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Showing posts from March, 2008

Ruby Substrings and Testing Legacy Code

Recently Josh Cronemeyer and I were working on writing a game in Ruby. Gosu, a 2D game library for Ruby and C++, and Chipmunk, a 2D Physics engine, do lots of the heavy lifting so we thought it would be a fun Saturday afternoon thing to do. However, the examples had no tests so when we tried to change some stuff, and of course it didn't work, we were all sorts of clueless as to why.

Well, wrapping tests around legacy code is not a lot of fun but it is an effective way of debugging. Here's how I like to do it:
Step one:
Identify potentially troublesome code (As in "What the hell is that doing?").
Step two:
Write some tests that verify the functionality of the code.
Step three:
Pull out the offending code into a method or methods.

There's a fair bit of interplay between steps two and three, testing one piece may require extracting it.

Step four:
Either you've found your problem or you've accomplished four things:
1. You really understand the troublesome code.
2. You…

On Inject, Complexity, and George Carlin

Inject has been stalking me for over 2 years.

The year was 2005 and I had decided that I would write a website in this new fangled Rails thing. But while debugging some plugin code I ran into inject. To my java encrusted eyes, it looked like this:

weird_thing = dont_know.inject({}) {|m, o| m[o] = some_crazy_method o; m}

Holy crap. I had no freakin' clue. I looked up the docs on inject and saw that inject, from what I could understand, was used to add up numbers in an array. Which confused me even more. Of course since then I've come to understand inject, but have remained wary as it can be awful confusing to those new to Ruby. Just recently I wrote about how some teammates and I decided against using it to shorten a method, because the particular use sacrificed readability. Then Brian Dainton wrote about how he loves inject. And finally, my team got in a rather spirited discussion over its use. One side of the argument was that it should be used with care as it's …

A Small Rails Site and Why You Should Build One

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The other day I was showing Rails off to a friend of mine who wanted to know what all the fuss was about and I realized a shocking thing: I was horrible at starting a Rails site. Why? Because for the last year or so I've been working on large, established Rails codebases. Which is kinda cool as it shows how far Rails has come, but it sucks because one of the very cool things about Rails is how much you can do in a short amount of time.
So I resolved to create and deploy a small site as a way to exercise some atrophied muscles and have some good old fun with Ruby and Rails. My father, Leslie Scruggs, is a sculptor and I had written him a pure html site back in 1999. And he maintained it editing the raw html files, creating his own thumbnails, and uploading via ftp. Not the easiest of tasks for a man in his 60's. So I created lesliescruggs.com which has an admin section so he can upload pics and get them resized and thumbnailed with 10% of the effort.
Of course I used a…