I've done my best not to haunt the mailing list so far, but it's 4am
and I blame the invention of Ruby on Rails for keeping me up at night.
So now you must bear with me or click back/next/delete.
I love rails in theory and practice, 3/4 of the 37mantras (how many
does that make?), and hanging around seeing how the community is
developing. I'm not famous or well accomplished, just a dude. I'm a
scope creep by nature, but I've learned in reality to shut my mouth.
I want to know several things. The following gives you a flavor of the
kind of things that I am awake at night thinking, but these just came
out once I hit the keyboard.
What is this? I'm not looking for a real answer. I'm looking for the
answer to the question: "How did we get to the point where we are
asking Joe to type in random numbers to satisfy a computer program."
Actually, I don't want an answer to that. I want to know "Where are the
simpler methods of identifying a person as a person when you are giving
information to a website"
You are submitting a comment on a typo blog. I don't want to give an
Email, yada yada, I want to leave a nice comment without hassle. I
click "Submit," the screen darkens, and a small and bright popup on the
page appears in a random position that says "Click on me to prove you
are a human being!"
One Click = much smaller pain in the ass than hunting and pecking on
the keyboard. Can a spider ever identify screen position of a needed
mouse click? I don't know. My point is not that I want to develop it,
but that it seems like there is a lack of chatter in the general
community on the theory level - solving small issues like this, as well
as larger issues like the next one.
I don't know. We have these discussions in private, or we just build
the damn thing, and it gets ripped off (read: recognized as being
something to build upon) and spreads virally into a convention. Like
the light-box stuff. Or ajax in general.
Rails helpers = goldmine for UI development.
But I don't see much discussion about MVC being ruined when developing
a intensely rich and interactive UI. (On a side note, I also don't see
much discussion which isn't the practical nitty-gritty of day to day
side. I mean, take an app like writely, gmail, etc - This is where web
applications are moving towards, right? Agreed? In other words, right
now, they are beta-buggy-scary, and often hacked together, but...."we"
want to see those things perfect, and that's how the world works - what
the public wants, they will get.
So, the point is, rjs has opened the door, and now we can put one foot
inside. But if you want to walk *through* that door, you need a lot
custom shit. Look at the rails apps that put ajax to heavy use - look
at what lives in their .js - Lots of crazy stuff going well beyond
Lets talk about this: I need to load and store data on the client side,
have it manipulated, and at critical moments, synced with the server. I
want to paginate data and keep it on the client-side. I know, this is
possible, but the amount of effort for execution is still very very
high. I'm just saying...I think a lot about the fact that at some point
soon, the rails helpers will (have to) evolve and grow to satisfy this
need. I'm excited.
Another way of looking at this is a challenge: Can you build a
simplified version of iTunes, but as an online app? Yes, it is possible
(maybe throw in a Flash shell to handle the audio playback, but...) Can
you build a version which isn't painful to use? Does Rails aspire to be
'capable' of building something like this in the future? Is a more
Instead of going further with more ambiguous ideas, I'm going to stop
here for now.
Instead of pushing cancel, I'm going to hit send.
Please realize that I don't want to upset anyone - if you are upset,
don't worry, you write better code than me - I'm just a lonely
programmer looking to talk *around* the ideas of the day. You know,
spend some time 'together' evaluating and chatting about things. There
always are a million 'better ways' - I would love to see more rails
folk dialogging about ideas within the larger community that go beyond
which server is better, why code is wrong or right, etc... Some of this
happens, but it seems to be more one-way communication. Blogging works,
but Diablogging is always better! Yes, it's all changing in front of
our eyes, and meanwhile we've got apps to build. Keep up! What's new?
Priorities! Build! Release! Go!
Anyone want to slow it down a bit?