The rise of a new site

Since my time in Vanguard was very short I never really got around to play much with Ruby on Rails. I suppose I could continue to work on that project just for the hell of it. But I know myself well enough to know that for spare time projects I work better if I have a personal use for the project. So here comes a new one.

I replaced Vanguard with Lord of the Rings Online and it turns out the community tools are not all that developed. In fact there is a forum for each server and that’s pretty much it. So it’s up to the inhabitants of the servers to figure out how to organize their community and how they want to communicate with each other.

So far we have had forum stickies of kinships and events that one person took the responsibility of updating. This has rarely worked well because we all just want to play the game really. Spending a lot of time on manually updating lists becomes boring after a while. And even the most dedicated people still have other things to do in their spare time anyway.

So I figured it was a good project to work on in Rails. And now it is sort of live here: lotro.houseofkenja.com.

I made some improvements from my previous flirt with Rails. I now have both a development and a production database. And I use the database migration tools in Rails to make update my production database with the latest developments. The latter still takes some effort to get right tho. Since it is much easier to build databases directly in the development database than writing migration files. So I have to hash out the migration files after developing the code… Not too smart as they then don’t get tested much before I release the code to production. But maybe I just haven’t found tools yet to make this easer.

One issue with Rails that came up today is really mind-boggling tho. Having coded Java for years I am so used to not having to work much with character encodings. Everything Java does is in Unicode so you just need to handle the places where things come in and out of it. And mostly it is easy to take care of.

Turns out Rails is not quite ready for the Global Village idea. On an app where everything runs in UTF-8 I still had to apply some hacks to actually get the text displayed correctly. Turns out Rails (or Ruby?) has no support for encodings so it messed up UTF-8 names coming out of my database even tho the web pages are also encoded in UTF-8. Annoying but it seems the hacks work. So one can live with it.

Apart from that I have no real new things to say about Rails. I am getting a feeling that even tho the framework gets a lot of hype it seems there is not that much community around it. Specifically I am finding a lot of stale ‘documentation’ on their WIKI and I find it hard to Google myself to straight answers. And a lot of the community solutions to common issues seems half-baked and either dead or crawling very slowly. I suppose I have been pampered in the Java world where a lot of companies are sponsoring projects and people have had a lot longer to come up with good solutions.

Well. More from the battle-front as this project develops.

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