Announcing Ruby Rails Review: a ruby and rails news site
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I’m pleased to announce that my team, currently all two of us, known as Agile Nomads, has released a new site to assist in monitoring the news in the Ruby and Rails industry. It’s called Ruby Rails Review and is designed to be very simple, small on download size, thus fast to load, and very quick to see an overview of what’s going on in the community.

Thanks to my team mate Steve Pothoven for his work on the very nice CMS tool that you can’t see but that makes updating the information a snap. Also much thanks to Beth at DblTake Designs for the design of our Agile Nomads logo.

Feel free to send in your Ruby or Rails blogs, sites, events, and articles for consideration. We won’t post everything, but we’ll post the best of what is out there in our humble opinions. You can send your suggestions to rubyrailsreview@agilenomads.com.

You can follow us on Twitter as well, to be notified of some more features we will be adding, and more products we plan to release in the future.

Eight things I learned on Day 1 at RubyConf 2008
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  1. The Davenport, FL area is terribly un-GPS documented. MS Maps, Google Maps, my GPS and Starbuck’s web site all gave incorrect directions to a Starbucks, a Walmart, and the conference hotel
  2. Gregg Pollack makes awesome slides
  3. Electricity is a rare and precious commodity at a Ruby conference
  4. Ruby is playdough. Java is legos
  5. Code Just in time, not in case
  6. NeverBlock can be useful for more than just database connections
  7. C/C++ can be inlined in Ruby
  8. Even after 8 hours of Ruby classes, I still want to code until 2 in the morning
My Goals for RubyConf
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I leave later tonight for RubyConf in Orlando. This will be my first time at this conference and my second Ruby conference. I am so glad I gave Rails a second look two years ago, and enjoy every single day of my development in the language. I love the community, the syntax, and the focus on efficiency. I am enjoying working with more agile and creative small businesses and startups rather than bulky, procedural corporations. There’s more passion in this sector. So onto what I’m hoping to get out of this conference.

Goal-assisting Education
I love learning. There is always more to learn but, what I learn has to directly help me reach my goals for me to stay passionate with it. There are classes that I will attend that I believe will help me improve my applications, but what is also exciting are the classes that surprise you, or the extra tips and pointers you pick up outside the classes from the people you meet and the impromptu discussions.

Absorbing Optimism and Passion.
In my opinion, passion and optimism, founded on persistence and a desire to learn is the recipe for success. I’m looking forward to meeting those of you who absolutely love what you do. You love to code in Ruby. You love creating applications to improve the user’s life, solve the user’s problem, or entertain the user. Particularly, as an Entrepreneur at heart, I want to meet those of you who are optimistic and passionate about the businesses you are starting or have started.

    Suggestion and Tip to presenters: If there is something you do not like about Rails or Ruby, then make a suggestion from a positive perspective on how we as a community can make it better. Sharing your frustrations and distaste for something is fine, but useless unless presented with a real solution. I have no desire to be doused in a pessimistic discharge. Criticism is great, but do it from a passionate and optimistic spirit and the community will grow as a result. Do it with negativity and pessimism and its like a cancer that can eat away at a community.

Meeting like-minded people
This goes right along with my previous point, but beyond just being around optimism and passion, I’d like to meet you, hear your plans, your dreams, your stories. Find me, if I don’t find you.

I plan to twitter my experience and may make some posts on here as well. Should be a great time.

Date Validator for Rails
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This week on a project I had the need to signal the user when they had entered an invalid date for a date field that wasn’t required. But I needed to show the error even if they entered a bunch of garbage into the field. Unfortunately in Rails, if you attempt to set a string into a Date field it doesn’t set at all, and so when the validator fires there is nothing to validate and since the field isn’t a required field, no error is displayed.

After searching the net extensively, I found this ruby class for adding a validates_dates function. It is very helpful and not only solved my problem, but also gives the users a few shortcuts for entering the date, such as the following examples.

+6days, +6d, +6, +2w, -6m, +1y

It also allows you to define, in the validation usage, a from and to range that the date should be within. For example, a person’s renewal date should not be before their created_at date, or limiting a date field to be beyond today.

validates_dates :birthday, :from => '1 Jan 1920', :to => Date.today, :allow_nil => true

The snippet is here.

YellowPages.com on Rails
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RailsonWave.com summarizes the recent talk at RailsConf 2008 regarding YellowPages.com’s move from Java to Rails. They serve up 23 million visitors a month. The conversion resulted in 20,000 lines of Ruby code instead of 125,000 lines of Java code, and most importantly eased the difficulty they had in maintaining it. Once complete, and optimized their site is now faster than before. They also completed the rewrite in three months with four developers. You can read the entire write up at railsonwave.com.

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