Read my latest article: 8 things I look for in a Ruby on Rails app (posted Thu, 06 Jul 2017 17:59:00 GMT)

So long and thanks for all the hoodwinks

Posted by Thu, 20 Aug 2009 05:24:00 GMT

_why,

If you’re out there and come across this… know that one of my fondest memories on the internet was with you. Hoodink.d was one of the greatest things on the internet four years ago and I suspect that a very tiny fraction of the Ruby community has even heard of it.

Thanks hoodwink'd

Fortunately for me, I have a copy of the hoodwink git repository and was able to get it running tonight in hopes that I might find you lurking in the mousehole. I’m convinced that you are in a parallel internetverse. Perhaps you might send me an invite.

Hoodwink'd. do you remember?

I miss hoodwink… and if you stay missing, I’ll just miss hoodwink more.

In the meantime, I wonder how hard it’ll be to get hoodwink to run on rack.

the winker's satellite office » login

Wink you on the other side, Robby

p.s. you can find me in my own mousehole… should you want to send me an invite and/or feed me cheese.

Related Posts

Ch-ch-ch-changes at Planet Argon

Posted by Wed, 12 Aug 2009 23:31:00 GMT

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I can share some recent news with you. Earlier today, we announced that Blue Box Group had acquired Rails Boxcar, our kickass deployment solution for Ruby on Rails applications.

Our team has been offering hosting services for over six years. When I made the decision to start providing Rails hosting over four years ago, it was something that I thought the community needed to validate that Ruby on Rails was a viable solution for building web applications. At the time, there was only one or two companies offering pre-configured solutions. The good ole days. :-)

Over the course of the past 4+ years, we’ve helped deploy and host well over a thousand web applications built with Ruby on Rails. Perhaps we even hosted your site at one point or another. We definitely had a lot of fun and learned a lot from our experience.

Fast-forward four years, the community now has several great solutions and options for hosting their Ruby on Rails applications. Knowing this, we began to look over the plethora of services that we offer and felt that we had been spreading ourselves too thinly. We were faced with the big question of: Should we focus our energy on trying to innovate in this competitive space or should we find a community-respected vendor to pass the torch to?

Rails Boxcar is a product that we are extremely proud of and believe the acquisition by Blue Box Group will be great for our existing customers. The acquisition is going to benefit our customers as they’ll be able to interface with a team with more resources. A team that also aims to innovate in this space and believes that Rails Boxcar will help them do that.

As a byproduct of this deal, our team has an opportunity to focus our collective energy on designing and developing web applications, which has also been a central part of what we do for as long as we’ve been in business. We plan to speed up our efforts on a handful web-based products that we’ve been internally developing and hope to release in the near future.

I had the pleasure of getting to talk thoroughly with the team at Blue Box Group and really feel like they’ll be able to focus their energy on maintaining and innovating within the Ruby on Rails hosting world.. definitely more than we could over the coming years. In the end, the acquisition is going to benefit our customers the most as they’ll be able to interface with a larger team that is innovating in this space.

If you’re interested in learning more about the acquisition, please read the press release.

From our perspective, this is a win-win-win situation for everyone involved. Expect to see some more news from us in the near future… and if you’re looking for a design and development team, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Launching Rails projects, an open call for lessons learned

Posted by Tue, 23 Jun 2009 17:33:00 GMT

I’m working on my presentation for Rails Underground and was hoping to solicit a few tips from other people in the industry.

Have you launched a Ruby on Rails application recently? Are there some things that you wish you had known beforehand?

Mind sharing? You can email me with your story at robby+launchstory@planetargon.com. I’ll let you know if your tip gets used in the presentation and please indicate if you’d be okay with me posting your tip in a future blog post.

Using model constants for project sanity

Posted by Tue, 23 Jun 2009 06:39:00 GMT

On one of our larger client projects (approx. 160 models and growing…) we have a specific model that we refer to quite a bit throughout our code. This model contains less than 10 records, but each of them sits on top of an insanely large and complex set of data. Each record refers to a each of their regions that our client does business in.

For example… we have, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, United States, and so forth. Each of these regional divisions has their own company code, which are barely distinguishable from the next. They make sense to our client, but when we’re not interacting with those codes on a regular basis, we have to look constantly look them up again to make sure we’re dealing with the right record.

I wanted to share something that we did to make this easier for our team to work around these codes, which we should have thought of long ago.

Let’s take the following mode, Division. We only have about 10 records in our database, but have conditional code throughout the site that are dependent upon which divisions specific actions are being triggered within. Each division has various business logic that we have to maintain.

Prior to our change, we’d come across a lot of code like:

# For all divisions except Canada, invoices are sent via email
# In Canada, invoices are sent via XML to a 3rd-party service
def process_invoices_for(division)
  if division.code == 'XIUHR12'
    # trigger method to send invoices to 3rd party service
    # ...
  else
    # batch up invoices and send via email
    # ...
  end
end

An alternative that we’d also find ourselves using was.

if division.name == 'Canada'

Hell, I think I’ve even seen if division.id == 2 somewhere in the code before. To be fair to ourselves, we did inherit this project a few years ago. ;-)

Throughout the code base, you’ll find business rules like this. Our developers all agreed that this was far from friendly and/or efficient and worst of all, it was extremely error-prone. There have been a few incidents where we read the code wrong and/or got them confused with one another. We were lacking a convention that we could all begin to rely on and use.

So, we decided to implement the following change.

Model Constants

You might already use constants in your Ruby on Rails application. It’s not uncommon to add a few into config/environment.rb and call it a day, but you might also consider scoping them within your models. (makes it much easier for you to maintain them as well)

In our scenario, we decided to add the following constants to our division model.

class Division < ActiveRecord::Base
  AFRICA      = self.find_by_code('XYU238')
  ASIA        = self.find_by_code('XIUHR73')
  AUSTRALIA   = self.find_by_code('XIUHR152')
  CANADA      = self.find_by_code('XIUHR12')
  USA         = self.find_by_code('XIUHR389')
  # etc..
end

What this will do is load up ech of these constants with the corresponding object. It’s basically the equivallent of us doing:

if division == Division.find_by_code('XIUHR389')

But, with this approach, we can stop worrying about their codes and use the division names that we’re talking about with our clients. Our client usually approaches us with, “In Australia, we need to do X,Y,Z differently than we do in the other divisions due to new government regulations.”

if division == Division::CANADA
  # ...
end

case division
  when Division::AFRICA
    #
  when Division::AUSTRALIA
    # ...
end

We are finding this to be much easier to read and maintain. When we’re dealing with a lot of complex business logic in the application, little changes like this can make a big difference.

If you have any alternative solutions, we’d love to hear them. Until then, we’ve been quite pleased with this approach. Perhaps you’ll find some value in it as well.

Howdy Rip!

Posted by Thu, 11 Jun 2009 17:35:00 GMT

Chris Wanstrath (@defunkt) just posted the following on twitter.

“Hello Rip – http://hellorip.com/

The Rip project describes itself as, “an attempt to create a next generation packaging system for Ruby.”

One of the cool features is that it supports multiple environments. For example, you can have different Rip environments (with different gem versioning) that are targeted towards specific applications. I have to dig around more through the project, but this looks fascinating.

Check it out at http://hellorip.com/

I’m also curious as to how you think you might be able to start using this.

What can we do right now?

Posted by Wed, 03 Jun 2009 23:12:00 GMT

Last month I picked up a new kindle from Amazon and have been reading a handful of books. One book that I’ve been really impressed with is Chad Fowler’s new book, The Passionate Programmer.

Passionate Programmer

I plan to post some more thoughts in upcoming articles, but wanted to share this gem.

“If you treat your projects like a race, you’ll get to the end a lot faster than if you treat them like a prison cell. Create movement. Be the one who pushes. Don’t get comfortable. Always be the one to ask, “But what can we do right now?”” - Chad Fowler, The Passionate Programmer

Sometimes we feel stuck, but that doesn’t stop us from stepping to the side and assessing the situation. There is always something useful that we could be doing right now.

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