Old Software Never Really Dies

I just got a support request from someone today for a web application that I helped to write in college. It was my first Rails project and it was made as a senior class project. We had a client who was a professor from another department. We had to write our own version of backgrounDRb, used an early version of Rails, and wrote Flash as the front-end to an annotating engine for documents.

It was a great success for us using Rails and Ruby for the first time. We easily exceeded all expectations set in the beginning of the 10 week class. We had demo screencasts, a professional looking site, a great code/test ratio (first time ever for me), and a very happy customer. Some departments in our school were seriously considering using it for their document collaboration needs, and apparently, the software found its way around the world entirely by word of mouth.

I haven’t touched the code in several years and the machine that housed the subversion repo is long gone. It got me thinking about how software never really dies. I had no idea these people were using it to this day, but it still lives out there. I don’t even have the original site up anymore, so there’s no place to download the code.

It’s sort of cool and strange knowing that something that I wrote as a class project is being used by people to actually get work done. Maybe I’ll pick it back up and polish off the old code and breathe some new life into it someday. It’s just weird to think of a Flash/Rails app I wrote a few years ago as “old.” There’s going to be more of that in the future and it’s a refreshing reminder that everything old is new again and software never truly dies.


I’ve been doing a side project lately that needed an embedable CMS for a client. The requirements were pretty simple: A few updateable areas that I could build into the app and possible dynamic content like pulling in the latest posts in the user forums. I didn’t feel like building it myself, so I did a few minutes of searching and came across Comatose.

It works perfectly for my client’s needs. I can use liquid or erb for text processing, so that fits in quite nicely with the multitude of other plugins I’m using. They also added the nice touch of being able to completely customize the admin interface, so it was dead simple to skin the interface to match what I already was doing for them and just add a quick route so it looks like part of the app. I owe the devs a beer.

Getting Weird Rails Errors?

Having trouble with rails on OS X? Are you getting something like this message?

`require': No such file to load -- rubygems (LoadError)

Then the ruby binary may have been replaced on your machine by Apple in an update recently. The fix is just to remove Apple’s version in /usr/bin or to change your bash profile to load your version of ruby first.

Rails 1.1 and Typo PSA

If you read this and you are running Typo, I hope it helps you. I am one of the Typo Gardeners at TypoGarden. Rails 1.1 just came out and it breaks some backwards compatibility and at this time, Typo breaks when it is run with it. There is an experimental branch of Typo that hopes to fix these issues, but for now, it would be wise either not to upgrade to Rails 1.1 unless you need it, or to run

rake freeze_edge REVISION=3303

in your Typo directory so that you freeze which version of Rails (1.0) you are running until something can be done. This is particularly relevant for people on shared hosts like TextDrive or Dreamhost. This has been a PSA. We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

Typo/Rails problem with cached directories

There was a problem on my site for a while where certain categories on my Typo install were just redirecting to an old school listing of files like when there is no index page in a folder. It bugged me for a while, until I thought about how Rails does its routing of URLs. More after the jump.

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Can Rails Migrations Become Easier?

I’ve been mulling an idea around in my head for the past week. I can’t seem to sleep without thinking about it (which usually means I need to build something). Rails migrations are pretty easy to get your head around. They add all of the benefits of being able to keep database changes under version control and let you work with a team while doing it, among other things. Can we make creating these migrations even easier? How about a web app to create, modify, and manage migrations? I think that’s what I need to create, if only for my sanity, but hopefully it will be useful for someone else too.