Week 1 – Personal Discovery

For the first hour I decided to do a little research into Ruby.  I’ve heard a little about the language and it sounds intriguing.  Wikipedia should be a good place to jump off from…

Model–view–controller architecture – Separating the database design from the way that the user interfaces with the form sounds like a good idea to start with.  Any time you can make a system more modular without sacrificing functionality the outcome is generally easier maintence and future developement.

Ruby on Rails is intended to emphasize Convention over Configuration (CoC), and the rapid development principle of Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY).

“Convention over Configuration” means a developer only needs to specify unconventional aspects of the application.

“Don’t repeat yourself” means that information is located in a single, unambiguous place. – Wikipedia

So basically Ruby seems to be mainly focused on developing web forms.  I have a little experience in this area as I’ve developed forms in Excel, once using a weird longhand method that was heavy on VB scripting for data validation and to make sure that all information was provided, and to port the resulting data from the form to a spreadsheet and a data sheet for the individual case in question.  Most of the data entry points that I worked on after that were just highly tailored Excel spreadsheets with VB script for porting the data into monthly overviews.

The second form that I started developing on the job was in a Hypertext application, but since I had no access to server side scripting I found data transfer issues to be nearly insurmountable.

On to the official Ruby on Rails website…

Glanced through the blog, most of it didn’t mean much to me as it focuses on bug fixes and new releases.  Basically the cutting edge of what is going on in Ruby 3.0 developement.

Also took a look over a video about developing a web log with comments and an rss feed in Ruby on Rails in about the amount of time that a straight Java developer would take to get a cup of coffee (15 minutes).

Ruby Tutorials

Also watched sections of a longer video that apparently was introducing Rails but had rather unfortunite direction.  Most of the time I was staring at the back of the presenter’s head while he was looking up at a screen which was out of view as he droned on about an application called Basecamp (project management for production folks) and how Ruby isn’t exclusive but is imbedded within HTML and will accept Sequel scripting.  Yawn.  Time to move on.

For the second hour I looked through a tutorial on basic Ruby on Rails developement.   Creating a form to add entries to a relational database, and to retrieve a list of records from the database was disgustingly easy.  Definetely have to look into this some more.

On to Hour Three…

So for the last hour I decided to switch gears and have a little fun.  I haven’t been keeping up to date on developements in Flash animation so I took a whirlwind tour of Flash sites.

The kids travel site is farely well designed but navigation is a bit iffie.  The Grownup maps section has dead ends.  But the kids links to visit various contries were rather dynamic with alot of little animations in the various cities to keep it interesting.

The soccer players site had nice clear images and the interaction was fun (you can drop him through the floor of the elevator, and it would pick him up again in the parking garage) but the interface was buggy.  It only seemed to be able to visit the individual floors once.  More troubleshooting seems to be in order.

The XDim company (which seems to be a design studio focusing on Flash developement) had a very showy site but seemed to be lacking in actual content.  I went to the portfolio section expecting to see examples of thier work, but instead they have some basic feel good mission statement style blurbs about 3d Animation, ETraining etc. with no links to examples.  The site started in German and I couldn’t find a simple option to switch to English.  When it did switch over to English the translations were obviously done with a basic translation engine as the grammer was appaling.  I don’t know if they aren’t hoping for many english speaking clients but they should have spent a little of the funding on decent english language content.  Just goes to show that all of the flashy graphics in the world can’t carry a site on its own.  Also the site would really benefit from progress indicators.  It was difficult to tell if the site was locked up, or just waiting for apps to load.  When I found the examples of their work (in the Showcase link) the animation was smooth and tight but there were some bugs in the processing and the apps would deadend after the basic cycle ended.

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