Read my latest article: 8 things I look for in a Ruby on Rails app (posted Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:59:00 GMT)

Catching a train to RailsConf

Posted by Thu, 25 May 2006 21:04:00 GMT

4 comments Latest by Joe Grossberg Fri, 26 May 2006 19:48:02 GMT

We’re finally getting our confirmations for who is coming to RailsConf with the team at PLANET ARGON via the peace train Argon Express. We’re departing Portland, Oregon on June 19th… the names of people who confirm are being added to the site.

...this should be fun… and you can still join us if you act soon!

The Podcast... revisited

Posted by Tue, 23 May 2006 04:11:00 GMT

I saw that you could embed ODEO into your blog… so I figured that I would do it.

If you never got to hear Jeremy and I on the Ruby on Rails Podcast... now is your chance!

powered by ODEO

We discussed Ruby on Rails, PLANET ARGON, PostgreSQL, and all things in between… enjoy!

The Daily Stand Up

Posted by Tue, 23 May 2006 03:57:00 GMT

12 comments Latest by Scott Berkun Tue, 22 Aug 2006 02:17:19 GMT

I’ll admit it. I’ve never read a book that outlines that SCRUM process in detail but do have a copy of The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun. In chapter ten, Berkun points out the purpose of having meetings as well as the annoyances that surround them. Over the past six months, we have toyed around with a few different approaches to holding meetings. There was a short period of time where we really weren’t sure what the best way to get company-wide information to everyone without boring them to death once a month or week.

A few months ago we tried something totally crazy… daily meetings! It caught on rather well.

There is one rule though, nobody can sit down. :-)

We hold a meeting every day at the same time and do not make any exceptions. Well, I will admit that we’ve missed two or three in the past several months but overall, we’re very good at keeping to the schedule.

So, how does this process work?

Each morning, I spend about 15 minutes preparing for a 10 minute meeting… which also is how I build my list for the day. This list appears on an index card as I keep it with me throughout the whole day. I also keep the previous and next days card with me so that I can make sure that things that didn’t get done yesterday get done today or tomorrow. Some of these tasks end up on BaseCamp or just get checked off as I complete the task.

Each morning at 9:15 AM PST (now you know where we are when we aren’t working or on IRC), we meet in our conference room and stand in something that looks similar to a circle. I wait until everybody finds their way into the conference room and then say, “Good morning!” I then do go over the following things (and use my index cards to keep me on topic)...

  • What did I do yesterday (or Friday/weekend)?
  • What will I do today?

Then the person who decided to stand next to me follows and we do this around the room… I think the order this morning was:

  • Robby
  • Jeremy
  • Brian
  • Jason
  • David
  • Allison

This is a good time to also bring up any thing that might be useful for everyone to hear… such as, “we got a new development contract signed yesterday!” or “client x will be on-site at 1:30 PM.” Along with this, we’re able to ask questions about other peoples work and act as a sanity check. Why the stand up? Nobody likes to just stand around for too long… when you stand up you avoid getting too comfortable and people are more likely to stay on topic and focused.

The meetings typically last 10-15 minutes and if you’re not doing something like this with your team… how do you cope on a daily basis?

Small Is Beautiful

Posted by Mon, 22 May 2006 10:20:00 GMT

5 comments Latest by Shane Vitarana Tue, 06 Jun 2006 19:07:53 GMT

Some people have habits that are hard to break. Mine is that I tend to pick up books off of our bookshelf…okay…90% of the books are my fiances… but I’ll take one and just open it and start reading. The problem with this is that I really don’t make (or find) enough time to start at the beginning and finish each book. I often end up just opening up to a random section and reading a few pages until I realize that I’m totally lost or until I find something interesting to think more about. Occasionally… I finish the book.

One such book that I am reading is Small is Beautiful by E.F. Schumacher, which was written in 1973. The topic of the book? “Economics as if People Mattered.”

The other day I read a section about developing nations, which has always been a topic of interest to me. I’m going to take a step away from the topic of the book and extract something that the author said that caught my interest.

“We tend to think of development, not in terms of evolution, but in terms of creation.”

When I read this… I know that this isn’t referencing application development but development of third-world nations… however it got me thinking. Is it our tendency to try and plan things the whole way through so that we can follow through and create the definitive and ideal solution in one try? This is exactly how some development processes work. Gather requirements, develop one monolithic plan, and implement it. This process can take a half of a year to several… depending on the size of the company. Perhaps there is very little difference between the three year project and the three month, except the smaller team and lapse of time. Could it be that when we admit that we know that requirements will change over time and if we take an iterative approach that we will be better prepared and more open to change?

...and perhaps the following quote could be applied to the topic of good usability...

“An entirely new system of thought is needed, a system based on attention to people, and not primarily attention to goods. . . .” - E.F. Schumacher

Development should be an evolutionary process… and real people should be where we focus our attention to.

...what are your thoughts?

Rails i18n Gets a Mailing List

Posted by Sun, 14 May 2006 20:31:00 GMT

2 comments Latest by Bernd Schmeil Thu, 18 May 2006 07:39:41 GMT

Last month, Jeremy gave a presentation up at Canada on Rails on Internationalization and Ruby on Rails, which showed the audience that you could use the Globalize plugin to provide i18n support to your Rails application. But wait, Rails doesn’t include native support for i18n. Why not? This is actually asked quite frequently on the Ruby on Rails mailing list and has been an anti-Rails argument point for quite some time.

So, why doesn’t the Rails framework have built-in i18n support? There is actually an easy answer to this.

One Size Does Not Fit All

I look at i18n much in the same way that I view authentication. Each application has it’s own set of special cases and requirements. The acts_as_authenticated plugin might work great but what do you mean it doesn’t authenticate against a LDAP server? Why doesn’t it have a complicated ACL schema? This is where you are left to keep searching for another available plugin or roll your own. Often times, it’s quicker to do things the way you need them to work than to search, review, implement, and test a plugin that someone else wrote. However, there is good reason to use plugins… especially when you become comfortable with them and begin extracted plugins from your application that you can reuse in other applications that you develop.

With internationalization you will find yourself reviewing numerous options that have been developed by the Rails community. People ask on the mailing list, “Will Rails core include i18n support?” No. Why not? Well, there isn’t one solution that solves all problems. They each have their pros and cons. At PLANET ARGON we are using the Globalize plugin for every project that requires i18n support, but we have talked to others who find it to be too much for what they need. It’s a matter of the context in which it is needed. For example, the applications that we have been developing that require i18n support went beyond just needing to have various labels, headers, and application text be available in multiple languages. The applications required that all content have different translations. For example, a biography of the Brasil soccer team has 18 translations that Globalize allows the applications administrators to manage. Other i18n solutions use the gettext/text file approach, which doesn’t solve the problem that we were faced with. Globalize works great with ActiveRecord and we’ve been using it with PostgreSQL with great success.

As the Rails core team isn’t aiming to solve this problem… much like I don’t expect them to solve the problem of interacting with Legacy systems… it pushes the responsibility on developers to make educated decisions on what will solve their problem. However, when there are a good number of i18n options available, how do you know which one to use?

Help is on the way, as Martin Bernd Schmeil has started a mailing list for those who wish to talk more about i18n and Ruby on Rails. If you’ve had experience working with i18n and would like to help those who are seeking the right solution for their specific needs, you might consider offering your assistance on the mailing list.

For more information on the various i18n options for Ruby on Rails, visit:

Of course, you can always contact PLANET ARGON to have us help your team solve the problem. :-)

PLANET ARGON Monthly Newsletter, May 10, 2006

Posted by Sun, 14 May 2006 12:56:00 GMT

(copy/pasted from email)

  • New Business Level Rails Hosting Plans
  • New Rails Application Audit Service
  • Jeremy Signs Book Deal with O’Reilly
  • Robby and Jeremy speak at Canada on Rails
  • Ruby on Rails Podcast features PLANET ARGON
  • Project Borat
  • New Face at PLANET ARGON
  • New PLANET ARGON Documentation Project
  • Upcoming Events

New Business Level Rails Hosting Plans Launched

As a PLANET ARGON newsletter subscriber you are one of the first to hear about our new suite of business class hosting plans. Are you are seeking a cost effective solution for hosting your business critical Rails application, but aren’t ready for a dedicated server? Our Rails Business Hosting plans are just what you are looking for! More bandwidth, more disk space, more ram and fewer neighbors. Forget about the perils of sharing a server with a couple hundred users. The Rails Business Hosting plans limit the number of users on a server to no more than 15.

“All of the service and support of a shared server,” says David Gibbons, PLANET ARGON’s Lead Systems Administrator. “You’ll never have to worry about the headaches of server administration, but you still reap the benefits from being one of a select few having to share resources.”

For more information on the Rails Business Hosting plans, please visit:

New Rails Audit Service

PLANET ARGON has a new service for businesses building web applications with Ruby on Rails: A $2500, 48 hour turn-around code audit and analysis.

“We built this service specifically for businesses wanting expert advice on how to improve and optimize their Rails applications,” says Peat Bakke, the Project Director at PLANET ARGON. “A little guidance makes a big difference, especially with development teams who are new to Rails.”

The audit provides recommendations tailored to your Rails application that might include optimizing database interactions, improving test coverage, simplifying AJAX interactions, automation with Rake, RESTful behaviors, and plugins.

For more information on our new audit service, contact us today:

Jeremy Signs Book Deal with O’Reilly

We are very excited to announce that Jeremy Voorhis, PLANET ARGON’s very own Lead Architect, has signed a deal with leading technical book publisher, O’Reilly Media. Jeremy will be writing Rails in a Nutshell, part of the popular Nutshell series. This means that PLANET ARGON has not one, but two authors writing books about Ruby on Rails! Congratulations Jeremy!

For more information and to sign up for email updates, visit:

Robby and Jeremy speak at Canada on Rails

Where were Robby and Jeremy on April 14? They were both speaking at the Canada on Rails conference in Vancouver, BC. Robby presented Sneaking Rails through the (Legacy) System, and Jeremy talked about Globalizing Rails.

Robby shared his insight about bending ActiveRecord’s conventions to work with a legacy database and gave a live demonstration of how this could be done with Dell’s freely available video store database. Check out the presentation slides for Sneaking Rails through the (Legacy) System at

Jeremy shared his experiences from developing and using the Globalize plugin to internationalize Rails applications. This covers the Globalize basics as well as tips and tricks for designing your application. View the presentation for Internationalizing Rails at

PLANET ARGON currently has a site in production that supports 18 languages and is fully translatable through the web. PLANET ARGON is also the hosting sponsor of the Globalize project, which can be found at

For those of you who were unable to join us in Vancouver, Robby has collected informative links from Canada on Rails including many of the speakers’ slides. Check it out at:

Even better, you can hear more from both Robby and Jeremy at RailsConf in Chicago this June.

Ruby on Rails Podcast features PLANET ARGON

Be sure to check out one of the latest Ruby on Rails Podcasts recorded in Vancouver, BC at the Canada on Rails conference earlier in April. Jeremy Voorhis and Robby Russell, both speakers at the event, had a chance to sit down with Geoffrey Grosenbach to discuss PLANET ARGON development practices, projects, deployment, books, and our involvement in the the Rails community.

Listen now!

Project Borat

Project Borat is a top secret development project here at PLANET ARGON. It’s a big project with high expectations, a fairly tight delivery schedule, an open ended feature set, and flexible priorities. The Client has extensive startup experience, expertise in the target market and some rather good ideas.

What is it? We can’t tell you. Who’s The Client? We can’t say. What does it do? Sorry. When will we see it? Nope.

How are you building it? Ahh .. yes. That’s something we will enthusiastically blog about in the months to come.

Check out Robby’s first installment at:

PLANET ARGON Documentation Project

David Gibbons, PLANET ARGON’s resident Systems Administrator, recently launched a new website for the PLANET ARGON hosting community, which hopes to bring together the PLANET ARGON staff and customers to develop some first class documentation for managing your hosting account at PLANET ARGON. Tutorials ranging from installing PostgreSQL to using Capistrano with PLANET ARGON have been created and maintained by many of our customers. We encourage all our existing customers to stop by and see how you can help out and hopefully you’ll learn a few tricks!

A big thank you goes out to the PLANET ARGON customers who have helped seed the project and to those of you who will continue to build upon it.

Visit the PLANET ARGON Documentation Project:


The demand for Ruby on Rails development is growing, and PLANET ARGON is growing to meet the demand! Meet Brian Ford, the newest addition to our development team. He’s not on our about page yet, but in the meantime you can check out his blog at (

Upcoming Events

Until next time—


Robby, Allison, Jeremy, David, Jason, Peat, and Brian

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