Read my latest article: Ezra Zygmuntowicz -- Farewell, Friend. (posted Mon, 01 Dec 2014 17:53:00 GMT)

Ruby on Rails gets down to business

Posted by Tue, 29 May 2007 14:53:00 GMT

It’s been a week since I announced the new Ruby on Rails meets the business world group. Already, the group attracted over 300 members from around the globe... from Argentina, Boston, Australia, Florida, Seattle, Portland!, the Netherlands, and South Africa.

We’ve already seen some great topics come up… from:

  • Project estimates
  • Fixed bids versus time and materials
  • Pricing
  • Handling code ownership with client contracts
  • Incorporating (LLC, S CORP?)
  • Managing money/accounting
  • Contracts

I expect that many of these topics will resurface and there has been a lot of valuable information passed around. It’s exciting to see that so many people not only want to use Ruby on Rails as a platform of choice for their business ventures, but they’re also willing to share their personal experiences and knowledge to help others move into this space.

If you’re running a business that focuses on Ruby on Rails or just considering it, you should stop by and introduce yourself.

update: membership grew from 200 to over 300 in the past day!

Ostrava on Rails, part 2

Posted by Fri, 25 May 2007 15:15:00 GMT

Several weeks ago, I announced that I will be speaking at Ostrava on Rails and had begun working on my presentation for “The Case for Rails.”

Unfortunately, there seemed to be some miscommunication within the management of the conference organizers and I will no longer be heading to Czech Republic for Ostrava on Rails.

I’d like to thank everyone who emailed me with advice on where to stay before/during/after the conference and in Prague. I really appreciated that and hope that everyone who makes it to the conference has a good time!

Hug Your Designer Day, part 2

Posted by Wed, 23 May 2007 22:04:00 GMT

In an effort to increase awareness of the importance of good Interaction and Interface Design in Web Development… I suggested that today be... Hug Your Designer Day.

Designers Versus Developers

Are you seeing a lot of this in your Design and Development teams?


Allison Beckwith, Experience Director and Graeme Nelson, Lead Architect

Happy Designers and Happy Developers

Well, maybe it’s time that your developers gave your designers a hug…


Alain Bloch, Web Developer and Chris Griffin, User Interface Designer

Also… to celebrate Hug Your Designer Day, Amy Hoy was kind enough to post her slides and some audio that I recorded of her talk at RailsConf 07.

Let’s all take a moment to thank the designers who put the experience of the users first. The success of our projects rely on everyone working together. Hug Your Designer! (they might hug back…)

Hug Your Designer Day

Posted by Tue, 22 May 2007 22:18:00 GMT

Amy Hoy, of slash7 fame, gave a talk titled, Rubber, Meet Road: Getting Designers Running with Rails, which provided a good overview of some of the problems that designers and developers face when working together. This was one of my favorite talks, because she essentially explained several of the problems that our team has faced in the past and in many ways, still encounter from time to time. A few things that I was surprised to hear, was that several companies leave their developers to implement HTML/CSS in the Rails applications, rather than let their designers into the area. Some teams, provide a directory in public/ for their designers to write their HTML/CSS. Amy said that she preferred to work in the standard view directories (as a designer), which is exactly how our team works.

In fact, I agreed with Amy on several points.

  • Developers say, “We can’t do that” too often, when really… we mean, “We won’t/don’t want to) do that”
  • Template languages create extra barriers to training designers. Stick with RHTML… designers won’t be afraid of ERb syntax if you sit down with them and explain some of it. Move the ugly stuff to helpers… like you should be anyways!
  • Teach your designers how to use subversion… let them break it first and then help them… they’ll love you for it
  • When meeting clients with a designer and a developer… don’t let the developer speak too much about implementation when it hasn’t been designed yet. Interaction Design should dictate architecture not vice-versa.

“Stop, Collaborate, and Listen”—Vanilla Ice

I’d like to personally thank Amy for being a diplomatic designer and telling the hundreds of developers that showed up for her talk to remember that designers and developers… think differently… and that’s a good thing for the application and ultimately… the user experience.

Having said that, I’d like to request that tomorrow, May 23rd, be… Hug Your Designer Day.

Ruby on Rails meets the Business World

Posted by Tue, 22 May 2007 00:36:00 GMT

On Saturday, I had the great pleasure of being up in front of several hundred people with the following individuals on the the Business of Rails panel at RailsConf.


Photo by James Duncan Davidson

Moderated by:
  • Nathaniel Talbott, President, Terralien, Inc.
The Victims:
  • Justin Gehtland, Founding Partner, Relevance
  • Geoffrey Grosenbach, Topfunky
  • Andre Lewis, Earthcode Studios
  • Joe O’Brien, artisan, EdgeCase, LLC
  • Robby Russell, Director, PLANET ARGON

Overall, the experience was fantastic. I really enjoyed the questions that Nathaniel and the audience threw our direction, both during and after the session. Throughout the remainder of the conference, people would catch me and present complicated business questions to me and ask for my input. I think that I even helped one guy make his final decision about which job offer he was going to accept (btw, did you decide yet?). It’s always great to share my experiences of leaving my last full-time job (3+ years ago), moving to Rails exclusively (2+ years ago), how Allison and I went from two people in an attic to seven people in an attic in about a month... to having an office in downtown Portland and clients around the globe. I’m also always happy to share my not-so-happy experiences throughout the past few years as well. Running a business is hard stuff as it comes with a whole lot of responsibility, which can lead to stress. It was great to know that the rest of the panel has had their difficult experiences. While Rails makes everything feel easy… running a business is a whole different spectrum of challenges. ;-)

At one point during the session the audience was asked, “How many of you are considering starting your own business based on Ruby on Rails?”

The response?

Based off of my extremely scientific calculations (looking around the room), I’d estimate that around 30-40% of the audience raised their hands! Wow. It was fantastic to see that there was that much interest in people starting venturing off onto their own. Imagine… a flood of new companies, competing directly with us… and guess what? I think that’s awesome! Awesome for Rails. Awesome for future startups. Awesome for everyone!

Let’s face it. Rails isn’t going anywhere for a long time.

So, now that the conference is over, questions have begun to appear in my email box. Thank you all for writing. What if you could have a sounding board to throw questions to on a regular basis? Unfortunately, our session only lasted a hour at RailsConf and too many questions weren’t gotten to. Well, I’ve asked the rest of those on the Business of Rails panel to join me on a google group, titled, Ruby on Rails meets the Business World.

If you’re looking to (A) start your own Rails-based business, (B) already run your own Rails-based business, or ((C)) have business experience that you’d like to share with those in camp A and B… then join the community and start some conversations.

Personally, I’m really looking forward to learning from you all and hope that my experience of co-founding and leading PLANET ARGON can be of benefit to all of you.


Photo by James Duncan Davidson

All the cool kids are doing it... why aren't you?

Posted by Thu, 17 May 2007 18:15:00 GMT

Josh Knowles just mentioned an article written by David Chelminsky, titled, an introduction to RSpec – Part I. In this article, David introduces you to some of the new language that appeared in some of the recent versions of RSpec as well as give you a complete tutorial on building some specs.

Last night, I had the opportunity to sit down with Aslak Hellesøy and David Chelimsky for a few hours and talk about my experiences of using RSpec at PLANET ARGON and how it’s helped us redefine and evolve our process. In particular, how RSpec has helped us reshape our process of gathering user interaction specifications from our Interaction Design team and business rules from our clients.

If you’re in town and are using RSpec… or are thinking about using RSpec… and see these guys… thank them for all the hard work that they’re doing… and of course, if you run into anybody else on the team... do the same. :-)

Aslak Hellesøy and David Chelimsky
Aslak Hellesøy and David Chelimsky

Also, by the end of the conference... Graeme and I are hoping to have a small project done to help encourage more adoption of Behavior-Driven Development

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