Set up Rails on my PowerBook, just 'cause I can

Yesterday I read about Locomotive on Rafe's blog. I had never done Rails (or Ruby) before, but many friends have been trying to turn me on to it. I decided to try Locomotive because I wanted to see how a popular web platform tackled a self-contained web development environment on Mac OS X, having done it myself for Plone.

Locomotive is a nice package. Even simpler than the Plone installer, you can drag-and-drop the environment anywhere on your hard drive instead of being forced to use the installer package to put the environment in /Applications (this is a Python/extensions limitation, not inherent in the packaging of the Plone installer). There's also a nice, simple GUI Rails instance creator and controller. I've wanted to do one of those for Zope/Plone for a while but haven't had the motivation.

Mere hours later, the Apple Developer connection released an article about setting up the Rails stack, from source, on Mac OS X.

Apple Developer Connection: Using Ruby on Rails for Web Development on Mac OS X

I went through the process, and was very happy with the result. Everything worked the first time, and I was able to follow the first few steps of the tutorial to build a tiny web application.

That said, I have zero interest in doing Rails development (nay, web development) right now or any time soon, I've got bigger fish to fry so this is where I'll sit with Rails quite a while.

In advance, I'll tell you the thing I like least about Rails development. In a word, "generate". I don't care how human-readable-and-writable generated code is, it's almost always a bad idea. There are so many files generated in a new Rails instance that look like they shouldn't exist or should only contain one like of code by default. Add a rule engine to Rails and use rules to customize pages instead of explicitly changing templates you've got something that excites me.

Written on March 1, 2006