Rolling with Ruby on Rails, Part 2

Curt Hibbs has invaded O’Reilly’s once more to follow up on his hugely popular (and Slashdot linked) article Rolling with Ruby on Rails. In this second part, he expands on the recipe application by adding additional manipulation tools and categories. The end of the article also contains a summary of the many Rails success stories and a peek at the many features Curt doesn’t have time to go into.

While Curt took a lot of flak for claiming Rails to be a silver bullet, it doesn’t seem to slow him down. In the conclusion, he writes:

Rails is not your run-of-the-mill, proof-of-concept web framework. It is the next level in web programming, and the developers who use it will make web applications faster than those who don’t; single developers can be as productive as whole teams. Best of all, it’s available right now, under an MIT license.

I believe that there hasn’t been an improvement in productivity like this in recent programming history.

Agile Web Development with Rails in July

It has been made official. The title of the first Rails book is going to be Agile Web Development with Rails and its currently being written by Dave Thomas. A small group of reviewers, including yours truly, have been reviewing the first chapters as they come of Dave’s printing fingers already. And it’s looking mighty good!

A few choice bits from the introduction to the book:

You’ll see how easy it is to install Rails using your web server of choice (such as Apache or lighttpd) or using its own included web server. You’ll be writing applications that work with your favorite database (MySQL, Oracle, Postgres, and more) in no time at all.

You’ll create a complete online store application in the extended tutorial section, so you’ll see how a full Rails application is developed—-iteratively and rapidly.

Rails is the framework of choice for the new generation of Web 2.0 developers.

Scratch: The minimalist's weblog

Scratch is a very interesting weblog package by Scott Barron (and with help from Sam Stephenson) that shuns any HTML interface:

Scratch is the minimalist’s web log. Scratch gives you nothing more than the meta-weblog API for posting. Reading is done via Atom or RSS. That’s it. There’s no HTML to hack up. You don’t have to use the same, tired old web log template that everyone else is using. Break out of that blue, rounded rectangle! Be original! Thumb your nose at those primitive apes still using the web! Use Scratch! Scratch can also serve as a framework for developing your own weblog package, if that’s the way you roll.

Scratch is available as a gem (just gem install scratch) and the source from SVN (it uses the new Action Web Service framework).

Rails 0.10 on lighttpd without scaffolding video

Matt Moriarity has managed to do something I’ve been pledging for a long time: Record an updated video for Rails 0.10 using lighttpd and not“cheating” by using scaffolding. Very cool. He builds a small weblog all by hand and even stops to comment on the approach in text throughout.

Check it out Moriarity’s excellent video: Site 1, Site 2

I mistakenly attributed this to Stian Grytøyr in the original post. Sorry about that, Matt

Another tale about Rails scaling

TJ Vanderpoel is currently preparing a case study on how he scaled his mortgage processing application with a single lighttpd web server powered by a cluster of FastCGI application servers. All using Ruby on Rails. But as a counterpoint to the latest round of FUD’ing, he posted this preliminary tale about how his company is scaling Rails:

As far as scalability, apache with fcgi certainly isn’t the best option, for rails. In our environment we have one lighttpd process serving requests in a round-robin fashion from 10 to 100 fastcgi rails listeners. We move anywhere from 300 req/second to 1000 req/second with a dual opteron webserver and the fastcgi listeners can be well in back of the webserver. The only feature i’d like to see added to lighttpd is to be able to add fastcgi listeners on the fly, currently you have to restart the webserver to add listeners. Nonetheless, if you’d talked to rails developers you’d have learned lighttpd is the recommended hosting platform for production applications, as it takes care of many of the speed, and all of the scalability issues.

Vanderpoel should be ready with the full case study on his scaling adventure later this week.

Four Days on Rails

John McCreesh has published a great new 30+ paged tutorials for getting started with Rails entitled Four Days on Rails.

Rails is well documented on-line; in fact, possibly too well documented for beginners, with over 30,000 words of on-line documentation in the format of a reference manual. What’s missing is a roadmap (railmap?) pointing to the key pages that you need to know to get up and running in Rails development… Four Days on Rails is designed to fill that gap.

McCreesh’s has his own site for the book, but I’ve also taken the liberty to do a mirror for the book.

"What the fuck are we gonna do now?!"

Master: “Hmmm. The argument on programmer productivity seems to be lost..”
Apprentice: “It’s game over, man. Just game over! What the fuck are we gonna do now?!”
Master: “You are mistaken, young one. There is always the ace: claim it can’t scale!”

Matt Raible caught the glimpse of a good headline and ran with it: Rails is 8 times slower than Spring+Hibernate. The honorable source of this “fact” comes from “rix” — a commenter on one of Dion’s post (ironically enough railing on this kind of silliness). He has done “extensive performance testing”, but of course doesn’t care to reveal his method, the apps compared, or the hardware setup used.

With this he concludes that Rails isn’t deserving of its attention and that he would rather develop with “…deployment descriptors! And verbose crap. And repetition.” Hehe. I don’t know where to start. Or even if I should. Perhaps other than to say that whenever Microsoft attempts to pull meaningless FUD like this, we call them on it.

Do note that I don’t doubt Java to be faster, I’m objecting to the silliness of publicizing and promoting figures with no context and to draw conclusions from these figures

RubyGems 0.8.6 fixes critical error

So now that you just upgraded to RubyGems 0.8.5, please do so again to 0.8.6. The 0.8.5 version contained a bad bug that would render the rails command to create a new skeleton setup useless. Thankfully, the process is even easier than last time. Just one command: gem update --system.

Rails book slated for late-summer release

Dave Thomas is busy writing the first Rails book and has been making great progress lately. In his blog post Quite a Week For Rails, he says:

I’ve actually finished enough of my new Rails book that I’ve released some chapters to a wonderful panel of reviewers (no more needed right now, thanks). I’m starting to get happy about the way this book is turning out—I’m looking forward to a late-summer release.

The book is naturally to be published by The Pragmatic Bookshelf and distributed by O’Reilly.

Get a life-time TextDrive for $399

TextDrive is our wonderful host. They’re contributing big time to the development of Rails and are up to date with the latest (like exploring lighttpd as an Apache alternative). They’ve won the heart of many big-time Railers, like the Pragmatic Programmers, Scott Barron, Marten Veldthuis, and many others.

Now they’re offering you a limited opportunity of a life-time account for just $399. The drive is called VC II and is a very interesting way to allow users to expand the company’s ambitions by getting something in return and keeping foreign capitals (and the onslaught of strings attached) out.

Better be quick, though. The last drive they did sold out in no time fast.