Nice to meet you, Ruby

May 5, 2007 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

My introduction to Ruby started last year. I had read about Ruby on Rails and thought it sounded like a really interesting language. About August a relatively minor hurricane had just blown through Florida. Our Network Operations department monitors our store network links. Another department (the help desk) takes calls from the stores when they have issues, and are generally in charge of tracking what is going on with the stores. Since both groups had different sources of information about what was happening at the locations, they were sending excel spreadsheets back and forth to update each other on the status of the stores. The Help Desk would then send out an email with the spreadsheet attached to the management team two to three times a day. This would work, if there were only a few stores affected, but when 20-30 stores or more are having to close because of a storm, it breaks down. More often than not, the updates the Network Operations department put in their copy of the spreadsheet didn’t make it into the one sent to management, which made the NetOps team look bad.

When I heard about this, it sounded like the perfect use for a database driven web application. Members of both teams could update the same database at the same time and management could take a look at it whenever they wanted to get an up-to-date consolidated view of exactly what both teams know about the stores.

I had looked at Ruby on Rails before and was kind of excited about it. Unfortunately, I’m not the kind of person that can write an app just to learn a language. I really need to have a real end product that I need to get motivated on something like this. I essentially volunteered to write it to force myself to learn Ruby on Rails. My manager was sold on the idea and gave me permission to do it, as long as I could have it completed very quickly. Thus, StormTrack was born.

About a week later, I was done, even after a few more features were added (like exporting to csv, adding a news table, and adding a user system so there would be accountability). Yes, feature creep even happens to very small apps! Of course, this was almost a year ago, and it has not been used since, because there haven’t been any major storms. If we are very lucky, we won’t use StormTrack again this hurricane season.

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Entry filed under: Ruby.

Blogging about programming, networking, and computers in general New NAS in my future

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