Noel Rappin Writes Here

Pragmatic

May 6, 2010: The day of promoting stuff

Cubbies, Dropbox, JRuby, Mac, MarsEdit, Pragmatic, Rails 3, Ruby, Yehuda, xkcdNoel RappinComment

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I'll mention somebody else's book, but don't worry, I plan on doing it in a totally self-absorbed kind of way. Pragmatic released Using JRuby into beta yesterday, by the core JRuby team. Looks good, interested to see where they go with it.

Because I'm me, I can't help but compare the structure of the book with the Jython book I did. Biggest structural difference so far is that we were unable to assume a Python-savvy audience, so we felt we had to awkwardly teach Python for 100 pages at the start of the book, where as the JRuby book is able to teach Ruby in an Appendix. Good luck to the JRuby team, and I'm looking forward to seeing this one all the way through.

Book Updates



In the spirit of an old Chevy Chase routine, Rails Test Prescriptions is still on sale. There's a forum, which is still largely empty -- I'd love some feedback.

Worked on the integration and webrat/capybara chapters, cleaning them up for beta 2.

The May, 2010 issue of the PragPub is out with my article about mocking, among other, cooler stuff.

And Then...



Today was a big day for updating software I use every day. If this blog post looks extra-shiny, it's because I'm using MarsEdit 3, which I've used for every blog post I've written for several years. New stuff includes a rich text editor and better HTML syntax highlighting.

I also upgrated TextExpander and iStat Menus.

Matt Polito discovered that the Rails 3 API can be found at http://edgeapi.rubyonrails.org/. He did not know this. Neither did I. Neither did you, probably. Now we all know.

You probably do know about Rubular, which is an outstanding online tester for Ruby regular expressions. I just wanted to point out that it's really cool.

If you aren't using Dropbox, you should start right now -- it's an outstanding backup tool. (Man, I'm plugging a lot of commercial stuff today for some reason). Anyway, there's now a Ruby library for the brand-new Dropbox API.

Also from Ruby Inside, a nice overview of three newish date-time libraries. Tickle, in particular, looks handy.

And in Yehuda news, a nice overview of Ruby 1.9 and character encodings, and in a completely different mode, a jQuery plugin for using HTML 5 offline data support.

Finally...



Randall Munroe at XKCD did a big survey asking people to name colors, and the results are really cool.

Will Leitch has a new book about baseball and dads, and this excerpt from Deadspin is all about the famous 2003 Chicago Cubs playoff loss. Since I'm a Cubs fan who loves reliving painful moments, I read it. Leitch gets the flavor of the game down correctly. As a Cubs fan, what I remember most strongly about when that ball dropped, was thinking "Oh, that's how we're going to blow this game" -- the play was important mostly in getting across the idea that Weird Stuff was afoot.

April 22, 2010: Annnd We're Live. Really. I mean it this time.

Bundler, Cucumber, Pragmatic, RailsRx, YehudaNoel RappinComment

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So, about yesterday... Funny story.

Some of you may have gone to the Rails Test Prescriptions book site hoping to buy the book only to see a conspicuous lack of an "Add to Cart" button.

The book was for sale for about ten minutes, just long enough for me to start jumping up and down about it, then was pulled due to some issues with the ebook files. I heard that the famous PragProg ebook generating gerbils went on strike, but that's just a rumor.

Anyway, the book did go back on sale somewhat latish Wednesday evening, (although a lucky few of you may have gotten more chapters than we originally intended to be a part of this beta, all the chapters will get there soon enough). Thanks to Colleen Toporek, my editor, for helping work through the process.

Also thanks to Matt Polito, whose been saying for weeks that he'd be the first in line to buy the book when it came out. And I can prove he was -- only one person managed to buy the book in the brief window it was online in the morning.

Now, though, I can tell you for sure: the book is up, I like it, I hope you like it, too. Buy early, and buy often.

Book Status



Finished up a draft of the article for the PragMag, hopefully that'll be in the May issue.

Tab Dump



Continuing the Pragmatic theme, here's an interview with Dave Thomas, that I haven't listened to yet. Looks like that'll be a two-part interview when all is done.

Yehuda Katz has another great bundler article, this one on named gem environments.

Cucumber released a beta of version 0.7 promising much, much faster parsing of feature files. Among other things, that makes using tags much more practical. Time to revisit that chapter, I think.

Finally



Jason Seifer and Peter Cooper talk about ugly old programming book covers, then create their own. If you've followed Jason for a while, I think you'll agree that his book contains all of his received wisdom on how well Rails can scale. But, guys, I don't think it gets worse than my face on the cover.




April 21, 2010: Annnndd... We're live

ActionMailer, Podcasts, Pragmatic, Rails 3, RailsRx, TeachingNoel Rappin1 Comment

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What else, but the actual live sale page for Rails Test Prescriptions, which is http://www.pragprog.com/titles/nrtest/rails-test-prescriptions. You should be able to see the cover off to the right sidebar. (As I write this, they haven't turned on the "Buy" link, sometime today, I think).

I like the mortar and pestle in the cover, it has a nice resonance with "prescriptions" and also, at least for me, a little bit of a tinkering kind of vibe.

Anyway, I'm excited and nervous about this -- of the books I've written, this is the one that is most clearly my project from the beginning. I hope you like it, and I hope that your comments will help this be an even better book, and that we can get the physical book in your hands soon.

Buy early, buy often.

Book Status



I've been working on an article for the next issue of the Pragazine. I think I might be doing a better job of justifying a mock style than I have in the current book text, which means I'll need to copy some of those arguments back into the book.

Tab Dump



Nice Rails Dispatch post by Mikel Lindsaar detailing the changes for Rails 3 ActionMailer. The ActionMailer API is much more consistent with the rest of Rails, giving me a fighting chance of remembering how it works without looking it up every time.

The CoderPath podcast popped up on RubyFlow -- it's a weekly interview podcast with Ruby and Rails programmers, that has so far included DHH, Ryan Bates, and others. I haven't actually listened yet, I just saw the link, so you can consider this a transparent plea for them to interview me. Since you may have heard I have a book out.

Since I do a fair amount of Rails Training (interested?), I liked this Sarah Allen slide show about Test First Teaching. Some ideas here that I need to think about incorporating better in the training sessions that I run.

Finally



Do not adjust your web browser. The rubyonrails domains are all still down as I write this. And it has nothing to do with the volcano. Hopefully it'll all get straightened out soonish.

April 15, 2010: The Library of Congress Recommends the Following Tweets

Agile, Bundler, Library of Congress, Pair Programming, Pragmatic, Ruby, Twitter, iPadNoel RappinComment

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As part of the Chirp conference, Twitter and the Library of Congress jointly announced that the Library will be storing Twitter's entire public archive.

I'm sure your expecting an easy joke about how many sandwiches the LoC now knows about in their archive, or about how scholarly papers about the archive will be limited to 140 characters. (Or, for a more academic joke, limited to 140 authors...) All that aside, though, I think archiving and making all this available is pretty neat.

Book Status



Still messing with Capybara and Webrat. Somewhat hampered by the fact that most of the usage of these tools is via Cucumber, so there's not a lot of documentation on them as standalone tools (particularly Capybara). Muddling through, though.

Also, the prags announced the beta release of the fourth edition of Agile Web Development with Rails.

Tab Dump



Rails Dispatch has their second post, which is another overview of Bundler and library management.

Two Ruby tip articles caught my eye. This one, by Alan Skorkin, is a complete overview serializing objects with Ruby. And here's a small tip from Ruby Quick tips about ensuring that an incoming option hash has only certain keys. I think the benefit of doing that is as much in revealing intention as anything else.

In our Agile section, we've go Nicolas Alpi reviewing what it is like to pair program. I have a half-written post on pairing floating around MarsEdit here... I'm still ambivalent about it even after largely pairing for the last six months. I think some of that is a personality thing, but I also think the idea that pairs do a better job of staying on track has been a little oversold -- it happens, but there are other offsetting issues. I really should finish that other post.

Also, part two of Kent Beck unedited and screencasting about testing. I admit I haven't watched this part yet.


And Finally,



Don't take your iPad to Israel (insert holy tablet joke here), as of a couple of days ago, the Israeli government has been blocking them at customs pending approval of their WiFi and security standards. In the meantime, those people who tried are being charged for every day the iPads sit in customs, and also agreed to pay a 16% Value Added Tax according to Israeli law.