Marc Hughes

I am a developer from a bit west of Boston.

Quick web-dev environment found.

28 Mar 2009

A while back, I was trying out cold fusion to see if it could become my new "quickly get a website up and running" environment.  I was pretty dissapointed with it.  The speed / power / ease tradeoffs just didn't feel like they were in the right place.  Ever since then I've been using a pretty standard J2EE solution.  While I'm quite happy with how that works out, I really wish I had something faster to develop quick ideas with.

Yesterday, I spent about half the day learning / working with ruby on rails.  In that half-day I wrote a simple web application for a content editor I've been working on that:

  1. Allows a user to create "lessons"
  2. Allows the user to tag those lessons and search based on tags (with a nifty Ajax interface)
  3. Writes the lessons out into our version control system (with an index in a db)
  4. Allows the user to launch a Flex application (which I had already written) to actually preview or edit the lesson through a REST api
Now, if I had been working in my J2ee environment, I bet I could have written it in about the same amount of time.  BUT, with RoR I also had to
  1. Set up a development environment
  2. Learn enough ruby on rails to get this done
  3. Figure out how to actually use TextMate well
So overall, I think next time I could have written this thing in just an hour or two, which is pretty damned amazing, even for such a small application.

I'm not sure whether or not I'd go the J2EE or the RoR route if I was just starting a large complex site, but for small simple things, RoR is my choice for now on.

Oh, for books, I had grabbed the OReilly ruby book and Sitepoint's "Simply Rails 2".  The ruby book is great, really explains the language well.  The rails books is really just walking you through one example without a lot of "why" so I'm pretty dissapointed with it.  It wasn't enough for me to build this simple example and I relied on google for a lot, but it was enough for me to understand what rails could do for me and to figure out what I should search for.


Spent 3 more hours with it today and added:

  1. Account creation / signup
  2. Authentication (Login / Logout)
  3. A comment system to let people comment on lessons in progress
  4. An audit log for all changes done to a lesson
RoR rocks my socks.