Monday, January 01, 2007

Win Books By Blogging

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Update: ¿Hablas español? Mira aqui.

Update: It's time to get going on the February contest. — this one is now closed.

Update: It's time to get going on the March contest.

I can't tell you how excited I am to have Jarkko Laine as our guest judge this month, and even better, he's come up with the theme for this month's contest: "How has Ruby on Rails made you a better programmer". (You can read more about Jarkko in the interview I did with him.) Here's his challenge:

For me, the spell of Rails comes roughly in three parts:

  1. Productivity boost
  2. Having more fun
  3. Doing the right things

#1 has been the reason numero uno almost everywhere Rails has been mentioned. I guess it's easier to sell productivity to managers than having fun ("oh, that's so unprofessional!") or doing the right things without rigid explicit processes. However, I see the increased productivity mostly as an inevitable consequence of the two latter points.

Much of my liking Ruby and Rails development more than other environments comes from the feeling of the language and tools being a natural extension of my brain. Why shouldn't I be able to write something like "2.weeks.ago"? It's easy to dismiss things like that as just syntactic sugar without real meaning, but you know, things add up, and overall happiness in work is built of small details.

Point number three could be described as the dullest and most minor benefit Rails brings to table. However, in many ways it's the grounding factor of both the happy Rails development and the improved productivity.

The things I include in doing the right things are stuff like making testing as easy as not to, conforming to the Rest principles and naming conventions, the MVC-type separation of concerns, and keeping yourself DRY (don't repeat yourself). I sleep my nights much better when I know that my application has extensive test coverage and that anyone knowledgeable with Rails can take it up in a few hours in case we need more labour force because the structure of the application is so obvious.

Now, none of these things are specific to or even popularized by Rails. However, many web developers have come to learn these lessons through Rails and I don't know any other framework that would make them as integrated part of the development process as Rails does. As the king of the Rails kingdom, David Heinemeier Hansson, has said, Rails tries to be the angel on the developer's shoulder ("Write your tests, it's as easy as not to!") as opposed to the PHP devil ("SQL in the views, quick'n'dirty, man!").

However, my imagination is very limited and I'd like to hear more about what healthy habits Rails has made people learn and what bad habits to abandon. That's why the topic of our January blogging contest is "Rails Revelations: How Rails made me a better programmer". Heck, if Rails made you quit smoking, tell us about it.

So, post links to your entries here, and Jason, Jarkko, and I will look them over the first week in February, pick a winner, and award the prize. Happy blogging!

21 comments:

Michael B. said...

How has Ruby and Rails made me a better programmer: Apress/On Ruby Blogging Contest

Jeremy McAnally said...

Ah, finally got around to typing this out:
http://mrneighborly.com/articles/2007/01/10/clandestine-portrait-of-a-developer-the-guy-you-hate

Good idea for a contest, by the way. Four gold medals for you.

Josh said...

Well put, I'll give it a stab.
My 2 Cents

Christian Neukirchen said...

http://chneukirchen.org/blog/archive/2007/01/how-rails-made-me-a-better-programmer.html

Chris Hartjes said...

I like Jeremy's posting, because it's so true...I hated that type of developer when I've had to clean up their messes!

http://www.littlehart.net/atthekeyboard/2007/01/10/how-has-ruby-on-rails-made-me-a-better-programmer/

Amy said...

Excellent!

http://slash7.com/articles/2007/1/11/how-rails-helped-me-level-up

Anonymous said...

Sweet initiative, Pat. Here's my contribution: That Rails Thing

Sutto said...

Awesome Idea :)
My Entry: http://ninjahideout.com/blog/2007/01/12/how-ruby-and-rails-helped-me-become-a-better-programmer/

Chetan Mittal said...

A han !! My 5 cents ...


How has Rails made me a better and happy programmer

Andrew Montgomery said...

My entry on how Rails let me embrace my lazy side :)

Stuart Sierra said...

My contribution: How Ruby on Rails is Making Me a Better Programmer. Cool idea, this contest.

Shawn said...

Brilliant idea. I've actually been thinking about doing a post like this after my first Rails project is done. Now it's just out a few weeks earlier. Here it is:

How has Rails Made Me a Better Programmer.

Eckie said...

Awesome blog idea! Here is my contribution:

Jedi Rubyness

Anonymous said...

Rails only insofar made me a better programmer as it introduced me to Ruby, which in turn introduced me to LISP which made me a better programmer. :-)

draconid said...

My horribly short and quickly put together attempt: http://www.typo.draigwen.com/articles/2007/01/28/am-i-really-any-better

Casper Fabricius said...

Great idea! Count me in:

http://casperfabricius.com/blog/2007/01/28/how-ruby-on-rails-has-made-me-a-better-programmer/

lkoskela said...

I joined the fun, too.

Dan Manges said...

Thank You Rails:
http://www.dcmanges.com/blog/18

Sean said...

Here's my entry (just under the wire).

Aníbal Rojas said...

Here it is my post, just on time ;-)
http://www.lacaraoscura.com/2007/01/31/how-ruby-and-rails-helped-me-become-a-better-programmer/

Brandon Keepers said...

Pat,

I had every intention of posting this before the end of January, but the month snuck out the back door.

http://opensoul.org/2007/2/3/how-rails-has-made-me-a-better-programmer

Thanks,
Brandon