Posted by Antonio Cangiano,
July 11, 2008 @ 9:05 pmin
Welcome to the third edition of This Week in Rails, a weekly report with highlights from the Rails community. My apologies for the delay of this post, the past two weeks have been pretty crazy, so this edition covers the most interesting articles and news from the past two weeks.
Let’s kick off this report with a couple of maintenance releases by Jamis Buck. Both Capistrano 2.4.3 and Net::SSH 2.0.3 were published two weeks ago. If you use them, consider upgrading.
Rails 2.1 has been out for a while now, but in case you didn’t have a chance to catch up yet, this post collects several links to useful resources which will help bring you up-to-date.
The same Noel also published the second part of “Developing iPhone applications using Ruby on Rails and Eclipse” for DeveloperWorks (part 1
FiveRuns released a valuable gem called data_fabric which adds support for sharding and replication to Active Record. The same company also has a contest up and they’re offering two free tickets to RailsConf Europe in Berlin. Speaking of conferences, Fabio Akita announced that there will be a Rails Summit Brazil 2008 this coming October in São Paulo. This will be the first event of its kind for the Rails community in South America.
An improved version (i.e. 1.1.1) of the Oracle enhanced adapter was released, as well as version 0.9.5 of the IBM_DB adapter for DB2 and Informix, which adds support for Rails 2.1.
There hasn’t been much of note in terms of big changes or features in edge Rails lately, so this time I’ll leave you to pore over the Rails commit logs for any bug fixes or minor changes that I haven’t pointed out. There has been some work in progress with ActionPack refactoring and multithreading work as well as some activity in ActiveModel too, but nothing really concrete yet (still very much a work in progress).
As usual, be sure to leave any suggestions and criticisms in the comments.
Thin support with script/server
script/server now checks for the availability of Thin and uses it. Pretty convenient if you are using Thin as your production server (and want to run the same when developing). You’ll have to add config.gem 'thin' to your environment.rb first to get this to work.
This patch was contributed by one of the guys at fluxin.
Sometimes this doesn’t work out so well though, when you have legacy tables or simply “inhumanely” named column names like “act_sal_money” (which is really “Actor salary”, but would be #humanize-d to “Act Sal Money”).
You can now specify custom inflection rules (just like you would for plural/singular/irregular/uncountable inflection rules):
Inflector.inflections do |inflect|
inflect.human /_cnt$/, '\1_count'
inflect.human 'act_sal_money', 'Actor Salary'
Notice how you can also use a regular expression above to convert columns like “click_cnt” to “Click count”.
Posted by Antonio Cangiano,
June 25, 2008 @ 11:45 pmin
Welcome to the second edition of This Week in Rails, a weekly report with highlights from the Rails community.
As previously reported by Jeremy Kemper, serious vulnerabilities have been discovered for the main Ruby implementations. The official advisory suggests an upgrade path, but there have been several reports of segmentation faults when using Rails with the patched Ruby 1.8.5 and 1.8.6 versions. The Phusion team has published a patch for Ruby 1.8.6-p111, but as things stand now, it hasn’t been included by the Ruby core team (yet).
If you are using Rails 2.1, Ruby 1.8.7-p22 seems the way to go. Unfortunately, Ruby 1.8.7 is not compatible with previous versions of Rails. If you decide that it’s time to upgrade your applications to Rails 2.1, this article features some handy tips, while this other one warns you about a few gotchas.
Those of you who’re running a version of Ruby that shipped with Mac OS X should wait for the next Apple’s Software Update.
Last week Jim Neath published a nice overview which compares jQuery with Prototype, and provides information about using jQuery with Rails through the jRails plugin.
Rails 2.1 adds named scopes, which greatly simplify writing “find logic” within your Active Record models. It’s an extremely useful feature which is well explained in this write-up aptly titled, Named Scopes Are Awesome (we agree). Checkout also Ryan Bates’ railscasts on the subject: named_scope and Anonymous Scopes. You may also be interested in this week’s railscast about Caching in Rails 2.1.
Michael Bleigh published a tutorial about dealing with subdomains in Rails applications through the SubdomainFu plugin (which appears to be flexible and very straightforward to use).
XP programming practices such as Test-Driven Development are very popular within the Rails community, but there are still many developers who see testing as a chore. Josh Nichols wrote an overview called A walk through of test-driven development with shoulda that shows you how easy it is to apply TDD to your Rails projects. In this specific case, he adopted the Shoulda plugin which seamlessly adds some assertions, helpers and macros on top of the Test::Unit framework.
Aside from api.rubyonrails.org there are manyalternatives for quickly visualizing the documentation of the Rails’ API. Last week a new one was launched: rails-doc.org. The current version features rapid searches and user annotations. This last feature in particular has the potential to become truly useful.
The RecordIdentifier has been sped up by some simple use of memo-ization, thus reducing the number of inflections performed, among other things. The RecordIdentifier is used widely in cache keys, partial template paths, and in most places where you identify an ActiveRecord model without caring about its actual id.
Posted by Jeremy Kemper,
June 21, 2008 @ 12:57 amin
Drew Yao at Apple uncovered a handful of nasty security vulnerabilities affecting all current versions of Ruby. The details are still under wraps because an attacker can DoS you or possibly execute arbitrary code — holy crap! Better upgrade sooner than later.
Posted by Chu Yeow,
June 20, 2008 @ 2:05 pmin
As Gregg Pollack mentioned a week or so ago, I’ll be keeping a weekly-or-so column about noteworthy changes on edge Rails. This is the first time Living on the Edge (of Rails) is appearing on the official Ruby on Rails weblog, so you’ll have to bear with my short introduction.
Living on the Edge is a weekly column I used to put up on my own blog after some prodding by Gregg Pollack of Rails Envy way back in December of 2007. I used to be a rather active Rails contributor back then so it was a no-brainer. Gregg and Jason were awesome enough to feature it weekly in their podcast.
And now it’s here, so try your best to be a tough crowd so I can tune these blog posts so that they are actually useful to you – when I was blogging these on my tiny personal blog it wasn’t that vital but now the audience is significantly larger. Leave your suggestions and criticisms in the comments – they are greatly appreciated!
Anyway, there’s been a ton of new features, API changes and performance improvements in the past 2 weeks or so since Rails 2.1 was released, so rather than dumping all into one mega-post, I’ve decided to break it into 2 posts for new features/API changes and performance improvements. In this post, I’m gonna talk about some of the new features and API changes.
Minor API changes
Let’s start jump straight in with some minor API changes.
link_to now takes a block
The link_to helper now takes a block argument for those occasions when you have really long hyperlink text with variables in them:
<% link_to(@profile) do %>
<strong><%= @profile.name %></strong> -
<span>Status: <%= @profile.status %></span>
<% end %>
Association macros now accept a :validate option like so:
class Anime > ActiveRecord::Base
has_many :characters, :validate => true
This tells ActiveRecord to validate the characters association when saving your Anime model – just like how :validates_associated works. The default is false, which is the current behavior in Rails 2.1 and earlier, so no need to fret. This works for all the other association macros as well (has_one, belongs_to, has_and_belongs_to_many).
Thumbs up to Jan De Poorter and Pratik Naik for this, which also fixes a nasty bug.
An immediate use of this is when you are checking the environment your app is running in: Rails.env is wrapped in a StringInquirer so you can use query methods like Rails.env.development? and Rails.env.production?.
Jeremy Kemper has been hard at work optimizing and improving the performance of Rails, so it’s no surprise that he has also introduced a new type of integration test: the performance test.
You can use the performance test generator (added by Pratik in 23232a) to generate a performance test stub.
script/generate performance_test LoginStories
Running the performance test requires ruby-prof >= 0.6.1, which is still unreleased but you can get at it the development version by checking out the source and installing the gem yourself (I suggest you get Jeremy’s fork of ruby-prof for now). It’s interesting to note that with the 0.6.1 release, ruby-prof supports profiling tests cases written using Test::Unit.
Moving on… Put in some test code (request a few controller actions – whatever user story you want to test performance of) and run the test. You’ll get output like this (together with the usual ruby-prof profiling output in the test/tmp/performance directory of your Rails app):
> ruby performance/login_stories_test.rb
Loaded suite performance/login_stories_test
LoginStoriesTest#test_homepage (32 ms warmup)
process_time: 11 ms
Finished in 0.870842 seconds.
The memory and objects results are “unsupported” because I haven’t patched my Ruby interpreter for memory profiling support. You’d need certain Ruby interpreter patches to enable memory and GC profiling. I wish I could tell you more about how to do so, but I’m treading unfamiliar ground here. There are some details here on how to patch Ruby for memory profiling. I leave it for wiser folks to explain how to do this :)
That’s it so far for new feature/API changes in Rails since Rails 2.1 – performance improvements are coming up in the next post and I’ve also intentionally left out mention of the Rack support that has been partially merged into edge.
If there were any errors or you have any suggestions on how to make this column better, please point them out in the comments. Any info on patching your Ruby interpreter for memory profiling support is also greatly welcome. If I’ve left out anything that I’d considered not noteworthy enough but you disagree, let me know in the comments too.
Posted by Gregg Pollack,
June 18, 2008 @ 1:15 pmin
There are several Ruby / Rails related conferences coming up in the next few months. Some of these are smaller regional conferences, and some of them are larger conferences which have their own Ruby tracks. If you know of any additional events, please comment and I’ll add them to this list.
Posted by Antonio Cangiano,
June 16, 2008 @ 9:40 pmin
This is the first edition of This Week in Rails. As announced by Gregg Pollack a few days ago, this weekly column will cover highlights from the Rails community. My aim is to provide you with a status update as if you’d gone on holidays for a week. I will try to be consistent and publish once a week on Sunday or Monday. Being my first shot, I’ll rely on your feedback to verify that I’m on the right track and that this is useful to you; so please feel free to express your opinion in the comment section below.
With Rails 2.1 out, most developers are looking forward to upgrading their skills (and projects) to the latest release. If you’re one of them, I strongly recommend that you check out the second edition of Carlos Brando’s Ruby on Rails 2.1 – What’s new free e-book, which is available in both English and Portuguese, with an Italian translation currently in the works as well. You can also read Rob Anderton’s excellent overview of Rails 2.1’s improved caching capabilities, as well as its built-in support for memcached.
Last week, Phusion announced the first release candidate of Passenger 2.0 (aka mod_rails). This release introduces support for Rack, opening the door to alternative web frameworks as well. In the same announcement, Ruby Enterprise Edition was formally released. Despite the “Enterprise” label, this is a fully Open Source version of Ruby whose main claim is a reduced memory footprint on Linux and Mac OS X.
Speaking of Enterprise, Dr Nic has released version 1.0.2 of his Composite Primary Keys gem. Starting from version 1.0.0 it finally catches up with Active Record 2.1. Erubis, the fast alternative to ERB, has rolled out support for Rails 2.1 as well, in their 2.6.1 version. A week later, version 2.6.2 was released and it includes support for Ruby 1.9 as well. You can install it by running gem install erubis or by downloading it from RubyForge.
Last week Ryan Bates put out another two Railscasts. The first is about how to contribute to Rails using Git and is, needless to say, highly recommended. The second one is in regards to substituting pagination with the effect of endless scrolling, like DZone does. As pointed out, there are plugins that do this, but Ryan’s approach builds it from scratch and is definitely worth checking out.
In conclusion, two announcements were previously reported in this blog, but they are both worth repeating. The first is the release of Capistrano 2.4 and the second is that registration has opened up for RailsConf Europe 2008. The conference will be held in Berlin, Germany from the 2nd to the 4th of September. By registering before July 15th, you can save up to 150 euros.
That’s it for this week. As you can see there is no shortage of material, given that we’re such an active community. If you’d like to read more updates from the Ruby side of things, please head over to This Week in Ruby.
Posted by jamis,
June 13, 2008 @ 4:14 pmin
Capistrano 2.4.0 is now available. Capistrano is the deployment tool of choice for many Rails programmers, but can be used for much more, allowing you to automate remote tasks using a simple task-oriented framework in Ruby.
Posted by David,
June 10, 2008 @ 2:12 pmin
RailsConf Europe has opened the doors for registration. The conference is returning to Berlin, Germany from September 2nd through 4th. If you register before July 15th, you can save up to 150 euros.
Considering what a blow-out success we had at RailsConf in Portland just a few weeks ago, it’s hard not to be pretty darn excited about setting up in Berlin and extending that good atmosphere across the pond. Berlin was a great spot in September last year as well.
So I’m looking forward to meeting up with more from the European Rails communities. Hopefully the very large Danish delegation will make it down this year as well :).