Hey Readers, What Do You Want?

by Gregory Brown

This blog has some of the best Ruby talent floating around on it.
Problem is, it seems like many folks are too busy, too tied up with other blogs, or too (something) to post here.

Some of us want to turn that around. I've been talking community for the last week or so, and I'd like to start eating my own dog food right here at home.

We've already started discussions on the internal mailing list, I'm willing to open Pandora's box and ask you readers what you are looking for. What things do you like and want to see more of? What things do you dislike and want to see banned from ORA and possible chased by an army of undead pirates?

If you go back and look at the list of authors we have here, there is serious potential for a cool ruby resource. Problem is, no one knows quite what to do anymore, since the overall feel over here is a little fragile.

I was pretty excited when O'Reilly set up a Ruby blog. I'd like to see that excitement restored among the bloggers here. So, readers, what can we do to make you happy?

If it involves Chunky Bacon, so be it!

32 Comments

Tim O'Brien
2007-03-21 08:32:14
I'd like to see more content focused on Rails. (I'm really not kidding.)
pate
2007-03-21 08:42:23
Tim,
not to bash the suggestion, but two questions:
1) How much Rails do you want? 5 of the last 10 posts were rails centric, and 3 of the others had at least some Rails content.
2) You're one of the bloggers here, care to write some Rails focused content? (only half serious)
Eric
2007-03-21 08:49:48
I'm looking for blogs/sites that will help me learn Ruby both from an intial phase all the way to advance tips. AskTom from Oracle is a great place for learning/expanding knowledge of Oracle. Is there something similar for Ruby? Most of the blogs on Ruby I see are about new packages/features, but not much in the way of examples or directions on how to use them; or pitfalls to look for.
Tim O'Brien
2007-03-21 08:53:02
Hey pat. I think it's good to have this discussion out here. Here's the thing, I frequently start a piece, but then it veers into uncharted territory. Example, a piece about using Rails ActiveRecord with Hibernate in a slightly unconventional sort of way. I understand that people might not like the mixure on a single-topic blog, so then I end up tossing it in the can and getting back to work. Ditto with a few posts about using Flex with Rails. I'll write a piece like that either on the Java blog or on the Ruby blog, it'll generate traffic and a serious comment stream, but then someone makes a sad face and says, that's not appropriate for blog X. *shrug* disincentive to try.


Also the idea that link posts are bad, sure, maybe, if the O'Reilly site had a better interface, you'd be able to filter people by preference, bloggers would blog and topics would be constructed on the fly with tags. But at least over at the Java blog, even though Anglins posts are short, he frequently provides the links people want to see.

Gregory Brown
2007-03-21 08:54:00
*I'm looking for blogs/sites that will help me learn Ruby both from an intial phase all the way to advance tips.*


If you check my feed, for beginning ruby stuff, I started this NubyGems series that seemed to be helpful for beginners.


For advanced stuff i made one post in a series called Digging Deep.


I'd like to continue both of these series, and possibly invite some of the other ORA bloggers or smart folks from the general Ruby community to help me move these along.


Would this sort of content be helpful to you?


I'll need to look at AskTom and see if we can get some ideas from there...

pate
2007-03-21 08:55:27
Eric,
do you mean things like Gregory's 'Digging Deep' and ''NubyGems' posts here on the O'Reilly blog, or did you have something else in mind?
Gregory Brown
2007-03-21 09:01:09
ActiveRecord with Hibernate in a slightly unconventional sort of way


Dig it out of the trash, that sounds cool!


I'll write a piece like that either on the Java blog or on the Ruby blog, it'll generate traffic and a serious comment stream, but then someone makes a sad face and says, that's not appropriate for blog X. *shrug* disincentive to try.


I have to admit that I'm sometimes the one making the sad face. But good content is good content, and having a track record of high comment streams is not A Bad Thing at all. We've got the internal list going now, so if you have ideas you're on the fence about, shoot them out there. I think that even if you find a sad face or two, you'll also find a few thumbs up, and that's hopefully enough to get you to ignore curmudgeon's like me when I'm wrong. ;)

Phil
2007-03-21 09:28:07
How about highlighting some lesser-known libraries? Maybe an article on Og/Nitro vs Rails; what's the difference between their philosophies; what could they learn from each other?

2007-03-21 09:37:32
I'd like to see more Nuby Gems, and other things to help you get started using Ruby. Also, some articles/tutorials on lesser known Ruby libraries/programs would be really cool.


For instance Hpricot, Gonzui, or Watir. I didn't do a search to see if these have already been covered, but I'm pretty sure I haven't seen them covered recently.


Really like the blog keep em coming.

Lyle Johnson
2007-03-21 09:51:24
With all due respect to Tim (and others who share his opinion), you can't sling a cat these days without hitting a blog with Rails content. That's a good problem to have, but it also means that if you want this O'Reilly blog to stand out from the crowd, it's going to need to provide something that people can't get anywhere else. So while I appreciate the attention and respect that Rails has brought to Ruby, I'd love to see more people writing about non-Rails uses of Ruby.
CynicalRyan
2007-03-21 10:16:33
Well, a couple of ideas:


* Tell us about other blogs concerning Ruby and Rails.
* I see no blog roll, on the right. That could tie in with the above, or just stand alone: Link to important / interesting / curious blogs (maybe not just Ruby)
* Take a problem (akin to the quiz on ruby-talk), and offer solutions / approaches to this problem.
* Introduce Ruby libraries. Well known libraries, too, with a twist in such a case, maybe.
* Take a library / project, and point out where it is lacking, and what can be improved.
* Maybe find a business case or three, and let them talk about their reasons for adopting Ruby, what they do, what they like don't like. And I mean beyond the Rails crowd.



That's jsut a few ideas I can come up with. I'm sure there's more that can be done, and a lot that shouldn't be done, but that I still posted. ;)


But just a few things like that would make me come back over and over.


P.S. The oddest idea: create a "project", and "develop" it in the blog. Kinda like homework, back in school. ;)

Gregory
2007-03-21 11:14:16
Wow,


this kind of feedback is exactly what I was looking for.
Thanks guys and keep 'em coming.


I'll post a followup summary if we end up having the content for it.

SonOfLilit
2007-03-21 11:28:11
What _why has in redhanded, just more.


Much more.



Seriously? Pat's blogging competition and naming competition were much fun, and O'Reilly shouldn't have a problem to part with a few ruby books for a similar thing.


I REALLY enjoyed the blogging competition in february, whence I was able to participate (Jan, Mar were both rails competitions and I'm not enough into rails).



I'm also constantly fishing for information on rubinius and almost none is available.



Some journalism on the things happening within interesting projects, both code-wise and people-wise.



And someone should do some serious research on who _why is. That has been troubling me ever since I first found out that he's a real person, years ago.



Aur

SonOfLilit
2007-03-21 11:39:58
What I meant with "what _why has in redhanded" is that in my opinion, _why just has an almost perfect mix of content:


A lot of innovative uses of ruby and ruby libraries, introductions to all interesting new ruby projects, a bit of community gossip and social matters, some interviews with notable rubyists (I'm still waiting for more 5.gets(japanese)), and a lot of original clever ruby hacks.


He also talks from the attitude of "ruby is special, ruby is fun, ruby is wonderful, ruby is FUN" and I like it - for example, it's contageous.


That's why, to give an example, I read redhanded but don't read eigenclass, also that one also has very interesting content of the same types (minus gossip).


He really has a great great thing going there.



Aur

pate
2007-03-21 12:16:58
SonOfLilit,
I've talked a bit with ORA about running a bloggin contest with them. I just can't do anything about it until I finish the current one (it will end in June).
John
2007-03-21 12:42:29
If I see a "Ruby" blog (or resource, whatever) and all (or most) of the articles are Rails related, then I assume it's a "Rails" blog, and I don't read it.


Not that I have anything against Rails -- it's just that I don't use Ruby for web apps/database back ends, so most Rails stuff is irrelevant to me !


I use Ruby for sysadminy type of things (automated scripts/command line applications) such as managing backups, sorting IMAP folders, mailing list bots, ... So anything going into that direction would be interesting for me -- for instance (on the more practical side) how to solve common sysadmin problems, or (on the more general side) how ruby is faring in the server room, in which companies, what they do with it...


And how is Ruby doing on the desktop ? What apps are scriptable in Ruby ? Will KDE 4 Plasma be scriptable in Ruby ? ...


To be honest I haven't been reading this blog :) I just saw a link to it from the ruby ml. But it looks intresting as it is - I'll subscribe now and see how it goes (and please keep the Rails to other topic ratio acceptable! Or maybe have a separate Rails section for the very Rails specific postings.)

Erik
2007-03-21 12:53:10
* +1 for Og/Nitro vs Rails
* How to develop with RSpec without previous knowledge of Unit testing in general
* How to create a Ruby library, what is its directory structure, how should you make it available
* Ruby specific tricks, tips or extensions for VIM, Emacs or TextMate
* Whenever a new library is annnounced on CLR or RubyForge, discuss its (possible) uses with some simple example code.
James
2007-03-21 13:03:12
How about you just write code and stop spending all your time reading blogs... Reading is NO substitute for simply coding.
Mike Schwab
2007-03-21 13:14:04
It disappoints me to see examples that use ubergenerics like foo, myfunction, hello world, puts 'I am calling from the superclass'. Almost every time I wish that I could see a more realistic usage, something with real words in it that could hook on to the parts of my brain that know those words to help me remember. Trying to map all these memories and technical knowledge against the same nonsense words won't work. I understand the place of simplest case documentation, but it seems often to be a resource that needs to be referenced again and again, rather than something that just sticks. This is a general call to bloggers and doc writers, please try to use longer, meatier examples with well-chosen nouns and verbs that help us infer what is happening. In many cases this is already done. But I think many of these would benefit from still more length and context. I know brevity is part of the point in Ruby, and even a lot of real-world code is done as one-liners. Big chunks of code can cause the eyes to glaze over, blogs are supposed to be light fun, and moreover, posting opinionated content can be pretty nerve-wracking. But I still want to see more!


As for this blog in particular, more code like the things you've been posting, Greg, would suit me. I would like to see even more complex examples from the more senior authors. What are the design snags you came across, and what were your thoughts on how to proceed?

Erik
2007-03-21 13:18:00
James, because some (most?) of us have been coding all day long.
Gregory
2007-03-21 13:20:17

It disappoints me to see examples that use ubergenerics like foo, myfunction, hello world, puts 'I am calling from the superclass'. Almost every time I wish that I could see a more realistic usage, something with real words in it that could hook on to the parts of my brain that know those words to help me remember.


I've typically been pretty dismissive about this kind of stuff. I feel like abstraction is key to being a successful programmer. However, because I've heard the complaint more than a few times (not just about my work, but in general), there is a real issue here.


I must admit, real examples are more interesting most of the time.



As for this blog in particular, more code like the things you've been posting, Greg, would suit me.


Cool, someone still likes code. :)
I should have a new Digging Deep and NubyGems post this week some time.

tcol
2007-03-21 14:05:07
It would be nice to see Ruby material analogous to David Mertz's Python (Taming the Python?) material over at IBM's developer site or M.J. Dominus' material for Perl in Higer Order Perl.
James Britt
2007-03-21 14:12:33
Lyle Johnson beat me to it:


> With all due respect to Tim (and others who share his opinion), you can't sling a cat these days without hitting a blog with Rails content. ... I'd love to see more people writing about non-Rails uses of Ruby.


Of course, being on the roster of ORA bloggers, I suppose I'm in a position to scratch my own itch. But that's another matter. :)


2007-03-21 17:27:34
I'd like to see more Nuby Gems, and other things to help you get started using Ruby. Also, some articles/tutorials on lesser known Ruby libraries/programs would be really cool.

2007-03-21 19:51:19
_why has the kind of attitude about ruby and life in general that makes almost everything he writes a pleasure to read... he usually posts about things he's doing and is excited about.


I'm less interested in posts you had to think about before posting, and more interested in the everyday kind of problems you're excited about having solved. Don't ask me what I'd be interested in reading: you can't possibly guess and I probably won't know until I have read it.


Don't get discouraged by asshats, there are too many of them. Chunky bacon and lobster. GL!

Michael
2007-03-22 13:11:59
DSLs and metaprogramming magick will make my month
Brian
2007-03-22 17:03:29
I've seen a lot of how to tutorials and a lot of things about the ruby way and thought I had a grasp, then I read ajax on rails. In the code examples he gave I was blown away. He dynamically created functions and all kinds of nifty stuff. I'd like to see more intermediate/advanced tutorials, there's enough newbie stuff there. Also maybe coding challenges to get a little more user involvement.
SonOfLilit
2007-03-24 11:41:21

_why has the kind of attitude about ruby and life in general that makes almost everything he writes a pleasure to read... he usually posts about things he's doing and is excited about.


I'm less interested in posts you had to think about before posting, and more interested in the everyday kind of problems you're excited about having solved. Don't ask me what I'd be interested in reading: you can't possibly guess and I probably won't know until I have read it.


Don't get discouraged by asshats, there are too many of them. Chunky bacon and lobster. GL!


+10

JEG2
2007-03-26 09:20:51
I quit reading this blog a while back, because of the total lack of meaningful content (to me). I can see that not everyone agrees with me, but I feel a blog about a programming language should have a heavy ratio of code. I like code.
Greg
2007-03-26 09:31:52
I feel a blog about a programming language should have a heavy ratio of code. I like code.


I'm with you on this. Still, I think what we've resolved is we've got enough bloggers here that if we really wanted to, we can serve a lot of interests.


I've been writing more code posts. I've got at least one more on the way in the next couple days. :)

Brandon
2007-03-27 06:39:49
I'd like to see articles on choosing and adapting Ruby/Rails-based content management systems. First of all, why choose Mephisto/Radiant/Typo/whatever over the others: what are the pros and cons of each?


Secondly, how can I adapt/modify the CMS to fit my needs? If you don't want to or can't modify the CMS, then you have no reason to care whether it is written in Ruby or PHP or C, as long as it has the features you want. But programmers will most likely want to modify the system in some way, and it would be really helpful to know before choosing a CMS which one is most easily modified and how to do it, and what pitfalls each one has for the unwary.

JSG
2007-03-28 10:03:12
I'm really not interested Rails! Never have been - it's not the main value proposition for most of the Ruby-heads I know. That's the problem that I have with previous Ruby blog content. I mostly use Ruby for application, architecture and prototyping of non-web projects.


What I miss from O'Reilly is the kind of care-and-feeding that I used to get from 'Lex and Yacc', 'Programming Perl', etc. The gaps that O'Reilly used to fill are no longer being filled, by and large, and especially so with Ruby. Rails is a convenient marketing "beachhead" but O'Reilly seems to drunk its own Kool-Aid and forgotten its original value proposition which was part of the follow-through after the "beachhead" in the past.