Rails Day: Make an application in 24 hours and win!

Since Rails is supposedly this über-productive bag of lightning bolts, you should be able to accomplish great things within a single clip of 24 hours, right? That’s the assumption Rails Day is setting out to prove. A competition to build something meaningful, cool, neat, and/or beautiful that’ll be judged by a panel of experts including yours truly and Dave Thomas.

There’s even a great give-away happening. The best applications can win an Apple Mac Mini (courtesy of the ever-fantastic TextDrive— are you signed up yet?), an iPod Mini from the crew at Odeo, 6 books from the Pragmatic Bookshelf, lifetime Basecamp basic subscription, and more. It’s a true shower of gifts.

The whole shebang is going down on June 4th. Read more at Railsday.com.

Portland Rails presentation draws full house

Lucas Carlson talks about how Portland is turning into a power zone for Rails development and how great his presentation there went last night:

Last night I gave a presentation about Rails to what was supposed to be the local Perl mongers and Ruby group. Usually, between 6-10 people show up to either meeting, so I was expecting 20-25 people. But Rails pulled people out of the cracks and the turnout was around 50 people.

Overall, the crowd seemed very happy and excited, many oooos and ahhhhs. A lot of people emailed me afterwards saying that they were planning on starting their first Rails sites.

You should get involved with your local Java, Perl, Python, or PHP user groups too. Let the rhetoric take a back seat for a little while and show your fellow programmers what it is we have here in Ruby on Rails land. No reason hoggin all the tool toys for yourself. Sharing is so much more fun.

RForum 0.1 sees the light of day

RForum is one of the earliest open source applications based on Rails, but it has only just reached a state where the authors Andreas Schwarz and Alexey Verkhovsky were willing to share with the world. Hence, the release of RForum 0.1.

Congratulations on the release. With the project out in the open, we’ll hopefully more rapid improvement towards a 1.0 release.

Instiki 0.10.0 comes on the Rails

Alexey Verkhovsky has completed the transition of Instiki to a Rails-based core that uses the latest versions of all the framework instead of the ‘03 dialects it was currently running. Instiki is still powered by Madeleine, though. Which means that it’ll be some time yet before you can run Instiki on Apache or lighttpd directly as a move to Active Record or a separate Madeleine process is needed for that to happen.

The new version should be a lot more approachable for Rails hackers, though. And its also a pretty good case of how to use Rails with something else than a database backend. Dig in!

Contrasting scaling in J2EE and Rails/FastCGI

Jon Tirsen has taken a closer look at the differences between the threaded scaling approach in J2EE and using Rails with FastCGI. While the former requires object pools, induces thread-safety concerns, and other complications, the FastCGI approach remains dead simple from the application programmers perspective:

This means that each process can pre-allocate one single database connection (for each database that it talks to). There are no issues of multi-threading as each process processes only one request at a time. No objects needs to be written to handle multi-threading, as there is just one single thread per process. Expensive resources doesn’t need to be allocated in pools and application code doesn’t need to return the resources once done with them. Complicated non-blocking IO solutions or muxer/demuxer architectures doesn’t need to be used. You can even allocate FastCGI processes on multiple physical nodes, effectively implementing a cluster. In high-security situations a double-firewall security architecture can be set up so that the web-server is protected by one and the back-end FastCGI servers are protected by an additional one.

A peek at the additional Ajaxing coming in 0.11.2

The pursuit of Ajax nirvana with Rails is marching ahead with breath-taking haste. Thomas Fuchs has compiled a demonstration page of all the effects that we’ve added to the package. Web applications are soon going to be hot on the heels of the GUI goodness we’ve grown accustomed to with OS X.

But not content to show of the effects, Thomas has also recorded two impressive movies demoing the upcoming support for both auto-completion form fields and for an upload progress bar (which he has been working on together with Sean Treadway).

Thomas has been a driving force behind most of the new effects and the two fantastically cool abstractions of complete approaches. Are you looking to hire someone to inject the good mood of Ajax into your application? Then Thomas is at the forefront of that pack.

Read more from him on his weblog mir.aculo.us.

Allowing developers to use the tools they love

Hank Roar is the customer on a project being developed by ThoughtWorker Obie. He’s quite pleased with the progress:

Never under estimate the importance of allowing developers to use the tools they love. I don’t personally know Obie well, but I think he feels passionate about Ruby and Rails. This, coupled with the fact that the simulators will not go to my ultimate users, has resulted in the simulators being fun to use, not just simple data entry forms. The executive sponsor was very impressed with the simulator. I think the sponsor really enjoyed how much fun it was to use.

Snippets meets tagging

Peter Cooper has just launched Snippets. It’s a paste site that injects the wonderful idea of tagging into the mix. Peter announced it with:

Less than two days ago I had an idea. I come across lots of useful snippets of code for the command line, Perl, Ruby, HTML, CSS, whatever, and store them in a big text file. This was hard to organize, so I figured it’d make sense to store them in a del.icio.us style tagged system.

So off I set, and some 28 hours later (including sleep), the system is launched! Welcome to Snippets. Enjoy. More proof of the power of Rails!

Another Rails consultant breaks out on his own

Congratulations to Scott Barron for pursuing the life of the independent consultant. Especially so, of course, because he’ll be doing it as a Ruby on Rails specialist. We already have a good handful of people following that round with great success. People like Tobias Luekte and Jeremy Kemper are overloaded with requests for work.

So basically, we need more warm bodies to follow up on all the leads we’re seeing. Now is definitely a good time to build a name for yourself in the Rails world and start staking your claim to the many opportunities bubbling up.

The best way to demonstrate your skills as a Ruby on Rails consultant worth his salt is to get intimate with the source, start contributing patches (we have lots of faults to hunt down if you need an easy way in), and create a fully functional showcase application.

Scott is doing Elite Journal, Scratch, Recipe Box, and Elite Album. Tobias is cooking with Hieraki and Typo. Sam is behind the Javascript-engine Prototype for the new Ajax stuff.

In other words, it’s a brave new world of opportunities. The streets a covered with gold and honey is raining from the sky. Fortune and fame awaits. If we had the tech for it, there would be a flying billboard saying:

A new life awaits you in the off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure

The time is now!

(How’s that for an enthusiastic rally cry)