You're Using SwitchTower, Aren't You?

Mike Clark declares his love for SwitchTower, the distributed deployment manager built for Ruby on Rails. He shows off a few fancy tricks in the love letter, such as how to turn web access on and off when you go down for upgrades.

I’m with Mike on this lovefest. I couldn’t imagine operating the 37signals cluster without it. Jamis Buck deserves another round of applause for this fantastic piece of software.

TextMate: The missing manual

Considering that TextMate is the defacto standard for Rails development on OS X, I thought you might all like to know that there’s now a real manual available for it. Explaining all about how you can make snippets, macros, and the rest of that sexy stuff you see sprinkled all over the Rails screencasts.

Freezing your Rails when you deploy shared

If you’re running a Ruby on Rails application on a shared host, it’s super-double-plus recommended to freeze your Rails. Freezing your Rails means putting the framework into vendor/rails instead of floating with whatever gems that are installed on the host. Because if you do so, you’ll automatically be upgraded when they are. Not a great thing for a production application to have forced upon itself.

The great news is that this is silly simple. If you’re running 0.14.x or newer, you can simple do rake freeze_gems, and the current gems the system is used are unpacked into vendor/rails. Now the host can update as silly as it wants without affecting your application.

Is GCC 4.0 incompatible with Ruby on OS X (and elsewhere)?

We’ve been receiving various reports of intermittent errors while running Rails applications and regular Ruby stuff that goes something like this: “undefined method ‘include?’ for -517611318:Fixnum”.

It appears that this might be a problem with GCC 4.0-compilations of Ruby. Most platforms are still using GCC 3.3, so they don’t see the problem. But on OS X, GCC 4.0 is now default if you’ve installed the recent Xcode. To switch back to GCC 3.3, do: sudo gcc_select 3.3 and then recompile Ruby.

We’ve love to get more reports and evidence on what exactly the problem is. Perhaps we can get it fixed in time for Ruby 1.8.4. Please use the comments.

Ask your questions to the Rails Weenie

Rick Olson has a great service running for people with questions about Rails development. The site is called Rails Weenie and allows you to ask questions to the community in a weblog-style fashion and then receive responses as comments. There’s already a lot of good content on there.

Creator of Blinksale and IconBuffet interviewed

GodBit has an interview with Scott Raymond about his use of Ruby on Rails in Blinksale and IconBuffet. I particularly enjoyed this bit about the opinionated software:

If you pay attention when you’re using Rails, you can hear its authorial voice. The Rails community calls the notion “opinionated software,” and people either love it or hate it. I love it. For me, working on Rails is sort of like having really smart, like-minded coworkers. It is inspiring, motivating and energizing.

ThoughtWorks wins big contract on Rails

Obie Fernandez has a great story on how ThoughtWorks recently won a $800,000 bid for a critical application against another consultancy. They probably do that all the time, but the interesting part about this particular bid is that they made it powered by Ruby on Rails. The other consultancy bid a million dollars for a Java-based system, but the CIO picked the Rails solution from ThoughtWorks.

So saving $200,000 was obviously a big advantage of the Rails bid, but more interesting is the second-level concerns. Obie writes:

Analysts from Gartner and Forrester and even members of his personal grapevine are all abuzz about Ruby… Ruby may not be a corporate standard (yet), but don’t even get him started on his organization’s dismal track record building J2EE applications… The risk of late delivery is much, much scarier to him than proceeding with a relatively unproven technology that the whole world seems to be talking about as the successor to Java.

This story comes hot on the heels of Stuart Halloway’s exposure of how Rails makes it possible for his consultancy to win accounts over Java solutions due to higher productivity. As he put it:

Developers have more fun, make more money, and customers get better products cheaper and faster.


UPDATE: The story is indeed “fictional”, but with the very deep underlining of “inspired by real events”. Obie has no permission to speak on specific deals of ThoughtWorks, so names have been withheld to protect the real involved parties and the exact figures, estimates, and so on.

.NET'ers tell Scoble why they left for Rails

Microsoft’s Robert Scoble is concerned about the exodus of developers like Phil Ripperger that are leaving .NET for Ruby on Rails. Phil put it like this:

Scoble, as a web developer who is now doing freelance work for a living, my framework of choice is Ruby on Rails. Mostly for the reasons listed here. And also because Microsoft’s web development technologies have lost their appeal. I can remember being blown away by ASP.NET when I first saw it. I now feel even more strongly about Rails. And when I talk to businesses and friends who are developers, I make sure they know about Rails.

Sure, I know about the new Visual Studio, ASP.NET 2.0, the new SharePoint, and the new SQL Server. And I just don’t care. Microsoft needs to capture some of the 360 magic and use it on their web development technology or they will continue to lose developers like me.

Scoble is inviting people to tell him and Microsoft why .NET and family just isn’t doing it for them any more. If you have a good story to share, do let them know.