Geek Smithology

September 12, 2006

Enterprise Ruby Pragmatic Studio, Day 2

Filed under: Ruby by Nathan @ 9:45 pm

(Go check out Day 1)

I know what you’re thinking – why wasn’t the day 2 report up on day 2 (for those of you reading this in the future, I used my 1337 h4X0r sK1LLz to make this post appear to have been posted on the 12th, but that wasn’t the case.) Well, it turns out that even though I thought 2 hours was no big deal in the vast sea of jet lag, I was wrong in ways that only a 32-year-old with a severe case of temporal hubris can be. After typing out the Day 1 missive, I proceeded to not sleep. So after day 2, I didn’t do much else. ’nuff said.

Day 2 expanded on Rinda, our end of Day 1 topic. We explored the world of the Rinda ring server, which let’s you forage into the ether looking for tuple sockets to which you may attach (while that sounds vaguely lewd, I assure you that there is no fetish of which I am aware that could make Rinda erotic.) I’ll avoid the obvious Tolkien and less obvious Niven puns here – goodness knows we didn’t at the studio. Far from making you all powerful (and invisible, like Jessica Alba) these rings function like nameservers, letting you find shared tuple spaces by name. I am so attracted to this in theory, but I just can’t think of a practical use (where I wouldn’t desire a more robust technology, that is.)

Next we played in the wonderful world of HTTP. We wrote a web server in a few lines of code (which blew my mind when I first saw it done in Perl several years ago, but appears to have become de rigeur if you want anyone to take your scripting language seriously) using WEBrick. There were a few jabs at Tomcat, but to suggest[1] that WEBrick has even a small fraction of the utility of Tomcat is beyond even the most devout Rubyist (I wouldn’t put it past Perl Hackers, tho’) Then we played with HTTP::Client, which let us talk over the web using Ruby. More of an “of course” than a “ooooh, sweet!”

LDAP. The technology we all love to hate. Well, I don’t hate the technology, I just hate the specification. cn? dn? oid? OY! The good: there are some really cool tools for helping you work with LDAP, along the same lines as our old friend ActiveRecord from the rails world. The bad: You need a rather specifically designed schema for it to work, along the same lines as our old friend ActiveRecord from the rails world. The ugly: If you have a legacy system, you probably do not have the right schema, along the same lines as our old friend ActiveRecord from the rails world. Getting this lab to run under windows was quite a pain, which is disturbing – if Ruby wants to be a serious contender to Java, its tools gotta work somewhere other than *nix.

SOA. Love or hate the buzzword, we’ve all gotta deal with services. And I’ll bet you a tidy sum that at least some of those services will be on the web. And in a world that created the specification for LDAP, I’m shocked to learn that these services running over the web are called web services. Support for producing and consuming web services between Ruby clients is dead simple, very clean, and it just works. In a world of ever mutating WS-* standards and the wonderful world of SOAP, Stuart and Justin admitted that there would be a lot of manual work involved to keep up. The bright side is that it will only be a couple lines of code. That said, Ruby does the things it’s supposed to, like auto generate your WSDL and make it incredibly easy to play with the headers. If you have some scripts that need to make use of web services, this would definitely be quicker with SOAP4r than equivalent apis in Java or .NET, but I wouldn’t do a back end or mission critical pipeline service with it yet (and that’s not even worrying about transactions, but that’s for later)

And that was Day 2. One of these things I love about these conferences is getting to talk to other developers (and developers “in the know” – the average calibre of people doing Ruby, finding out about this conference, and getting out to Boston is pretty high). In addition to Stuart and Justin, Mike Clark is here and I had lunch with him today. Good talks about Rails and hearing what other people out there are doing with Ruby in general.

[1] At this moment, the power went out. Thank goodness for laptops and their battery power. Boston (well, the wee part of Boston where I am) is dark.

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