Noel Rappin Writes Here


July 9, 2010: Beta 4 Released and More

Agile, Dropbox, Kent Beck, Mocha, Typing, iPadNoel RappinComment


Beta 4 of Rails Test Prescriptions is now available, with two new chapters, one on Rcov and coverage in general, and one on writing better tests. Buy here.

While I'm in the self-promoting mode, the book is also available for pre-order at Amazon and other exciting locations.

More Promotion

And while I'm here, I should mention that Obtiva has updated their training schedule. Obtiva offers a 4-day Boot Camp for learning Rails and TDD that will next be offered August 2nd through 5th. There's a brand-new Advanced Rails class that will be August 30th through September 2nd, and a version of the Boot Camp that meets weekly on Mondays starting September 20th.

Obtiva also offers private versions of our courses. See for more info.


For some time, Joe Ferris had a fork of the Mocha mock-object tool that allowed mock spies, which let you separate the definition of a stub from the expectation of how the stubbed method will be called. This makes it easier to use mocked objects in a single-assertion test structure, and also makes mock tests easier to read. Anyway, Ferris has split out the spy part in a separate gem called Bourne, which should be easier to install alongside the standard Mocha gem. Yay.
(via Larkware)

Corey Haines would like us all to learn to type better, and toward that end is starting a community event for next week (July 12-18) for some collective support for learning. For as much as "Typing is not the Bottleneck", which is true but not necessarily germane here, my experience is that programmers who are not great typists tend to be much more concerned with making their code concise at the expense of readability. Anything that eliminates friction between your head and the code is basically a good thing. (For the record, I mostly touch type, but I could stand to get faster and more accurate.)

Kent Beck has finished up his series on survey results about practices with a post on commit frequency and one on general practices. The general practices one is interesting, showing that about 50% of all respondents claim TDD, while about 70% claim to use iterations.

All of which sort of reminds me... a few years ago, when I worked at a major telecom company with a reputation for major waterfall development, I attended the "agile" track of an in-house seminar on software techniques in use at the company. Everybody in attendance there claimed to be agile, but only about 1/3 (by show of hands) were doing any kind of automated testing. It was, to say the least, a weird flavor of Agile. But I guess, you do what you can do and what works for your team.

Finally, I've been yammering here about iPad text editing and Dropbox for a few weeks, so I should mention Droptext, which seems to be the first iOS editor that saves and reads from Droptext. It's rather minimal at the moment (and kind of crashy), but I suspect the mere fact that it reads Dropbox files means that it's automatically useful.

May 6, 2010: The day of promoting stuff

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

Top Story

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 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.


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.

May 4, 2010: MacRuby and more

Cucumber, Dave Hoover, Dropbox, MacRuby, Rails, RailsRx, Ruby5, Watir, iPadNoel RappinComment

Top Story

MacRuby 0.6 is out. Big new features include a debugger, a new interface to Cocoa's Grand Central Dispatch, and a rewrite of the internals of basic Ruby classes.

In a related story, the early text of Matt Aimonetti's MacRuby book from O'Reilly is available for free online. Nice job all around.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here, but I use MacRuby and its ability to manipulate AppleScriptable programs to power my crazy-obsessive iTunes random playlist generator, so speed improvements are hoped for.

Book Update

Still in the Cucumber chapter. Had to go back to the beginning to make sure everything still made sense with Cuke 0.7. The end of proofing what I had is near, but I also need to write about newer features, most notably tags, and I need to make sure I still agree with all the ideas about when to use Cucumber that I had a year ago.

I changed the Cucumber in the chapter to use Capybara instead of Webrat, but it broke on test (having to do with a checkbox being checked). Not sure if it's an issue in Capybara, the Cucumber web steps, or me.

The book, of course, is still on sale.

Lulu raffle tomorrow, so get those address changes in if you need to.

And Then...

Big day for O'Reilly releasing stuff. Obtiva's Own Dave Hoover's book Apprenticeship Patterns was also released for free -- the whole book this time.

Gregg Pollack put together a big list of links on the official Ruby on Rails blog. All of these were originally covered on Gregg's podcast, Ruby5.

Brian Hogan has a set of matchers for using Cucumber with Watir, looks like it gives you in browser tests using a syntax similar to the existing Cucumber web steps, but more detailed.


Dropbox for iPad is out as of last night. If you care about that, it's really nice.