Building Ruby, Rails, Subversion, Mongrel, and MySQL on Mac OS X Tiger – The Easy Way

“Dan Benjamin”: recently updated his very helpful article entitled “”Building Ruby, Rails, Subversion, Mongrel, and MySQL on Mac OS X”:”.

I don’t know about anyone else but compiling software is not one of my favourite pastimes. As I’ve been chopping and changing macs lately I thought I’d write a couple of shell scripts to get things right before running anything on my nice new (freshly installed) MacBook Pro.

h3. Prerequisites

There are a couple of prerequisites in addition to what’s on Dan’s “”What’s Needed”:” list before running “the scripts”: The first is that you must have MySQL installed as referenced in “Dan’s article”:, and the second being the following:

Ensure you have the following line at the end of your ~/.bash_login file:

export PATH="/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/mysql/bin:$PATH"

You can add this by typing nano ~/.bash_login then copy and paste the above line into the end of the file. Once this is done, hit ctrl-x to exit, answering ‘y’ to “do you want to save changes” prompt.

h3. The scripts

There are two scripts, “”: and “”: and the following will explain how to use them.

h3. Creating your development environment

The first script will install everything in Dan’s article along with the following gems that I use frequently:
* rails version 1.1.6 for support of older rails apps
* bluecloth
* redcloth
* sqlite3-ruby
* ferret
* ZenTest
* redgreen

Right… here we go:

(please read “the licence”: before running these scripts as although they have been tested on a clean install of Tiger, I can’t take any responsibility if something breaks)
# Download “”: to your desktop
# If you don’t wish to install all of these gems then open the file in a text editor and comment out the relevant lines with a hash.
# Open a new terminal window and type the following:

cd ~/Desktop

# Go make a cup of tea and watch all the pretty text scroll before your eyes.

That’s it, you should now have a fully working development environment.

h3. Image tools

I use a couple of image tools on my system, GD and ImageMagick (with RMagick). If you wish to install these tools and the related libraries, run the following:

(This script hasn’t been tested as much as the previous one so use at your own risk. If anyone has any bug fixes then please post a comment)

cd ~/Desktop

h3. We’re done

Please let me know if I’ve missed anything obvious.

I hope this helps anyone else out there with Compilaphobia!

Ruby on Rails Exchange, London

Last Friday, a couple of us from “SonicIQ”: went to the first “RoR eXchange hosted by Skills Matter”:

It was a great day with some interesting talks from:

* Chad Fowler
* Tom Locke
* Paul Battley
* James Cox
* Damien Tanner
* Ben Griffiths
* Eleanor McHugh

h3. Chad Fowler – Quick and -Dirty- Clean: Well factored Rails

Chad kicked off with a talk on “Quick and -Dirty- Clean: Well factored Rails”. For me it was one of those talks where you think “If only I heard this 6 months ago!”. The reason I say this is that a great deal of what he was talking about, we now implement on a day-to-day basis, but we have gotten there the hard way through making the mistakes that he mentions.

He talks about never using instance variables in views, I love that someone has confirmed this as I find it generally bad practice. For a while now we have been replacing them with helpers giving much more flexibility when the controller logic changes.

One great point that was made, was that SQL should never be used in controllers, not even in :order options. I have to admit, in the past I have done this a lot but the suggestion of custom finders in the model are a much better alternative and it keeps with the whole “Skinny Controller, Fat Model”: idea.

One thing I really must get into the habit of using are association proxies for has_many and such like. Chad showed some great examples of this.

I like one phrase that Chad came up with… “Bare Model Finds” which made me chuckle. What he was getting at was something like an account based site where everything should be found via the given account i.e. @account.projects.find(:all)

as opposed to a “Bare Model Find” of Project.find(:all, :conditions => [‘account_id = ?’,])

The main points I have taken away from this talk (which I am also going to put in a large poster on the office wall) are the folowing:

* No instance variables in views
* No SQL in controllers
* No more than 4 lines in controller actions

h3. Tom Locke – Experiments with Very Rapid Development in Rails

Tom gave a demo of his “Hobo”: project which is very similar to a plugin we use in-house (which also may go open source at some point).

One thing I like about Hobo is the incremental nature of the “dryml” views, meaning that you can override certain elements in a default view bit-by-bit, i.e. if you just want a different header for a certain page you don’t need to create a duplicate of the view and change it, you only need to redefine certain elements of the page.

I completely agree with Tom’s views on generators, although he was slightly more diplomatic than I would have been. I am going to be slightly controversial and say that I really don’t like generators except for creating stub files. What happens if you have an authentication system generator which you have used in 50 projects and you suddenly find a security hole?? …You now have to go back through those 50 projects to fix it! [end generator rant]

h3. Paul Battley – Rerouting Rails

Paul attempted to explain how he believes the rails routing system should be re-written. I could see a lot of merit in what he was saying, however I don’t believe it lent itself very well to this type of presentation.

h3. James Cox – Managing a high performance rails app without tearing your hair out

James gave some great tips on easy ways to increase the overall performance of Rails apps. We are in the process of configuring a new server so these tips came at a good time.

h3. Damien Tanner – Extend your Rails application using Domain Specific Languages

Damien explained a roundtrip his company went on with DLS’s explaining that they are great in certain situations but can be taken too far or overused. In the example he gave, it turned out that the DSL he created was overkill for the business problem he was trying to solve.

h3. Ben Griffiths – Are your tests working for you?

For me, this and Chad’s were the presentations that made the trip to London worth while. I am ashamed to say that until now, I have not gotten into TDD (I’ve been using Rails for over a year and a half). It’s not through lack of trying but with clients constantly on your back to get projects out the door, it’s all to easy to dive straight into coding the application and neglecting the tests.

He started with a comparison between testing and the film Predator. This sounds like a strange comparison however it really helped to illustrate the need for a good set of tests.

My main problem with tests were “what do I test?” and “my fixtures need too much maintenance!”. I breathed a sigh of relief when Ben suggested not using fixtures at all as maintaining a load of fixtures really turned me off testing.

This was a great talk and I could bang on for hours on the benefits of testing with Ben’s techniques and his whole take on modular design but I’ll save that for another post. As a side-note, I have been doing TDD ever since this talk.

h3. Eleanor McHugh – Where’s my SQL? Platform-independent database design using Migrations

Eleanor gave some examples of how migrations could be extended with plugins. A lot of the examples she gave were based on what has been implemented in Hobo. There were some interesting points in the talk although my concentration levels were frayed by this point.

h3. Group Discussion

The main point of discussion was views. I think everyone was in agreement that something needs to change with the way Rails handles it’s views. I personally believe that they should be purposefully limiting so that it is hard to do bad things in the view. I am looking forward to seeing views taken to the next level and believe that there will be some large changes before 2.0 based on the comments during this discussion.

h3. After Party

The guys at “Skills Matter”: put on the first 100 drinks at “Liquid” – a Japanese-themed bar. We had a chance to mingle and discuss a few of the points that we forgot to ask after the talks.

Thanks to all the speakers, all in all a great day out.

Videos of some of the talks are now “available online”: Also, my colleague “Andy”: has blogged about his take on the day: “Part 1″:, “Part 2″:

New web-based GTD productivity application

Finally I can mention it. At SonicIQ we’ve been working on a web-based “GTD”: application. Today the teaser site went live at “”:

If you are are into “GTD”:, life hacks or productivity in general head over to “”: for a sneak peek!

A break down in communication

We (“SonicIQ”: have just completed our second office move in 5 months. Hopefully this one will be slightly more long term.

We had to get the BT man out today as our new phone line hasn’t been working for the past two days (and subsequently our internet connection). The poor guy was scratching his head as to what the problem could be…

BT sold us a “Feature Line” however what they neglected to tell us was that one of the “features” was that you have to dial 9 to get an outside line. It turns out that this was the problem all along!! As for the internet connection the router was set to PPPoE instead of PPPoA, this would have worked from the beginning also.

It’s ironic, the lack of communication a national communications company has… they failed to mention it in the correspondence and it was not mentioned during any of the sales calls.

Here comes 2006…

With 2006 on the horizon there are so many things that I have still yet to accomplish.

This is not a new years resolution list, more of a reminder to myself as to what I want to get out of the new year.

h3. Moving premises

Something that is sure to help with a fresh start is the fact that “SonicIQ”: is moving premises on the 1st of Feb. Initial chaos no doubt what with phone lines being transfered etc. but still, a change of location is always good for a bit of variety.

h3. Aims for the new year

* Get the sodding “SonicIQ”: site live. Four to five years of trading and still only a holding page due to the constant workload.

* Make more time for personal projects, ideas that have been floating around in my head for years and not seen the light of day.

* Take the stress out of work and actually start enjoying it again. With so much to do and not enough time you tend to loose focus on why your actually running a business in the first place.

* Decorate the flat! – Had my flat for three years and still not finished decorating… that’s just silly.

* Have a cracking summer and *go to the beach*. Living five minutes walk from the beach and visiting it once in 2005 is again just silly…

* Make the most of free time. I tend to wear myself down with work that any free time I get is spent lounging around, sleeping and/or stressing about deadlines.

I’m sure I could keep this list going for ever, so I’ll stop now. Hopefully this _will_ act as a reminder to myself to at least act on a couple of these points.

So here is to a prosperous 2006… bring it on, I’m ready this time.