An active list, but not very useful

As of this post time, there were 33 posts out of the last 120 that
were not answered.

I understand that there are a lot of RTFB type questions on this list,
but this list that has basically been useless. Where do you go to find
help on something other than a RTFB type question?

Steve Alex

Steve,

The general mailing list is pretty overwhelming to those that want to spend a bit of their time trying to help the freshman class of Rails. Probably almost as overwhelming as rails is to the people new to the framework. Personally, I’m able to make better use of my time by helping contribute on either the irc channel (#rubyonrails on irc.freenode.net) or to my local ruby users group mailing list/ irc channel. If you live in/near a large city, chances are there is a pretty decent ruby group there. A really good option for getting excellent tutelage would be to offer a post meeting beer or two for for some help before a meeting or during a ‘hack night’. The lists/irc channels tend to be less active so it’s a bit easier to find a question that’s popped up a few hours ago.

-Patrick Robertson

Thank for the reply!

I have to admit that I don't send a lot of time on this list - just
when I am stumped on something that I've spent way to much time trying
to figure out. Half the time I'll just post a question, hoping that,
even if I don't get a reply, it will drive me into figuring it out for
myself.

Unfortunately I moved to a city (Gadsden Alabama) where Ruby/Rails is
probably only known by a few and I'm probably in the top 5! I may try
the irc chat.

When I do post something, I'll hang out for a while and have even
replied to a few questions, but you are right - it is a little
overwhelming.

Rails is overwhelming - so many library calls with so many options, it
is just plain hard to learn OPC (other people's code). I may live too
much on the edge in that I'm trying to get into Rails 3. Playing with
rails for about 5 years (playing means I've written and deployed stuff
which I only partially understand), Rails 3 almost makes sense. I
feel Rails would have never gone anywhere without Ryan Bates
RailsCasts, but he is only one person trying to teach the world and
he'll use something that you had no idea it existed. The problem is
when you try to implement that new found thing in your world, you'll
still find missing knowledge.

The handle I used "AppleII717" stands for - I have Apple II serial #
717 sitting around somewhere. I spent many years being the knowledge
base for a lot of people at that time - but then you get overwhelmed.
I was just looking for that knowledge base for Rails.

Steve Alex

Guys,

A very interesting post since I was thinking along exactly the same
lines. It is apparent that there is now a very different type of
poster within even the last three months who often have some very
basic questions, most of which are answered when you RTFB. I notice
posts are increasingly:

- about not being able to read error messages
- expecting the documentation to be very clear (I often find it
difficult to navigate around various ReadMe's and the RDOC can be
quite cumbersome)
- posts are now coming from developers and not programmers, the former
copy and paste software together and the latter tend to understand the
principles of the language and framework and write code.
- is there plugin for ....
- how do you deploy ..... without any idea about Capistrano
- CSS and HTML questions (BTW go and check out http://www.yaml.de/en/)

As the old addage goes, adopt when software gets to version 3! It
looks to me that Rails has gone mainstream and this brings with it a
whole different set of support requirements for the users in terms of
books, tutorials (e.g. the excellent Railscasts), formal training
courses, better online documentation, commercial support contracts and
so on. Is it here that the commercial "competitors" win out in terms
of certification programmes, support, training delivery, adoption by
mainstream Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Service Providers?
Could this be the next challenge for the Rails community to step up
to? Specifically, the resources need to help the developer community
are very different from the early adopter programmers.

For me personally, the list does provide the occasional insight and I
have been helped many times and try to reciprocate when possible.
However, at present I tend to read articles and blog posts on
interesting Rails and associated topics from http://railsposts.com and
other sites. I am not sure a mailing list really works well for
"design principles and interesting insights and developments". For
example I am looking for articles and case studies on the following:

- Integrating Rails/Ruby with a rules engine (for pricing or workflow)
without having to go the Jruby, JBoss rules route.
- What really is the big deal with REST (Yes I have RTFB). As far as
I can work out it is all about caching content and maintaining a
stable API but I cannot really see the Wow factor.
- Rails for mobile devices
- Some reasons why I would need to understand Rack.

It really is an exciting time for both Ruby and Rails. Mainstream
adoption moves the goalposts for the community and presents a new
challenge. I am not sure whether this is being discussed and planned
somewhere in the community. I hope it is.

O.

AppleII717 wrote:

Thank for the reply!

I have to admit that I don't send a lot of time on this list

Then where the hell do you get off complaining about the utility of the
list? Please get to know the community before you complain about it.

[...]

When I do post something, I'll hang out for a while and have even
replied to a few questions, but you are right - it is a little
overwhelming.

Rails is overwhelming - so many library calls with so many options,

It can be. Read the guides and the docs again. It is possible to learn
it even without external help -- I know because that's what I did. It
wasn't exactly easy, though.

it
is just plain hard to learn OPC (other people's code).

That's true in any language. Well-written Ruby is actually easier to
deal with in that regard than most other languages I'm familiar with.

I may live too
much on the edge in that I'm trying to get into Rails 3.

Perhaps.

Playing with
rails for about 5 years (playing means I've written and deployed stuff
which I only partially understand),

That's a bad thing right there. Why would you deploy an application
that you didn't understand? What is it that you don't understand?

Rails 3 almost makes sense. I
feel Rails would have never gone anywhere without Ryan Bates
RailsCasts, but he is only one person trying to teach the world and
he'll use something that you had no idea it existed.

Sometimes, yes.

The problem is
when you try to implement that new found thing in your world, you'll
still find missing knowledge.

Ryan (or anyone else here, I think) is not going to spoon-feed you. It
is up to you to take the hints given to you and get the missing
knowledge. If you're stuck, please ask questions, but show that you've
taken some initiative before doing so.

The handle I used "AppleII717" stands for - I have Apple II serial #
717 sitting around somewhere.

Neat!

I spent many years being the knowledge
base for a lot of people at that time - but then you get overwhelmed.
I was just looking for that knowledge base for Rails.

I think you've found it -- but you may not be using it correctly. Or
people may not know how to answer your questions. If I recall
correctly, some of them are on fairly sophisticated, specialized topics
that no one may know the answer to!

Steve Alex

On Jul 27, 7:58�pm, Patrick Robertson <patricksrobert...@gmail.com>

Best,

AppleII717 wrote:
> Thank for the reply!

> I have to admit that I don't send a lot of time on this list

Then where the hell do you get off complaining about the utility of the
list? Please get to know the community before you complain about it.

I guess because I knew I'd get a response like this! - but you weren't
to harsh and provided me some insights. Rails is also a "hobby" for
me. I've retired and only experiment with Rails when I get bored of
doing nothing or tired of working on my "money pit".
[...]

> Rails is overwhelming - so many library calls with so many options,

It can be. Read the guides and the docs again. It is possible to learn
it even without external help -- I know because that's what I did. It
wasn't exactly easy, though.

> it is just plain hard to learn OPC (other people's code).

That's true in any language. Well-written Ruby is actually easier to
deal with in that regard than most other languages I'm familiar with.

I think you hit on the major weakness and greatness of Rails - Ruby.

Great in that it is an amazing language.

Weak in that, with scaffolding and generators, I feel most users,
including me, are weak on Ruby. Yea, I can do all the basics
(conditions, loops, etc) but I think a large segment of those trying
to use this list have never written a Module with Classes etc.

> I may live too
> much on the edge in that I'm trying to get into Rails 3.

Perhaps.

> Playing with
> rails for about 5 years (playing means I've written and deployed stuff
> which I only partially understand),

That's a bad thing right there. Why would you deploy an application
that you didn't understand? What is it that you don't understand?

Because Rails did most of the work and it worked! Without going into a
lot of history, deployed in my case was a helper application that
managed golf scores for a small golf group that I'm a member of. It
was almost an intranet on the internet, it has no use to anyone
outside that group. I've written that application in about 4 different
languages and the Rails 1.x version has been out there for about 3
years. Unfortunately it was PHP code converted and wrapped in a Rails
MVC. I did have plans of making the application available to other
groups, but never got there. Over the last month or so, I rewrote/re-
factored it into Rails3 (dePHPed!). Still not ready for the world
<http://maxwell.golfgaggle.com>, but I used a number of Gems etc that
I never used before. Probably the reason for the flurry of posts and
my quest to find information on Rails3 - which I think most would
agree, is limited at this time.

[...]

I think you've found it -- but you may not be using it correctly. Or
people may not know how to answer your questions. If I recall
correctly, some of them are on fairly sophisticated, specialized topics
that no one may know the answer to!

Thanks for the reply. You are right in that I need to RTFB a little
more. I even dug out the “Poignant Guide to Ruby” and will try to
improve my understanding.

Steve Alex

AppleII717 wrote:

I think you hit on the major weakness and greatness of Rails - Ruby.

Great in that it is an amazing language.

Weak in that, with scaffolding and generators, I feel most users,
including me, are weak on Ruby. Yea, I can do all the basics
(conditions, loops, etc) but I think a large segment of those trying
to use this list have never written a Module with Classes etc.

Agreed (mostly). I constantly counsel friends picking up RoR to start
small, and use the old

ruby script/generate scaffold person first_name:string last_name:string
rake db:migrate

then actually go look at all the generated code to understand HOW it
works - migrations, controllers, views, models, routes.

Recently, I've seen a lot of posts where it feels like attempted running
in rails when the person doesn't seem to have tied their shoes yet...
("I've never looked at routes.rb, but I want my sexy routes to look like
this, tell me how" or "I typed in exactly what you said and it didn't
work")

And a simple "I wanna do X. Please feed me code" doesn't elicit much of
a response from me other than to point them to a simple Google search
they should have done BEFORE asking for assistance. Even if the answer
is on the first linked page, I want them to go perform a bit of due
diligence themselves.

And oftentimes, people are simply working in an area I don't know much
about, so I won't reply.

I don't work on a Mac, so that whole family of configuration questions
is out, haven't used Postgres or SQLite, so that eliminates another
batch. And I'm sure the same applies to lots of other folks. When you
look at it, there are far more questioners than answerers, this is
volunteered time, and we are in the middle of vacation season. Just the
nature of the beast.

Thanks for the reply. You are right in that I need to RTFB a little
more. I even dug out the �Poignant Guide to Ruby� and will try to
improve my understanding.

Always good to Read The Fine Manual... :slight_smile:
Sometimes I check the forum just to read posts and replies, which can be
equally enlightening.

AppleII717 wrote:
[...]

I think you hit on the major weakness and greatness of Rails - Ruby.

And I think you've just hit on your problem. There is no such thing as
"Rails - Ruby". Rails is built on top of Ruby, but you have to know
both the basic language and the framework in order to use the
combination effectively.

Great in that it is an amazing language.

Yup.

Weak in that, with scaffolding and generators, I feel most users,
including me, are weak on Ruby.

I notice that a lot too -- a lot of people seem to hear about teh shiny
Railz magik, and try to work with Rails without having a good idea of
Ruby. That is a recipe for failure: you can't do nontrivial work in
Rails without a basic understanding of the Ruby language.

Yea, I can do all the basics
(conditions, loops, etc) but I think a large segment of those trying
to use this list have never written a Module with Classes etc.

Rails was my introduction to Ruby development, so I hadn't either. But
I made sure I understood how the language basically worked before trying
to understand the framework.

[...]

That's a bad thing right there. �Why would you deploy an application
that you didn't understand? �What is it that you don't understand?

Because Rails did most of the work and it worked! Without going into a
lot of history, deployed in my case was a helper application that
managed golf scores for a small golf group that I'm a member of. It
was almost an intranet on the internet, it has no use to anyone
outside that group. I've written that application in about 4 different
languages and the Rails 1.x version has been out there for about 3
years. Unfortunately it was PHP code converted and wrapped in a Rails
MVC.

Yuuuuuck (at least potentially). I learned Rails by porting a PHP
(Fusebox MVC) application, but I deliberately didn't port any of the PHP
code: I copied the functionality, but did so by completely rewriting
from scratch. I didn't want to write PHP in Ruby or Fusebox in Rails.

I did have plans of making the application available to other
groups, but never got there. Over the last month or so, I rewrote/re-
factored it into Rails3 (dePHPed!). Still not ready for the world
<http://maxwell.golfgaggle.com>, but I used a number of Gems etc that
I never used before. Probably the reason for the flurry of posts and
my quest to find information on Rails3 - which I think most would
agree, is limited at this time.

Yes. I think it's risky to base an application on a prerelease version
of the framework.

[...]

Thanks for the reply.

You're welcome!

You are right in that I need to RTFB a little
more. I even dug out the �Poignant Guide to Ruby� and will try to
improve my understanding.

I've found the Pickaxe Book far more useful than the Poignant Guide.
YMMV.

Steve Alex

Best,