New site: made with RailsBricks in 30 minutes
2014, November 5

I usually rebuild my personal site from scratch each January. This year, I'm a bit early as I wanted to build something really quickly with RailsBricks 3, my open-source Rails app creator that I released last week. This is also to give you an idea of how fast you can build something using RailsBricks. Let's see what the site does.

Functionalities

It's a standard personal site/blog like you find a lot on the web. It has:

  • a front page
  • a blog
  • a contact form
  • a search form
  • a twitter feed
  • a custom responsive UI based on Bootstrap 3
  • a subscription form to my newsletter
  • Google Analytics
  • an admin zone where I can write new posts using the Markdown syntax
  • the code is safely stored in a Git repository at Bitbucket

It runs on Heroku with a PostgreSQL database, using the Unicorn web server.

This is how the articles editing section looks like in the admin zone:

image

So, how long did it take to make this website? Let's have some numbers...

Made quickly

I started from scratch, just an empty directory and timed myself for each section. Here's the breakdown:

  • Generating the base app with RailsBricks (rbricks -n): 1 minute
  • Ruby coding (some changes in the default controllers, mostly): 13 minutes
  • HTML/CSS coding (changed colors, added few CSS rules like the small tutorial tag): 16 minutes
  • Publishing on Heroku (set the env variables, the domain name, ...): 2 mins

That's right, the whole thing was made in 32 minutes! That's less than a lunch break at work. Of course, to these numbers, you can add non coding tasks such as planning or checking the spelling. But yes, the technical part took 32 minutes and I am not a fast nor a good coder.

Your turn, now

If you want to try to do the same, have a look at the RailsBricks intro video and then, build something!

Your feedback is welcome: contact me or send me a tweet.

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RailsBricks 3 released!
2014, October 30

It took a little bit more time than expected but RailsBricks 3 is finally available! Get it through gem install railsbricks, check out the video, have a quick read through the get started or discover the upcoming web development guide with Ruby, Rails & RailsBricks.

Changes

RailsBricks 3 packs some awesome new features:

  • optional generation of all the resources necessary for a blog, news articles or product updates using the Markdown syntax
  • optional Unicorn configuration for deployment in production
  • optional generation of a Contact form
  • several UI themes to choose from (based on Bootstrap 3)
  • choose between SQLite or PostgreSQL as the development database
  • ...and more!

As RailsBricks is moving forward, some features were removed:

  • no test framework included: everybody approaches testing differently so it is up to you to choose and implement the framework you prefer
  • no more Reset CSS UI option: RailsBricks uses Bootstrap 3 only

Web development guide

RailsBricks is now at version 3 and since its first version, I received tons of feedback and loads of questions. This is why I also intend to create a web development guide. Follow @railsbricks on Twitter to know when it gets released.

The future

RailsBricks 3 is freshly out of the oven but I already started on working on a new feature for version 3.1: the capability to add a forum to your app. I will also continue to maintain RailsBricks and update it as new versions of Ruby or Rails get released.

Contact and feedback

If you have comments, suggestions, feedback or feature requests, don't hesitate to drop me a line using the contact form (built with RailsBricks!) or on Twitter @railsbricks.

Now, go build something awesome!

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My Sweet Setup: Part I - Hardware
2014, October 23

From time to time, I get asked what kind of computer do I use or what is my favorite text editor. Last night, someone asked me to describe my setup so instead of answering by email, I thought about describing it here. As I spend nearly all my waking hours on a computer in my home office, I took some time to build the environment that suits me best. Here is Part 1 - Hardware. I'll give you a list of the software I use in a future post.

The Room

The Room

I like working in the dark. It allows me to focus on my screen. I still need a lightsource other than my screens so I use a Philips LivingColors LED lamp set on a light blue color in the corner of the room.

Mac Hardware

Desktop

Mac Mini

My main computer is a Mac Mini. This is the 2012 version (the one just before the newer 2014 Mini announced this October), customized with an Intel i7 processor, 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB Fusion Drive. In terms of raw performances, it can't compete with a high-end iMac or a Mac Pro but as a machine for coding, it does everything I need and even some more without any slowdowns. I never turn it off, it's always on, sometimes for several months without even a reboot.

I use it with a 27" Apple Thunderbolt Display as the main monitor and a 24" Samsung S24A350H on its left side.

The keyboard is the standard Apple wired aluminum keyboard. I really like it because it's silent. I have a MacBook Pro connected to an external display on which I use the wireless Apple keyboard but I don't like it as much as the wired one with its numeric keypad.

The mouse is a Logitech Wireless Performance MX. I reassigned the extra buttons to keyboard shortcuts such as CMD+W to close the current window.

On the left side of the keyboard, there's an Apple Magic Trackpad. I assigned plenty of gestures to it using BetterTouchTool such as close, mission control, copy-cut-paste, etc. I'll detail them in Part II - Software.

Laptop

MacBook Air

The Apple laptop is a 2013 13" MacBook Air with the Intel i7, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD. On battery, I can use it between 12 and 14 hours before I need to charge it again. This is the best piece of hardware I've ever owned.

LandingZone

When home, it is connected to an Apple wired keyboard, Magic Mouse and external display using a LandingZone 2.0 PRO docking station.

Windows Hardware

I mostly work on Mac but sometimes, depending on the customer I'm working for, I need to have some Windows machines as well.

Desktop

Old gen HP Pavilion Elite HPE

My Windows desktop machine is an old HP Pavilion Elite HPE which I upgraded over time. It also serves as a gaming rig with some good specs: 1 TB HD, 16 GB RAM, Intel i7, two EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti graphic cards. It runs Windows 8.1 and Linux Mint 17 on a separate partition. Another 24" Samsung S24A350H is plugged into it.

Laptop

HP Envy dv6

This is a HP Envy dv6: Intel i7 2.4GHz, 750 GB HD, 8 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M, 15.6" LED-backlit display at a sorry 1366x768. It currently runs Windows 8.1.

Keyboard and Mouse

Logitech K740

The Logitech Illuminated K740 is by far the best keyboard I've used on Windows (and I've tried many!). It's super thin, has backlit keys with three levels of illumination and is silent. This keyboard has its place in my personal hardware hall of fame.

Logitech MediaPlay

The Logitech MediaPlay Cordless Mouse is another piece of hardware I have since forever (2003, I believe). I love it for its many buttons, its backlight and the general shape that is so very comfortable to the hand. Unfortunately, Logitech doesn't make them anymore. It still works perfectly with OS X, Windows and Linux.

Linux Hardware

Acer Aspire One

I run Linux Mint 17 on an Acer Aspire One 756 laptop. The specs are not impressive at all: Intel Celeron 1.1 GHz, 2 GB RAM, 320 GB HD, 11.6" screen. Its lightweight makes up for the less than stellar performances when I need to carry around a Linux laptop.

As a Linux desktop, I use the previously mentioned HP Pavilion Elite HPE. It dual boots Windows 8.1 and Linux Mint 17.

Phone

iPhone 6. Nothing to add.

Misc

Transcend

I use a lot of external hard drives. So far, my favorite is a Transcend Storejet 2TB USB 3.0. It has rubber around it. I use these for cloning my machines or storing large media files.

Thule Bag

Last but not least, each time I leave the house, it's with this Thule 13 Stravan bag to carry the MacBook Air and the iPad around.

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