Crashing through some web stack layers

Last week was a serious blur that ended with a working website. I’m still blinking because my eyes feel dry from the wind chill. Fwoooooooosh.

Here are the tools we crammed into our coding repertoire in just five freakin days, along with some jumbled streams of consciousness.

1. Gemsets and Bundler

Pretend like your project is a saltwater fish. Using Gemsets and Bundler is like getting the salinity, temperature, and PH levels just right in the fish tank. Or something. Not sure if that’s a great analogy.

Developers have to pay attention to the ultra fine-print when it comes to their project environments. Say your code requires some very specific gem versions – sudden updates might throw your entire project out of whack. Gemsets allows you to manage gem versions on your computer. And Bundler packages up that specific environment up so that other folks can run it when they access your project.

2. Sinatra (aka Vic Fontaine)

Phew! This Domain Specific Language (DSL) does some *serious *heavy lifting! Wanna work with several coding languages at once and build up and tear down entire webpages within minutes? We spent last week using the erb template language (one of 22 possible options). After learning how to use layouts.erb, I felt SO SO silly for wasting my life copy / pasting HTML code across multiple pages in the past. (I have a slight amateur history of building websites, my first one being a pre-Geocities Pokemon fan page when I was ten years old.) Sinatra is the shiznit.

3. Thin

Thin is a Ruby web server gem we used to look at our webpages. I’m pretty sure “rackup” has won out over “facebook.com” in my muscle memory, so that’s fantastic.

4. Heroku

The cloud platform where we published our completed website projects. Here’s what I’ve got so far – most of the content has been pulled directly from my current WordPress blog. Eventually, I’d like to detach completely from WordPress and own the complete process, from development through content. Well, that’s the dream anyway.

We spent less than two days going over HTML and CSS before jumping into our Sinatra Site project. This was a seriously jolting wakeup call for me for two reasons:

  • Even though I had some working HTML and CSS knowledge prior to Ada, I had to essentially *unlearn *obsolete tags, bad habits, and unnecessary workarounds.
  • If something feels familiar in the Ada curriculum, that feeling will probably be very. very. very short-lived. Once we jumped into Sinatra and started blending Ruby and HTML, I was back in the wild unknown, fumbling around in the dark with a teensy flashlight. Hooray for coding adventures.