than auxiliary structs and custom marshalling but it might surprise me as it gets primed through use. We'll see!



This was a long weeknotes and it's my first. I'm going to imagine future ones will be less ambitious. Either way, this was fun.