Notes from NH Ruby/Rails Group, 19-February-2009: Josh Nichols, Jeweler, Brian Turnbull, Rails 2.3

The New Hampshire Ruby / Rails group met as usual at the RMC Research offices in Portsmouth. Thirteen people attended the meeting, a suspicious number of them from Maine. We started, as we often do, with a round of introductions.

Josh Nichols presented RubyGems and You. A former Java developer, started working with Ruby about two years ago, got a “real” Ruby job about 6 months ago, laid off 2 months ago, currently “employment independent.” Josh presented an excellent overview of how gems work, how they fit into the logic of Rails apps, how they are distinguished from plugins, and how gems can be created. He went on to talk about the two primary repositories, RubyForge and GitHub, and talked about the benifits and liabilities of each. This was all pretty much background for his presentation of Jeweler, a set of scripts that can generate the framework needed to build a gem, with support for pushing it directly up onto GitHub, automating the bumping of version numbers (patch, minor and major versions). Josh made a very clear presentation of the skeletal files that were created and touched on issues with RSpec testing, rake scripts, how to tie in library paths, vendor-izing your gems. Whew! A great amount of material covered quickly and well. Thanks, Josh!

Brian Turnbull did a presentation on the new features of Rails 2.3: Engines, nested transactions, nested forms, nested attributes, dynamic and default scope, other changes (multiple conditions for callbacks, HTTP digest authentication, lazy loaded sessions, localized views, and more!)

Brian then did a short presentation on Rails Metal. Metal runs on top of Rack, and is a tool you turn to when the full Rails stack is too complex or too slow. There was some interesting discussion on how Metal can fit into the calling stack, short-circuiting calls that didn’t need the full Rails process.

Demo version:

You can view their slides via SlideShare and also view a WebEx video of the event (see the post’s comments) at

Thanks to Josh for the trip up from Boston and the great presentation. Thanks to Brian for two cool presentations. Thanks to Tim Golden and our hosts at RMC Research for the great facilities and for broadcasting the presentation via WebEx this month. Thanks to Nick for herding the cats and ordering the pizza and making the announcements and giving away a couple of cool O’Reilly books. Thanks to all for attending and participating!

Next month: Ted Roche presents an introduction to Cascading Style Sheets, Nick Plante presents Sinatra. Hope to see you there!

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