Notes from the NH Ruby/Rails Group, 25-Sept-2007: Scott Garman and Nick Plante

Five attendees made it to the September meeting of the NH Ruby/Rails User Group, held as usual at the well-appointed RMC Research offices, though not on the usual third Tuesday. A round of introductions lead to some vigorous discussions, including how to broadcast and record meetings (perhaps a future meeting will be available via WebEx?), other computing organizations and conferences in the Granite State (GNHLUG, SwANH, the infoeXchange conference, NH High-Tech Council, etc.).

Nick Plante had some great stories about the Rails Rumble, a 48-hour online programming contest he help run. A large number of teams competed and a fair number actually delivered working applications, some of them looking quite polished. There’s open voting on the most popular applications, and winners will walk away with a number of desirable prizes. Nick’s also been tapped to do the closing presentation at Ruby East, where he will demonstrate some of the more popular applications. There are some great apps there, and some will be providing their source code, though not all. Check them out!

On to the main presentation: Scott and Nick had started a simple Ruby app for NHRuby members to be able to suggest future meeting topics and vote on them, giving the organizers some ideas on what to present next. Tonight, Scott presented the unit, functional and integration test frameworks built into Rails and/or available as add-ons. Nick showed the UI for the voting interface and dove deep into how the form functioned. There was a lot of discussion, with debates on where the boundaries are in unit vs. functional vs. integration, and how Javascript (via the Prototype libraries) can be integrated into the interface and how Rails allows graceful degradation on platforms with Javascript unavailable or disabled. Comparisons were made between the internal, programmer-centric tests provided by Rails and external tests a QA person might run with a tool like Selenium. Lots and lots of great ideas. In a future meeting, Scott and Nick will discuss the next step, deploying the application, perhaps using Vlad the Deployer (ow) and/or the new Capistrano 2.

Thanks to Scott for organizing the meeting, Tim of RMC for providing the meeting space, Scott and Nick for the presentation, Brian for mentioning Selenium and all for their attendance and participation!

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