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

RubyURL meets Zombies!

Posted by Tue, 22 Apr 2008 15:43:00 GMT

Last Friday, Greg Borenstein sent me a link to ZombieURL after it got launched. The folks at Bottlecap Labs took RubyURL and threw in Zombies… the rest you’ll have to see for yourself.

There… I warned you.

You can check out the source code for ZombieURL on GitHub

You can also grab the underlying source code for RubyURL on GitHub.

I’d love to see what other fun things people come up with to do with RubyURL.

Review: Braintree

Posted by Wed, 16 Apr 2008 19:58:00 GMT

Zack Chandler (author of the TrustCommerce gem) writes..

“How do you like Braintree? I’ve haven’t used them yet but may in the future…”

Good question. I was actually planning to write up a quick review of their exceptional service because not many people know about them yet. Now is as good of a time as any.

We’ve been using Authorize.NET for over four years as it’s what our primary banking institution hooked us up with when we began researching merchant services. However, they didn’t provide us with some of the subscription-based management features that we found with some other payment gateways and we began referring our customers to TrustCommerce. We planned to switch over to TrustCommerce with the development of Cobalt (our new billing and hosting support platform).

After we began to set milestones for going live with Cobalt, I tried to get in touch with TrustCommerce. I was provided a demo account and really wanted to get in touch with their sales department to get an application.

...a week goes by. No response. So, I tried to contact them again. No response. tried again… and (yet) again… no response. To date, I have yet to hear back from them.

This was echoed by one of our consulting clients that said, “their support staff seems real responsive, but I can’t get ahold of anyone to actually get an account.” So, I planned to start looking at other options or stick with Authorize.NET.

..and then (as if they were listening to my thoughts)... I receive an email from Bryan Johnson, founder of Braintree, a payment processing company.


“I am the founder of Braintree, a payment processing company. We provide credit card and electronic check processing, simplified PCI DSS Compliance through remote storage of credit card data, payment gateway/virtual terminal, etc. We’re a one stop shop.”

He goes on to introduce himself and explain that they’re really focused on subscription-based services, which is exactly what our new centralized billing app is handling.

So, since I hadn’t heard from TrustCommerce, I requested a demo with Braintree. We were able to take advantage of the hard work that has put into the ActiveMerchant project, which already works with Braintree. So, our application that we’d been focusing on integrating with TrustCommerce was just a few lines of code away from working with Braintree.

While I’m sure that many people have had great experiences with TrustCommerce (as I did when I worked with their support team while working client projects)... not being able to order an account isn’t doing them any favors.

So, we just launched and now running Cobalt with Braintree as our backend for managing recurring credit card processing. Their customer support has been great so far. In one case, I messed up some security settings and locked myself out and after they saw that I had failed to login a few times, I received a call from one of their support people. I didn’t prompt it… they took the initiative to call me. She said she’d look into it and called me back when she figured out what I had done wrong. :-)

On Monday afternoon, after I announced that we launched Cobalt on my blog, I got a congratulations from another of their developers who congratulated us and wished us the best of success.

So… Zack. To answer your question, “How do you like Braintree?”

My answer is… I think they’re fantastic so far. Their web interface for managing your account could use a few IxD eyes, but we like that it’s minimal and most importantly… the core functions of their product appear to be working great. Our team has now talked to roughly 5-6 different team members at Braintree and have nothing but great things to say about those interactions. Great customer service that definitely seems to echo that they want their customers to be successful and are here to do what they can to provide us with the tools we need to fulfill our goals.

I only wish that we had the same service from all of our vendors.

Bryan, thanks for introducing yourself. You have a great team.

Related Posts

Boxcar Conductor: Rails deployment made easy

Posted by Tue, 15 Apr 2008 16:16:00 GMT

In a previous post, I showed how we’ve been working on an interactive deployment process for Rails applications to reduce the time it takes to deploy to a Boxcar.

We began to move our Boxcar deployment recipes into it’s own Rails plugin and just made it available on GitHub.

Introducing Boxcar Conductor

The Boxcar Conductor plugin aims to automate the entire process for deploying to your Boxcar. We’re down to just a few simple commands to run to get your application up and running. While mileage may vary with other hosting providers, we did want to open up this work to the community and centralize our work with the community of Boxcar customers who have helped us build and test these tools.

Install Boxcar Conductor

If you’re running on Edge Rails… you can take advantage of the new support for installing plugins in git repositories.

  $ ./script/plugin install git://

note: If you’re not using edge rails, you can download a tarball and install the plugin manually.

Installing the plugin will add a custom Capfile and config/deploy.rb, which has a few things for you to define based on your Boxcar subscription.

Configure Your Boxcar

Once the plugin is installed, you can run the following task:

  $ cap boxcar:config

This will ask you a few questions about your deployment needs.

Uploaded with plasq’s Skitch!
  • Which database server will you be using? (along with db user/pass info)
  • How many mongrels should run in your cluster?

After a few quick multiple choice answers, you’re application is ready to be deployed and you can run an Boxcar-specific deployment task.

  $ cap deploy

We’ve also created a new public project on Lighthouse so that you can submit tickets and ideas to us. With Boxcar, we’re really aiming to remove as many steps from the deployment process that aren’t necessary.

To follow along, visit the project on lighthouse or GitHub.

If you’re interested in learning more about Rails Boxcar, feel free to drop us a line.

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Announcing Cobalt and monthly subscriptions for Boxcar

Posted by Mon, 14 Apr 2008 14:24:00 GMT

We’ve been designing and developing a new centralized billing platform over the past few months and late last week, we launched it! Along with this new billing platform, we launched another new application, Cobalt, which is a new account management and support tool for our hosting customers.

Cobalt - account management
Uploaded with plasq’s Skitch!

We’ll be migrating all of our past customers over to this new system in time, but are initially using it for new Boxcar customers.

We’ve been building the new system to use Braintree as our new credit card payment gateway. With this switch, we’re also introducing monthly subscription rates for Boxcar, which means that you can try it out month-to-month now.

Over the next few weeks/months, we’ll be announcing several features to Cobalt that will ease your Rails deployment experience.

I want to thank all those on my team that helped get these new applications up and running.

If you’re looking for professional VPS-based Rails hosting, hop on our train by ordering a Boxcar today for $99/month!

For more information, visit or Planet Argon.

Also, be sure to follow Boxcar on twitter.

Interviewed by Hanselminutes

Posted by Fri, 11 Apr 2008 12:31:00 GMT

Earlier this week, Scott Hanselman from Hanselminutes came down to the Planet Argon studio to interview Andy, Gary, and myself about adoption of Git.


The podcast interview is available online now.

Thanks for stopping by Scott!

update: I’d recommend that you also check out another episode of Hanselminutes when he sat down to speak with David Heinemeier Hansson and Martin Fowler.

Portland is calling... (you)

Posted by Fri, 11 Apr 2008 05:30:00 GMT

We’re not looking for rock stars or ninjas at Planet Argon. ;-)

We’re looking for individuals that share our core values.

  • COLLABORATION – We believe that an open dialogue between all members of a group helps to produce more reasoned and intelligent decisions.
  • ENTHUSIASM – We recognize the unique power of people who are passionate about their craft. We believe that fun is an essential ingredient in a collaborative and vibrant company culture. We think happy people make better software.
  • COMMUNITY – We are part of many communities. Our neighborhoods, our cities, our workplace, and our professional communities. We give back to our communities by implementing socially responsible business practices and sharing our knowledge and tools with our peers.
  • VERSATILITY – We believe that it is important for our team to be open and flexible, as well as the work that we do. This allows us to adapt to change and encourage innovation.
  • EXECUTION – We value action and when people make things happen. It is important that we follow through on our commitments, plans, and ideas.

..maybe you’re a .NET/Java/PHP/Python developer (who secretly plays with Ruby on Rails at night/weekends). We’re looking for an intermediate-level Rails developer to join our team. Ideal candidates would be in the Portland, Oregon area or willing to relocate.


If you’re interested, take a moment and introduce yourself.

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