Retroactively Setting Up a Gem/Engine to Use Rspec

Some of us NIRDs built a gem recently, ng_will_paginate, to allow easy use of the fabulous will-paginate gem with an Angular-fronted Rails application. This was the first time we built a gem that uses assets, and it was an excellent learning opportunity. As mentioned in Patrick’s post, we traveled a winding path while building this gem. Namely, we extracted the code for it from another project, which meant that we were pulling in fully formed code, and not practicing TDD (please don’t judge us). As a result, we built the gem without the proper testing options and we needed to add them retroactively. This was a complicated thing to research and figure out, but implementation ended up not being too difficult.

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Using Foreman and Subcontractor to Simplify Your Life

When working on a complex application, you may need more than one application or service running at one time. This can be a pain to manage without great tools like the Foreman and Subcontractor gems, because you would have to have all of those apps and services open in different tab in order for your one complex app to function properly.

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The First Gem Is the Sweetest

As my colleagues have mentioned in previous posts, we NIRDs have begun an initiative to contribute more to the open source community. As a junior developer who had never contributed to the open source community, this put me on unfamiliar ground. For many, that first step into the unknown is daunting – for me it was terrifying. I mean, I’m mostly self-taught, and as a result, I have a paralyzing fear of everyone discovering that I am a complete fraud. ::Deep breath:: Until now, irrational self-preservation against an imaginary threat has won out over the desire to give back to the community that helped me get to where I am today; but that’s all changed (j/k I’m still scared, but I’m trying to be braver about failing upwards).

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OSNird: A Journey Into Open Source Gem-Making

Part 1: Introduction to GracePeriod & README-Driven-Development

OSNird (for Open Source NIRD) is a new program here where NIRDs can spend work time contributing to open source projects. One team (Mike Pence, Adam Bell and myself) is writing a gem to address the imbalance that occurs when we place urgent concerns over important concerns and end up with technical debt. We are excited to take you with us on our learning journey in order to inspire more people to contribute to open source.

The Vision:

We all have those moments. Our feature must be shipped today so we cut corners. It’s hard to keep track of those pieces, especially when our manager now considers our feature done and has moved on to bigger and better features for us to implement. To extend and mix the metaphor: all those cut corners are essentially swept under the rug. You won’t notice a couple under the rug, but eventually the rug becomes difficult to walk over without pain. Often by the time we are tripping over the technical debt, we have forgotten the story of that corner and how we were planning on fixing it. This is very inefficient. GracePeriod is designed to deal with these concerns. It will help developers hold their managers and themselves accountable to keep track of those corners and stay on top of technical debt. Through GracePeriod, we will be able to record contextual information about our short cuts and our plans for correcting them so we will have a quick refresher available when the debt comes due.

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Where in the World Are the NIRDS?

The NIRDS have been busy this year sharing our love of Ruby, Rails and programming. One of the ways we do this is by sponsoring and speaking at conferences through-out the world. If you haven’t been to a Ruby conference – I highly recommend attending one. Different conferences have their own personalities – so try out a couple ’til you find one you like.

Conferences are a great way to meet other Rubyists from around the world – to exchange ideas and learn about what cool projects people are working on. Of course you can do a lot of this online, but it’s great to meet face-to-face sometimes. When we aren’t attending conferences – you might find a NIRD at Seattle.rb or one of the other coding meet ups around Seattle.

Here’s a round-up of some of the places we’ve been so far this year:

Ruby on Ales

This conference is every spring in Bend, Oregon. Bend is known for the great outdoors and beer and isn’t too far a trip from Seattle. NIRD was one of the sponsors this year (we gave out the super cool NIRD pint glasses!) And Kerri gave a talk on “Harry Potter and the Legacy Code Base”.

Here’s a the talk video and the slides from the conference.

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Ruby on Rails Bootcamp in Seattle

NIRD is super excited to announce the public launch of our Ruby on Rails Bootcamp classes in Seattle, WA! We’ve been teaching corporate clients around the world for years, but this is our first chance to share the awesomeness that is Ruby on Rails with our Seattle community.

We’re launching our first class at the end of February with a 5 Day Ruby on Rails Bootcamp designed for students with some programming experience who are interested in learning Ruby on Rails or leveling up their web development skills. Registration is already open, and you can find out more at

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‘Whose Wife Are You?’

In August of 2011, Renée Hendrickson (nee DeVoursney) presented her talk, ‘Whose Wife are You?’ at Madison Ruby. You can watch it here.


The Advantages of a Custom CSS Framework

Your organization is building a premier app. You are confident in your target audience and the excellence of your design, and yet you know that in a rapidly evolving technology environment change is inevitable. NIRD has extensive experience working with a variety of design styles and front-end frameworks. Regardless of the style or framework you choose, the best practice for developing maintainable front-end code is to modularize your front-end elements. Breaking your front-end code into discrete chunks makes it easier to adapt to new technologies, change designs, and add new functionality over the life of the application.

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Meet the Newest NIRD

Hi – I’m Bethany Rentz and I just started working at NIRD on Monday. I’m very excited to join the team – and to start working on client projects! Coming from a large software company – I’m not sure what to expect working at a small office – but so far everyone is a lot of fun and very enthusiastic. BTW – we are having an office warming party next week – which I’m sure is also a welcome party for me – so everyone can check out the new digs: HQ Warming.

There is a lot of cool stuff going on here – I got an overview of current projects and what I could work on. There are a couple of projects I will be working on – and will start getting up to speed on all the NIRD tools.

In the afternoon – we went out for Frozen Custard – a NIRD tradition – and I learned about the company values – most importantly our focus on the customer and our strong collaboration culture! Then it was time for me to update the NIRD website with my bio – I made the changes and deployed the code to production.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be focused on getting up to speed on existing projects and starting to do some development. Hopefully in a future blog post I’ll share something more technical.


‘You Can’t Miss What You Can’t Measure’

In August, Kerri Miller presented her talk, “You Can’t Miss What You Can’t Measure” at Steel City Ruby. You can watch the video here.