Blast from the past

In an attempt to ensure that I keep this blogging lark up, I thought I would resurrect an old post I made a couple of years ago to a now defunct blog to serve as a starting point and thus I’ll revisit where I am now in a future post.

A brief history of computing (well, according to me)

I’ve had an interest in computers ever since I wrote my first Basic program, when I was eleven, on our Tandy 1000 and began poking around it’s memory with Norton Utilities trying to crack the high score tables of some of the games we had. (I even managed to succeed with a couple!)

Fast forwarding several years of Amiga programming I ended up building my own PC which has been upgraded many times to the current incarnation that’s sitting under my desk here. It stopped being upgraded when I discovered Apple Macs and (maybe more importantly) Mac OS X. And it’s through Macs that I came to discover Ruby on Rails. In my search for the ultimate text editor, which I found in TextMate, I saw a video of TextMate being used with this web framework thingy. What piqued my interest was not only the fact that it seemed so quick to put together a basic application but the guy who was demonstrating it was clearly so passionate about it.

The gem in all of this

I started looking into it and the philosophies behind it, and I think that a combination of them and where my head is at now is the reason that it all seems to gel together nicely. The key piece of the jigsaw, that seems to be often overlooked in all the hype, is Ruby. It really is a joy to use and like many Ruby fans have said it “just fits your brain”.

The majority of my past programming experience has been in procedural programming and although many of the languages I have used have some elements of Object Oriented programming I’ve never really been able to fully wrap my head around the principles of Object Orientation until now. At university we used Smalltalk but I never got it, it just didn’t feel right and it didn’t excite me. Somehow, and I really can’t explain how, Ruby just feels right. I can write code the way my brain thinks and though I don’t know Ruby very well yet I write what I think it ought to be and very often it turns out it is and the code works.

But the proof is in the pudding; I’m still learning the ropes but even with that in mind I have built a proof of concept app for an internal company project from start to finish in 5 hours with Ruby on Rails; that’s from inception to a working prototype oh, and I had to find out how to do some stuff in Rails too, so I reckon that time can be cut down somewhat too.

So where does that leave us? Well it convinced me that it is viable for us to use it to build web apps in our spare time in a reasonable length of time - and have fun doing it! By letting us be more productive it should also allow us to spend more time on the little things that matter, the things that make a good app into a great app.

Having said that, I’d certainly like to hear your stories of how you got into Ruby and/or Rails, and also if you didn’t.

Got any questions or comments? Drop me a message on Twitter (@elaptics).