hoodwink.d enhanced


A Tour of Ruby, Every Blink of the Eye #

by why in inspect

I can’t think of anything more valuable for us right now. Here’s a guy named Stephen Downes who’s spent several days plowing through Rubydom and he’s written down everything, I mean scroll-scroll-scroll-scroll and then turn page. On his Linux box, he runs through installing Ruby and Rails. Then, creating a Rails app. Same old, right?

The thing that makes these articles so valuable is the commentary on how long the steps took and what specifically was frustrating. Little things like places where documentation wasn’t obvious or commands that didn’t make sense. The dismissive will probably just shrug this off as a rant (or worse) but I wish I had such thorough commentary for all my projects. There’s so much to mine from this for RubyGems, Rails, everyone. Lengthier bug reports, you know?

said on 20 Oct 2005 at 22:36

Looks like we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and get to work! It shouldn’t be anywhere near this hard for Canadians to install Rails.

Oh, and maybe we should be selling that “I

said on 20 Oct 2005 at 22:37

My last sentence was cut off!

I said, “Oh, and maybe we should be selling that “I love Ruby ” thong on rubystuff

said on 21 Oct 2005 at 00:07
The bloke did pretty well, I reckon, considering:
  • Rails was at a particularly dodgy point in its development, between when 1.8.3 came out and when Rails’ Logger bug was fixed
  • He pretty much just guessed his way along
  • He was trying to set up a web server with no prior experience
  • He didn’t find the Apache or Rails logs (I reckon he might have cracked it with the help of Apache’s error log)
  • His web server unfortunately didn’t have mod_rewrite installed
What would help?
  • Making the environment requirements obvious?
  • Troubleshooting info on the wiki?
  • Communicating the various rails community resources better (IRC, rails list, loglibrary, wiki)?
said on 21 Oct 2005 at 01:02

It’s fun reading. You cheer excitedly for him when he discovers what the ’.tgz’ extension means or what the ‘head’ command does. (Oops, maybe I should have poisted a SPOILERS warning).

I also found it entertaining because it sounds a lot like my Ruby/Rails installation experience. I am as infatuated with it as anyone, but I’ve held off on introducing it at work because the install process really needs to be much more straightforward, better documented, and less fraught with odd, cryptic error messages unrelated to what you thought you were trying to do (like running ‘rails cookbook’ and getting an error message about ‘constant Logger::Format not defined’—“When did I say anything about Logger::Format,” one asks in frustration).

I haven’t yet delved into the code for Rails or Ruby itself, but it seems like maybe there needs to be more error checking code (like being sure a constant exists before trying to use it, &c).

said on 21 Oct 2005 at 08:20

<|:{ Are you trying to be funny?

said on 21 Oct 2005 at 08:55

I think this is interesting partly because it’s a Linux/Ruby install experience from someone who is clearly new to Linux. Maybe there’s something to the ‘repackaging gems’ argument after all.

said on 21 Oct 2005 at 11:08

It was interesting read for me because I stumbled over almost every issue he describes, but since I’m a little more experienced with unix and programming (and more willing to resort to Google) it didn’t take me nearly as long to overcome the problems. Still, very insightful as to how we can improve instructions for newbies.

said on 21 Oct 2005 at 11:40

This is off topic, but is anyone else seeing the comment blocks with light yellow-green text on a light blue background in Firefox? This is highly unreadable and doesn’t happen in IE (text color seems the same, but background is white). Is it just me seeing this? Am I the only one having trouble reading the comments because of this? Thank you for a very educational site. Keep it up.

said on 21 Oct 2005 at 11:53

It looks fine here (light brown on white background), in FireFox 1.0.7 in WinXP.

Maybe an extension?

said on 21 Oct 2005 at 12:59

Is anyone else reminded these days of the similar articles that have gone around for the last 5 years or so about the hassles of running Linux? It seems that Rails has finally broken through the “early adopter” barrier enough to bring in lots of tinkerers who don’t necessarily have the background to puzzle out all the little corners and wrinkles required to get things working.

Of course, we can only hope that it follows a similar trajectory, where the frinction of endless rants on /., weblogs, and the like will eventually leave it with a beatiful, polished shine.

said on 22 Oct 2005 at 11:08

Some more commentary on RoR (& more): www.slash7.com and www.robbyonrails.com!

said on 23 Oct 2005 at 17:13

I’ve tried rails and I’ve had trouble with installing it too. It’s just a lot of pain, but I love ruby so much that I’m writing webapps in it anyway. It’s just too shiny not to use! Oh, and another thing that might give some people trouble is debian’s weird ruby packaging, they don’t like to include the standard library with it for some reason and you have to install all the bits separately.

said on 23 Oct 2005 at 18:57

I think this is a systematic problem in computing today. It’s a very common problem in general. I recently had a conversation with my father-in-law where he told me about some cool software he found for his computer. The software apparently was some type of home design stuff, possibly CAD -like where you create a house. He talked about how there was a piece that told him to “click and drag” an item onto the page, except he had no idea what that meant. It’s amazing how quickly we forget where we came from, and how hard it was to get there. The industry as a whole would do well to cater to people with no prior experience, and those are the folks who should really be documenting stuff. Sometimes I think I’d even be a good candidate. :)

said on 23 Oct 2005 at 19:57

typo, should’ve said systemic

said on 24 Oct 2005 at 01:16

crzwdjk: Your comment about Debian isn’t completely true. I installed the “ruby” package and it installed everything except ri and rdoc, which were both available though the “suggested” packages to install related to Ruby, and thus were also easily available. I didn’t even have to install irb by myself: it got installed when I installed ri (which also installed rdoc). In any case, the standard library was installed as soon as the “ruby” package was installed.

The thing is that if you list all Ruby-related packages, you indeed see separate packages for different parts from the standard library. Those are compatibility packages only. The true packages are actually installed by the “libruby1.8” package, which is a dependency of “ruby” (actually of “ruby1.8”, but that’s the package “ruby” actually installs). You can check that in Synaptic, by looking at libruby1.8 and under the tab “dependencies” check “provides”. You’ll then see a list of all the packages that form the standard library.

In any case, it means that if you want a full install of Ruby, with its standard library, irb and the RDoc/ri documentation system, you only need to manually install 2 packages: “ruby” and “ri”. The rest gets installed automatically through the dependencies.

said on 24 Oct 2005 at 01:49

Mac OS X users also might want to go and check out locomotive.sf.net !

said on 24 Oct 2005 at 19:08

irb, ri, and rdoc are supposed to be part of the Ruby distribution. The Debian packagers have no business deciding otherwise.

Hopefully next time the =y might finally get it right.

said on 24 Oct 2005 at 19:10

Sorry, that last comment was written by me, not Tsela. It was supposed to be addressed to Tsela.

said on 13 Nov 2005 at 04:45

One more RoR doc: rails.homelinux.org

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