Peter Cooper (who I interviewed
) has just announced SwitchPipe, which aims
to make deploying and hosting Rails (and other frameworks, such as
Django) applications easy. From the site:
Introduction / Overview
I haven’t spent much time with SwitchPipe yet, but if it lives up to
Peter’s claims this will dramatically simplify hosting
SwitchPipe is a proof of concept “Web application server” developed in
Ruby. More accurately, it’s a Web application process manager and
request dispatcher / proxy. Backend HTTP-speaking applications (Web
applications) do not run directly within SwitchPipe, but are loaded into
their own processes making SwitchPipe language and framework agnostic.
SwitchPipe takes control of, and manages, the backend application
processes, including loading and proxying to multiple instances of each
application in a round-robin style configuration. As an administrator,
you can define the maximum number of backend processes to run for each
app, along with other settings so that you do not exceeded preferred
resource limits. SwitchPipe quickly removes processes that “break” or
otherwise outlive their welcome. For example, you can let SwitchPipe
kill any backend processes that have not been accessed for, say, 20
seconds. This makes hosting many multiple Rails applications, for
example, a quick and non-memory demanding process, ideal for shared
SwitchPipe’s goal is to be:
* super easy to configure
* the easiest way to deploy multiple HTTP-talking backend
* painless in terms of management; no hand-holding of different
applications is needed
* a permanent daemon that can handle configuration changes in backend
apps “on the fly”
* a reliable solution on Linux and OS/X (and anything POSIX
What’s interesting to note is that this originated with Peter’s widely
on why such a thing was needed. Unlike a lot of other people who have
complained loudly about the state of Rails on shared hosting
environments, Peter put his time and talents towards creating a solution
which he then released within 3 weeks. This is
definitely something we need more of.
So what are your thoughts? Is this the solution we’ve been waiting for?
Initial performance numbers would seem to indicate that Ruby 1.9 (due by
Christmas) will be lots faster.
If you spend a lot of time in IRB (most of us probably do), it’s worth
taking the time to learn how to customize it. This is a good start.
Nice clean library to generate fake data. The home page says it’s a port
of Perl’s Data::Faker library, which I’d never even heard of.
A plugin to do OpenID authentication in Rails, in
a RESTful way.
Competition is good. Merb and the like provide
that competition to Rails. This article runs through an alternative to
the Rails stack. It’s always good to keep an eye on what else is out
Ok, this is a bonus link. Not at all Rails related, but relevent to you
if you’re reading this. Rands nails the
Nerd. I mean, really nails it.
A new book from O’Reilly on troubleshooting Ruby (and Rails) apps. From
This short cut introduces key system diagnostic tools to Ruby
developers creating and deploying web applications. When programmers
develop a Ruby application they commonly experience complex problems
which require some understanding of the underlying operating system to
be solved. Difficult to diagnose, these problems can make the
difference between a project’s failure or success. This short cut
demonstrates how to leverage system tools available on Mac OS X,
Linux, Solaris, BSD or any other Unix flavor. You will learn how to
leverage the raw power of tools such as lsof, strace or gdb to resolve
problems that are difficult to diagnose with the standard Ruby
development tools. You will also find concrete examples that
illustrate how these tools solve real-life problems in Ruby
development. This expertise will prove especially relevant during the
deployment phase of your application. In this way, should your
production Mongrel cluster freeze and stop serving HTTP requests, it
will not take you 2 days to figure out why!
A nice, if a bit short, article on some of the changes that are coming
in Rails 2.0. This is focused on what you will need to change in your
This is a beginner tutorial, specific to using Netbeans 6.0. I’ve not
played much with the Rails support in Netbeans, but it looks impressive
Jeremy Kemper recently committed a request
to Rails. It lets you make a request to a URL repeatedly, and then see
an HTML or text report of where your code is spending it’s time. This
looks very handy.
A walkthrough of building an app with Rails, which includes feature
definition, using Piston to manage
plugins, and Restful Authentication. Nice.
The Halloween Edition
One of the first tutorials I’ve seen that focuses on Rails 2.0.
This would seem to make deploying a Rails app on Amazon’s
EC2 on Rails is an Ubuntu Linux server image for Amazon’s EC2
hosting service that’s ready to run a standard Ruby on Rails
application with little or no customization. It’s a Ruby on Rails
virtual appliance. If you have an EC2 account and a public keypair
you’re five minutes away from deploying your Rails app.
A collection of Rails links
This is a nice step-by-step article on integrating
PayPal with your Rails application, using
I’ve only skimmed over the new features in the upcoming 2.0 release of
Rails, but this looks like one of the nicest features. This is a good
explanation of how it works and why it’s useful.
A bugfix release of Mongrel is out. Looks like 1.1 is due soon, and it
“Mongrel 1.1 is coming real soon now with JRuby support and a few
Being a bit of an Emacs junky, I’m not sure how I missed this. Looks
mature, and very functional, and almost TextMate-like. The link has a
nice flash video of Emacs on Rails in action.
Sitepoint’s book “Build Your Own Ruby on Rails Web Applications” is now
free, at least for the next month. I’ve only skimmed it, but it looks
like a decent introduction, and the price is certainly right.
Update: I somehow managed to misspell Relevance’s name. Fixed.
I’m missing RailsConf this year (I have no excuse, I live two hours
away). I’m living vicariously through the other attendees though,
keeping an eye on the blog posts.
One announcement that I just caught was that
Relevance has announced
Streamlined, which is a
framework on top of the Rails framework. Some of the interesting
features include (pulled from Justing Gehtland’s
- Generator for churning out the initial views and configuration
- A declarative DSL for managing views, including relationship
management, field selection, etc.
- Full Ajax-enabled management views with sorting, paging and live
search (with configurable field-inclusion)
- An extensible component system for representing relationships at
runtime * REST-ful web service layer around all models
- Auto user-management and inclusion of declarative role-based
It looks like this gives you a really good jumpstart on building data
driven applications (as if Rails wasn’t enough of a jumpstart). The
management views in particular sound nice
(Django has this already, really the
only thing Django has over Rails as far as I can tell).
They’re planning on realeasing this at OSCON in July. I’m looking
forward to it.
A few links that caught my eye today:
An introduction to Ruby on Rails for DB2 developers
- Nice article if you’re a DB2 user and want to know what the fuss is
about. Written by Edd Dumbill.
Ruby-Gnome2 Website - Appears to
be a decent GUI toolkit for Ruby. I wish someone would get QT’s Ruby
bindings working on Windows. The thing I miss most about Python is
Sapphire in Steel: The Little Book of Ruby - Nice
introduction to Ruby with plenty of code samples, in PDF form.
Ruby Cookbook -
The Perl Cookbook, ported to Ruby.
Ruby Inside - A great new blog by Peter
Cooper, focused solely on Ruby. The last two items
came from this site. I don’t know how he finds all these cool links.
Configuring Rails Environments - The Cheat Sheet
- Now you can find out what all of those neat settings in
There’s a relatively
comparison of the Django
framework to Rails over at
Sam Newman’s site. It appears
to be a relatively fair comparison.
It’s interesting that both frameworks were extracted from large
development projects in roughly the same time period, although Rails has
been publicly available for longer, and has more mindshare at the moment.
I’m happy with Rails, but I wonder whether I would have bothered with it
if Django had been available when I started looking at Rails. The thing
that kept me away from Rails for a long time was that I didn’t know
Ruby. I was (and still am) well-versed in Python. I still prefer the
cleaner syntax of Python over Ruby, although the latter does have some
features that I find compelling.
I wonder about the impact of one aspect of Django though: the fact that
the model generates your databas schema, instead of the developer
generating the model from the schema (which is the Rails model). I
suspect most DBA’s would go into convulsions at the very thought of
this. I can certainly see how it would ease moving from database to