Review: Ruby on Rails 2.2 EnvyCast

So it started with a tweet, and ended up here. The first of a two part review of the Ruby on Rails 2.2 EnvyCast. But first some background…

RailsEnvy

Gregg Pollack and Jason Seifer are the comics of the Ruby and Rails worlds, and I have been a religious follower of the Rails Envy show since somewhere in the 20’s, but have listened to every show and almost rolled my car when I featured on episode 34 for my then work on BIND DLZ on Rails (now living on as PowerDNS on Rails).

Me

I’ll spare you the soppies. I’m a self proclaimed Ruby evangelist trying my best to sneak Ruby into the South African system. Proudly enough I’ve made some conversions and people seem to find me on my cell looking for an opportunity to have beers and talk Ruby. I’m working with some other key Ruby figures here to launch something Rubyists in South Africa needs (but will enlighten everyone when the time is right).

The path to 2.X

I’m still wrapping my head around most of whats new in Rails 2.0 and Rails 2.1, with most of our apps spread between those two. Why get excited about 2.2 then? Well, for me personally it’s the connection pooling (I write a lot dark background Ruby code living inside eventloops and thread pools, speaking AMQP or XMPP and others). Living in a country with 11 official anguages makes I18N a great proposition as well, but thats another story all together.

Interlude

Needless to say I was excited to download my copy of the Rails 2.2 EnvyCast last week, then reality held me back until last night (and again tonight). I was looking forward to a grand show of insightful insanity, packed with great material and new stuff to learn.

Pressing Play

Coffee in hand I opened the archive and played the show…

Being my first EnvyCast I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed the format that Gregg and Jason uses to get their message across. Being able to see your presenters is very powerful and helps to keep your attention. It is a nice break from the Peepcode format (not that Peepcode sucks). I think its a game changer for commercial & educational screencasts.

For 44 minutes I was glued to the screen, following every example and making sense of the changes. I was stumped to see how many new things have been present in Rails, and how much easier things are becoming. I felt the same kinda excitement I did when I first started watching Rails screencasts and comparing it to my PHP code at the time. Whats better is that it’s Ruby compared to Ruby.

Overall

The show covers ActiveRecord, ActiveSupport, ActionPack, ActionController, Railties, I18N & Performance topics. Gregg and Jason have managed to use real world examples when discussing each topic, which makes almost everything 100% relevant.

Every developer who has walked a path with Rails knows its not the silver bullet that solves all problems, and most often allows you to develop so quickly that you reach the fringes of the framework very quickly, unlike PHP where it might takes years to do so. Gregg and Jason exploit these emotions we’ve all shared and highlight how Rails 2.2 addresses the issues for us with some excellent before and after style code snippets.

I was very impressed overall with the content and presentation. Jason’s Rails scaling joke made its way in, although he admitted the end might be near (I don’t believe it). I think its as good for experienced Rails developers as for people just starting out and getting their hands dirty. Don’t know how someone with no Rails history would manage though.

The dose of comedy is also just perfect, it never alienates you from the topic at hand and serves as either a fantastic segway or as cement. I loved every minute of it.

Go get it now!

At $16 the value is unbeatable, the Rails 2.2 Packaged deal (video and PDF) can’t be beaten. I’m still working my way through the PDF, but so far it is just as good as the video. Honestly, if I had to spend the time to research all the changes it would could cost several hunder dollars in company & personal time. $16 is cheap.

Just in case you missed it, here are the links again:

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