Notes from NH Ruby/Rails, 21-Oct-2008: REST, Atom and Plugins

Eight people attended the October meeting of the NH Ruby/Rails group, held as usual at RMC Research in Portsmouth on the third Tuesday of the month.

The meeting started with a general chat session where a range of issues
were covered. Quite a discussion about computer industry trade books was
a notable item. A round of introductions followed, including several new

Brian Turnbull made the first two presentations. REST, the Representational State Transfer mechanism (slides), is based on a PhD dissertation by Roy Fielding, and describes a URI-naming technique that “REST emphasizes scalability of component interactions, generality of interfaces, independent deployment of components, and intermediary components to reduce interaction latency, enforce security, and encapsulate legacy systems.” (from Fielding) Cool stuff, and essential to understand for those developing modern web apps.

Brian also talked about the Atom Publishing Protocol (slides), which describes a scaleable way of managing and distributing documents using RESTful interfaces.

Nick Plante had the next presentation, on Demystifying Ruby Plugins. Nick and Brian had spent the past several weeks putting together the very successful Ruby Rampage — which I hope they’ll post some more about soon – and so were a bit hard-pressed to have fully-baked presentations ready for the SIG, so this presentation was more of an open conversation on “what should we say about building plugins,” a perfectly acceptable topic for a user group meeting, btw, imo. (Nick will be giving the full presentation at next week’s “Voices That Matter” conference in Boston – good luck, Nick!) Nick talked about how plugins differ from gems, the history of “add-ons” in general for Ruby and Rails, and what design considerations went into building a plugin. Then, we ran some basic code to show how a plugin would work. Excellent overview!

Thanks to Scott and Tim for promoting and hosting the meeting, to Nick and Brian for their presentations, and to all for attending and participating.

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