Rails for designers

Kevin Clark has written up Rails for designers, an intro to Rails directed at designers which focuses on the parts and concepts of the framework that are of most immediate relevance to a designer. The tutorial gets designers oriented and ready to find, edit and use an application’s templates. From layouts, to ERb, to partials and instance variables, this tutorial will get designers up and running in no time. If you are thinking of doing a Rails project, you could do a lot worse than having your designers start with this tutorial. Thanks for the primer Kevin.

Rails 1.1: Release Candidate 1 available

It’s been roughly three months since the release of the big one-oh. That’s obviously an eternity in Rails time, so its about high time we’re getting ready for the release for 1.1. And boy, is this an exciting upgrade!

I do believe this is the biggest upgrade to Rails we’ve ever done. We have recorded about 500 fixes, tweaks, and new features in the changelogs. That’s a lot and that’s just counting major new features like RJS as one.

So with all these goodies, we want to make sure we launch without any obvious blunders or backwards compatibility breaking changes. This is why we’re doing a release candidate and why we need your help to test it.

Rails 1.1 is supposed to be just fully backwards compatible with 1.0, but we did change just a couple of defaults, see CHANGED DEFAULT notes in the changelogs. That means we want to test Rails 1.1 with as many 1.0 applications as possible.

To install the release candidate gems, you just need to do:

gem install rake
gem install rails --source http://gems.rubyonrails.org

Or you can just install the new Rake gem (Rails 1.1 depends on Rake 0.7) and then call rake freeze_edge. That’ll pull the latest Rails down from the Subversion repository and bind just that one application to it.

Or you can set svn:externals on vendor/ to be against http://dev.rubyonrails.org/svn/rails/tags/rel_1-1-0_RC1, if you want to pull it in through Subversion automatically.

Lots of options, no excuses. We really need your help to make sure the final release is as solid as Rails 1.0 was. And so we don’t need 1.1.1 two days later.

Once you have the latest Rails installed, you can do rake rails:update to get the latest scripts and the latest version of Prototype and script.aculo.us installed in public/javascripts. That’s about all the upgrading you need to do to existing applications.

Do note, though, that all plugins may not be upgraded to be compatible with Rails 1.1. Or you may indeed just have an old version of a plugin that has been updated. Keep an eye out for that.

If you’re wondering why to even bother with Rails 1.1, Scott Raymond currently has the best play-by-play overview of what’s new. We’ll be adding to that with more walkthroughs and hopefully movies around release time.

If you need more documentation, I strongly encourage you to pick up Chad Fowler’s Rails Recipe book. It’s currently out in its 3rd beta release and includes a bunch of great recipes on the new 1.1 features. Including RJS, polymorphic associations (and how to do better tagging with them), join models, integration testing, and more. You can get it as a PDF right now for $21.50.

So help us help you. Test Rails 1.1 with your existing applications. Try building new stuff with it. And let us know if something breaks in the process. We will be taking care of all heinous bugs before release. Thank you all!

Rails Training Coast to Coast (and beyond)

Mike and Dave are mobilizing their perpetually sold out Pragmatic Rails Studio again. This time, they’re hitting both coasts of the USA.

First in Portland on April 10 followed by Boston on May 11.

These session have sold out every time, so don’t miss your chance.

For those in Europe or the United Kingdom, Geoff Grosenbach will be doing a one-day Rails workshop in London on March 30 followed by me on April 10 with a four day workshop in London and Rails Core member Marcel Molina, Jr. with a five-day Rails Bootcamp in near Frankfurt, Germany.

Quick PDF generation with RTex

Bruce Williams of Naviance recently announced his RTex plugin. It exposes your controller data to rtex views that output LaTeX which is convereted to PDF.

To install you can use the plugin script:

ruby script/plugin install rtex

Or grab it from svn:

svn co http://codefluency.com/svn/codefluency/rails/plugins/rtex

People have used PDF::Writer to generated .rpdf views. Why go through LaTex to get to PDF rather than use PDF::Writer? Speed, says Bruce.

i5labs pushing the limits of Rails

In November, PlanetMoon launched Infected, a first-person shooter game for Playstation Portable. The PSP game has two-pieces, one, the actual PSP game (which is C++), and a statistics reporting tool (how many kills did you get, how many people did you infect, where in the world are they). Any time someone wants to grab their stats, it kicks in the PSP Web Browser, which points to a Ruby on Rails server. The team behind this is Jason Wong’s i5labs. Jason blogs about some of the challenges of working within the constraints of PSP console.

i5labs also just finished a Zubio chair massage kiosk at the San Francisco Shopping Center. You schedule 10 or 20 minute massage sessions using a touchscreen, then swipe your credit card. The touchscreen system is implemented with Rails. Jason shares details of the code and hardware.

i5labs is also looking to hire a part time Ruby on Rails developer (who could eventually go full time). If you’re interested drop them a note at jobs@i5labs.com.

We’ve seen the limits of Rails pushed before, when Mike Clark and James Duncan Davidson mixed Rails with Cocoa with VitalSource. Anyone else using Rails outside of the traditional web context?

Ruby/Rails in the Valley: the Silicon Valley Ruby Conference

David Black sends along this note about the upcoming Silicon Valley Ruby Conference, which features Rails core’s own Marcel Molina Jr. and Jeremy Kemper:

Ruby Central is a name you can trust in conferences (RubyConf and
RailsConf), and now Ruby Central has teamed up with SDForum to present

Silicon Valley Ruby Conference April 22-23, 2006 http://www.sdforum.org/rubyreg

The impetus for this event was SDForum’s interest in producing a top-notch conference with a regional focus but with broad Ruby/Rails
appeal. SDForum asked Ruby Central to co-produce the event, and
the Silicon Valley Ruby Conference is the result.

Who should attend this conference? Everyone who didn’t get into
RailsConf. Plus, everyone who DID get into RailsConf! Don’t let the
subtle marketing fool you: this is one of the major Ruby/Rails events
of the year.

Speakers include:

and many others.

Questions? Contact David Black (dblack@rubycentral.org).