More Blog Posts About More Things Need To Need To Be Made

BACKGROUND

A webplace space originally launched in February 2009, More Things Need To is a simple site. Much like Texts From Last Night or Bash.org, it’s a place where anyone can submit short humorous blurbs (the former being supposed funny texts, the latter being supposed funny chat logs). MTNT’s particular slant is that the blurb needs to be in the form “More X need(s) to Y”, which is the snowclone-like template of a joke that a friend and I have been using for many years. Eventually the idea to make our shared comedy a website so that we could keep track of them, and furthermore allow others to read them and contribute their own, came to fruition.

My friend, who is more acquainted with Ruby on Rails, decided to make the site with it as its server side back-end. The front-end design has been a more cooperative effort. A mobile version specifically targeting iPhones and iPods has been largely my effort. As he creates features or edits things, I sort of translate it to the small screen. Together MTNT has become a pretty solid little web app that we’ve enjoyed tinkering with for almost a year now.

MOBILE MTNT

Working on the mobile version has been fun as I find it enjoyable to take a more complicated layout and try to “minify” it for the restricted viewport of a phone. While I usually start a fresh desktop project off with a simple design, making it increasingly more complex as features are created, constructing a mobile version of a site goes in the other direction. Start with a complex site and begin increasingly stripping things until the app is down to its core components. Streamlined and svelte, much like the phone it’s probably being viewed on nowadays.

I’d like to take the idea a step further and make a free iPhone app out of MTNT, as well. There isn’t a heck of a lot of advantage to “appifying” the site, but that actually is an advantage in accomplishing said task: it shouldn’t be too much translation, and it will be a good first iPhone app exercise. The first step in making it work is to create a public API that it can call, but that’s currently on the backburner.

RECENT MTNT CHANGES

Some of the more recent additions to the site are a view of all users with their respective number of entries/votes/comments they’ve made, as well as an entry search function. They’ve been on the desktop version of the site for about a month, but the mobile version was just amended to use them last night. The buttons used when paging through entries were also updated to look more mobile-like and be more consistent with the form buttons already existing.

GETTING BETTER ACQUAINTED WITH RUBY

The Ruby back end of MTNT is still a bit of a mystery to me as I’ve mainly used ASP.NET and PHP. As I’ve updated my part of the site bits of Ruby here and there have surely entered my brain, but it has yet to coalesce into clear understanding. The syntax and flow of creating a website in Ruby still hasn’t clicked with me, but I’m taking steps to overcome this:

  1. Immediately: Completing the Ruby Koans
  2. Imminently: Redoing nebyooweb.com in Rails 3
  3. Imminently: Attending a Ruby user conference/meetup
  4. Eventually: Creating a Ruby gem (maybe)

Learning a whole new language, as well as a framework, is difficult. However, I’ve heard from multiple people how Ruby just “feels right” and once you’ve gotten over the learning curve using it is a pleasure. I hope this comes to pass.

2 thoughts on “More Blog Posts About More Things Need To Need To Be Made

  1. I’m curious your take on using two different platforms. On one hand you have .NET being the platform you work with on a daily basis for work, yet you drive towards Ruby as a side project. Is the Ruby work something you’d like to parlay into a full time gig, or just a hobby?

    I ask because I faced the same situation when working on side projects at home between my mac and PC.

    • It’s much too early to know whether Ruby is something I’d want to use full-time as I’ve barely dabbled in making anything with it. Jimmy is quickly becoming a pro at it, and it’s influencing me to use it more.

      As far as ASP.NET, I don’t have any particular problem with it, but needing an IIS server to use it is limiting for easy non-work development. My work doesn’t require a lot of in-depth knowledge of how it works (yet), so I’m getting by all right. Using C# as the server-side language makes me feel like more of a well-rounded programmer (in that it supports non-web dev, too), but it’s more challenging in its scope. Visual Studio 2008, which I currently use, still tends to do a lot of code bloat when using built-in widgets, which is something that irks my from-scratch tendencies, even though in a higher-pressure environment is often necessary. It’s possible VS 2010/MVC is better about this, but I haven’t used it.

      I still use CakePHP for my main sites (nebyoolae.com and nebyooweb.com), so when I’m doing my own development I’m mainly digging around in PHP. Both it and Ruby on an Apache stack is easier to assemble on my Mac at home. Regardless of back-end, I spend the majority of my time on the front-end, so HTML/CSS/JS cares little for what platform I’m on.

      I definitely feel stretched a bit thin maintaining three different back-end technologies, and there’s no clear cut preference except for the free/open-source nicety of both PHP and Ruby. For now, I will continue to try to be knowledgeable in all until I have more experience with Ruby. Maybe then I’ll have a clearer picture of what avenue I want to pursue further.

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