This Week in Ruby (April 7, 2008)

The first edition of This Week in Ruby received a warm welcome from the community. A week later, here we are with a second installment of the series. I’ll attempt to repeat these posts approximately every week, so feel free to follow along by subscribing to my feed.

The Ruby community is a tremendously active one. In only seven days, there have been so many noteworthy items popping up, that it would take me hours just to mention them all. I’ll try to pretend that you, the reader, have been on a week-long vacation in a remote place without internet access, and on your return you asked me, “Hey, Antonio what happened in Ruby and Rails land while I was away?”

Some fun on April Fools’ Day

We kicked off the week on a lighthearted note, by fully embracing the endless opportunities offered by April Fools’ Day. Most of the spoofs and jokes were aimed at making fun of Ruby on Rails, one way or another. Testimony to the self-irony that we, as a community, certainly have. I personally announced the soon-to-arrive release of a fictitious (of course) framework called Ruby on Crack. Which was supposedly much faster and productive than Rails. At the heart of the joke were the fake endorsements, chocked full of double-meanings (with apologies to Matz, David Heinemeier Hansson, Dave Thomas, Ezra Zygmuntowicz, Obie Fernandez, Zed Shaw, Tim O’Reilly, Guido van Rossum and Paul Graham). I found the SQL on Rails April Fools’ gag very funny and extremely elaborate. Their screencast is comedic genius and their site a spoof in every minute detail. In my book, on that day, they took the cake. The joke itself was from two years ago (as pointed out by a commenter below) but it resurfaced again this year. The hilarious trend continued with Cobol on Cogs and for the ASP.NET and PHP nostalgic, with Acts as ASP.NET and RHAP (Ruby Ain’t Hypertext Preprocessor). Avdi Grimm even found the final solution to the whole Monkey-patching diatribe: Ninja-Patching, “When you really want to catch a coder by surprise, a monkey doesn’t cut it. What you need is a Ninja.”. 🙂


Last week I mentioned Passenger (aka mod_rails). This week Hongli Lai published some interesting benchmarks that compared it against Mongrel and Thin for three Rails applications (Typo, Petstore and El Dorado). While still synthetic benchmarks, the results where very encouraging and showed how Passenger was on average faster than Mongrel and roughly on par with Thin. Even just the perspective of having performances that are somewhat comparable with those of Mongrel, would be great news, given that it’d highly simplify the deployment process of Rails applications with Apache. Ninh Bui has announced that the official release date for the project is expected sometime this week and that meanwhile they are working with companies like Twitter and Dreamhost to ensure that the module is fully tested. Speed is only one of the project’s aims in fact, with a lot of focus put on stability and robustness, too. They also caught the attention of Engine Yard who is interested in discussing a possible partnership and contributions to the Rubinius project.


By now you should be aware that the Rails community is fully embracing Git, and is only part of the reason. Michael Bleigh has even created a small library called ruby-github to simplify access to the GitHub API. David has announced that Rails is moving to Git and the ticket tracking system is being switched over to Lighthouse. As David pointed out, this means that both the tracking system and version control are to be run by Rails applications, which is a good bonus if you subscribe to the philosophy of “eating your own dog food”. For those who are still git-challenged, Kurt Schrader has a collection of helpful links to get you started. And if you need a simple issue tracker for git, version 0.1.2 of Ditz has just been released, too.


Confreaks has now published the remaining videos from MountainWest RubyConf 2008. They’re very interesting and highly recommended. All of them.

In case you missed the Ruby Fools conference, held on April 1st and 2nd in Copenhagen, you can read an interesting personal account by 41Concepts. The conference also took place on April 3rd and 4th in Oslo.

Speaking of conferences, Sam Ruby will be presenting on Ruby 1.9 at this year’s OSCON. In a recent short post, he mentioned his plans for his talk and really nailed one of the problems that will hinder Ruby 1.9’s adoption, in his own words:

My tentative conclusion at this point based on observations of efforts to get products like Rails working on Ruby 1.9: the biggest obstacle to Ruby 1.9’s adoption is the sheer number of mostly working but essentially unmaintained gems that virtually everybody in the Ruby community depends on. — Sam Ruby


Amazon has an article on Using SimpleDB and Rails in No Time with ActiveResource. Another interesting article which surfaced this week was a post called simple pages for easily creating “boiler-plate” pages in Rails.

Three interesting plugins where released. You can read about them in Introducing Action Messager: Dead simple IM notifications for your app!, Better Partials Plugin for Rails and A Rails 2.0 Message Forum Plugin.

The Rails Jedi posted about two Mac OS X applications for accessing Rails docs in the most efficient way possible. and RailsBrain are real timesavers, and I highly recommend them to Mac users.

SapphireSteel has announced the Public Beta of their Visual Rails Workbench. With the release of Ruby in Steel 1.2 Beta 3, they have in fact included their drag-and-drop visual environment for Rails. I didn’t have a chance to try it out, but if you are on Windows you may want to give it a shot, starting with reading their online articles.

The ink for printing Ruby and Rails books never runs dry, as I pointed out in my post 7 soon to be released Ruby and Rails books. It turns out that in the months of April and May alone, there will be 8 new Ruby/Rails titles. Check them out, especially if you are looking for updated material relating to Rails 2 or, in the case of the pickaxe 3, to Ruby 1.9.

The guys from Rails Envy, published episode 25 of their Rails podcast. If you are not familiar with their fun podcast, I recommend that you listen to a few episodes by subscribing to it through iTunes.


There were countless interesting Ruby articles in the last week, but I’d like to point out the following:

Ruby VMs

In Rubinius for the Layman, Part 1: Rubies All the Way Down, Mathieu Martin has a nice, gentle introduction to Rubinius with some reveling benchmarks too. For those interested in learning more about the current status of Rubinius, InfoQ has a short article with a few pointers.

More remarkably, in the land of alternative Ruby VMs, Jruby 1.1 has finally been released, after months of hard work. The authors are already thinking about what lies ahead for the project. If the subject interests you, feel free to grab a few slides from various presentations on the topic.

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  1. crayz April 7, 2008
  2. crayz April 7, 2008
  3. Gregg Pollack April 7, 2008
  4. Trevor Turk April 7, 2008
  5. Richard Moriarty April 7, 2008
  6. cris.kiev April 7, 2008
  7. Antonio Cangiano April 7, 2008

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