I just do what they tell me to

by Suw on September 27, 2006

So whilst I was at EuroOSCON, I had a chat with a few people about an idea for a website I have. Well, not really a website, more of a web app. One person I chatted to was Rob McKinnon, who managed to convince me that I could do the whole thing myself in Ruby on Rails. I explained how my programming skills are, in general, sub-incompetant, but he convinced me that I'm qualified enough to play with Rails and that I might even actually be over-qualified.
I'm not really sure I believe that. I mean, sure, yeah, I used to tinker with Perl, Python, JavaScript, (and, way back when, Basic), but whilst I could adapt other people's work, I could never write anything from scratch myself. Tinkering is, of course, where you start when you're learning how to code (which is one reason why software patents are such a stupendously bad idea, but that's another discussion), but there are important steps that come after tinkering, including sucessfully sticking together chunks of stuff you've got from other people, and finally, being able to create new, original scripts. I never really got that far up the learning curve. (Actually, to be honest, I stood well back from the learning curve and thought 'Oh, my, that looks a bit steep…')
So now I've decided that my web app is going to be my baby. I am going to code it, as much as I can. I'm going to learn Ruby on Rails, and whatever chunks of MySQL and CSS and whatever else I need to get a prototype web app up and running.
There will be confusion, yes. In fact, there already has been confusion, within about the first five minutes. Thanks Matt, for introducing me to Locomotive and helping me get started. Now, sitting on a plane to Lisbon, there is further confusion, but I'll have to wait til I land to sort that out, which is annoying because I thought I was doing really well.
There will be frustration. Again, actually, there already is frustration, but it's healthy. It's making me want to work harder on this, not give up, so that's ok.
There will be cursing and screaming and pulling of hair (mine, I hope, not anyone else's). This may actually be entertaining for you if you enjoy that sort of thing, so I'm considering selling tickets.
And eventually, there will be success.
Meantime, however, I have Agile Web Development with Rails, by Dave Thomas and David Heinemeier Hansson and I have already worked my way through creating my first 'Hello World' app. It was easy. Once I got Locomotive going, and was accessing the right version of Ruby, all I really had to do was do what they told me to in the book. That's not just easy, it's easypeasy.
Now I have a MySQL hiccup to get over, but once that's sorted I'll be away working on their example shopping cart web app. I'm already designing my tables and thinking about how my own app is going to work, and am eager to start actually playing with that, but until I have MySQL working properly, I am slightly stuck.
I will keep you up to date on my development.
Pun intended.

Anonymous September 28, 2006 at 9:17 am

This is a good walkthrough for installing all the Ruby on Rails components on a Mac: http://hivelogic.com/articles/2005/12/01/ruby_rails_lighttpd_mysql_tiger

Anonymous September 29, 2006 at 3:07 pm

Ah yes, I tried to get MySQL up and running once, but it completely flummoxed me. Perhaps I was handicapped by too many years in Oracle database development. Or perhaps I was just being thick. If you figure it out, let me know.

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