Notes from New Hampshire Ruby/Rails Group, 19-July-2010: Redis, Resque, Vanity, Mogotest, Nick Plante

The July meeting of the New Hampshire Ruby/Rails group was held as usual on the third Monday of the month at RMC Research in Portsmouth. Nick Plante was the featured speaker, talking about Redis, the NOSQL database, Resque and Vanity. Brian Turnbull ran the meeting and brought pizzas — thanks, Brian and Nick!

We started off with a round of introductions and speaking a little bit about who we are, what we do, why we’re there. There’s an interesting assortment of backgrounds: a few folks with deep Ruby experience, a number of people transitioning from other languages (Java was mentioned more than once) and some web design folks looking to get a little deeper into the workings. Brian mentioned that the RailsRumble was coming up fast – October 16th – and that seats went quickly once registration for the event was open. Keep an eye out for future announcements.

Nick Plante talked about Redis, Resque and Vanity. You can view the slides here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34712184/A-Quick-Introduction-to-Redis-NH-rb. Redis (http://github.com/antirez/redis) is a NOSQL (“Not Only SQL”) database that has a simpler API (put/get/list keys) than the complex SQL needed for a relational database. It is a “key-value” store that stores flat values (and/or documents, arrays, lists, etc.) with a great deal of speed, high-performance, reliability and scalability. It is ideal as the primary means of access for data on a demanding web site, acting as a cache for underlying relational data or transient data. Nick talked about how he and his partner used Redis and the Resque
Ruby library (http://github.com/defunkt/resque) to manage a job queue where the front-end servers posted jobs, many background workers processed the jobs, and the front end could display progress or completion. Nick also talked about A/B testing with Vanity, another package which uses Redis as its backend datastore. Vanity lets you present two different interfaces (hence the A/B) and monitor statistics on how the users react to the differences (do green buttons get better conversion than orange?). Nick wrapped up by showing us some of the code used in Mogotest and how they managed backend tasks.

As a bonus, we got the briefest of tours of what Mogotest can do: it will spider a web site, gathering the content, show you validation issues with the code (HTML and CSS), compare how the web pages look in a number of different browsers (side-by-side or a slick overlay). This can be really handy to include as part of testing a web site. Mogotest has just entered into public beta, during which you can test your site for free. Check it out!

Thanks to Nick for a very interesting presentation! Thanks to Brian for coordinating the event and getting pizza! Thanks to RMC for the great facilities.

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