Ruby Posts

The Toptal Engineering Blog is a hub for in-depth development tutorials and new technology announcements created by professional software engineers in the Toptal network.
Amin Shah Gilani
Rails Service Objects: A Comprehensive Guide

Rails ships with everything you need to prototype your application quickly, but when your codebase starts growing, you’ll run into scenarios where the conventional Fat Model, Skinny Controller mantra breaks. When your business logic can’t fit in either a model or a controller, that’s when service objects come in and let us separate every business action into its own Ruby object.

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Orban Botond
Field-level Rails Cache Invalidation: A DSL Solution

Fragment caching in Rails provides an easy yet a powerful way of improving your application’s performance. However, some real-world scenarios do not work quite well with how the Rails cache behaves by default.

In this article, Toptal Ruby on Rails Developer Orban Botond shows how you can implement a small DSL to optimize how the cache for related entities is invalidated to improve template rendering performance.

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Eqbal Quran
Build Sleek Rails Components With Plain Old Ruby Objects

Your website is gaining traction, and you are growing rapidly. Ruby/Rails is your programming language of choice. Your team is bigger and you’ve given up on “fat models, skinny controllers” as a design style for your Rails apps. However, you still don’t want to abandon using Rails? No problem.

In this article, Toptal Software Engineer Eqbal Quran explains how you can decouple and isolate your Rails components using nothing Plain Old Ruby Objects. Ruby objects and abstractions can decouple concerns, simplify testing, and help you produce clean, maintainable code.

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Boško Ivanišević
How Sequel and Sinatra Solve Ruby’s API Problem

The rise of the web and mobile applications has led to an increased need for back-end API services. Ruby on Rails’ philosophy seemingly makes it the ideal framework for creating back-end APIs. However, using Rails only for the API is overkill.

In this article, Freelance Software Engineer Boško Ivanišević explores alternatives to Rails and introduces us to two very mature and powerful gems, Sinatra and Sequel, which in combination provide powerful tools for creating server-side APIs.

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Behsaad Ramez
Social Network APIs: The Internet’s Portal to the Real World

Social networks are a rich source of user information. From a person’s current mood to endless streams of photos, there is by now probably a social network for each aspect of human life. From the development side, access to users’ information can be an essential element in providing a truly personalized experience in any application.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Behsaad Ramez shows us how the APIs of some of these social networks stack against each other and how they may be leveraged to accumulate precious information about users.

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Bruz Marzolf
Hunting Down Memory Issues In Ruby: A Definitive Guide

Memory issues in programs can be quite frustrating whether you’re the user or the developer attempting to solve the problem. In Ruby, the garbage collector plays a vital role in managing your program’s memory so that you can focus on other important things. However, it is often possible to overwhelm the garbage collector or end up with sneaky resources that cannot be freed, which can lead to all sorts of memory issues.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Bruz Marzolf explains why certain memory issues arise in Ruby applications and how to tackle them easily.

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Bhushan Lodha
HTTP Request Testing: A Developer's Survival Tool

It’s tragically common for developers to come into a project where proper automated testing has been and will continue to be overlooked. It’s a situation Freelance Developer Bhushan Lodha has found himself in all too often; fortunately, he’s found a solution. In this article, he briefly covers the reasons why testing is overlooked and ultimately explains his “coding life hack” to ensure quality control even when he can’t introduce a testing framework.

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Ahmed AbdelHalim
Clean Code and The Art of Exception Handling

Exceptions are as old as programming itself. An unhandled exception may cause unexpected behavior, and results can be spectacular. Over time, these errors have contributed to the impression that exceptions are bad.

But exceptions are a fundamental element of modern programming. Rather than fearing exceptions, we should embrace them and learn how to benefit from them. In this article, we will discuss how to manage exceptions elegantly, and use them to write clean code that is more maintainable.

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Francisco Temudo
How to Set up a Microservices Architecture in Ruby: A Step by Step Guide

Microservices are one of the latest trends in software design. In a microservices architecture, the classic monolithic back-end is substituted by a suite of distributed services. This design allows better separation of responsibilities, easier maintenance, greater flexibility in the choice of technologies for each service, and easier scalability and fault tolerance.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Francisco Temudo guides us in a step-by-step tutorial on how to build a microservices suite using Ruby.

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Nazar Hussain
Building a Color-based Image Search Engine in Ruby

With modern image editing tools, we often take for granted the ability to extract or identify color on some part of any image. However, doing it programmatically is not exactly so straightforward. Camalian, a Ruby gem, changes that, making extracting and manipulating colors in an image as easy as possible. In this article, Toptal engineer Nazar Hussain provides some insight into how various color spaces work, introduces Camalian, and gives an overview of how to use it to build a color-based image search engine in Ruby.

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Nikola Todorovic
Ruby Metaprogramming Is Even Cooler Than It Sounds

Ruby metaprogramming, one of the most interesting aspects of Ruby, enables the programming language to achieve an extreme level of expressiveness. It is because of this very feature that many gems, such as RSpec and ActiveRecord, can work the way they do. In this article, Toptal engineer Nikola Todorovic demystifies Ruby metaprogramming using some examples that are relevant to everyday programming and aims to bring it closer to average Ruby developers.

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Carlos Ramirez III
How to Use Rails Helpers: A Bootstrap Carousel Demonstration

One of the most misused, misunderstood, and neglected of all the Rails built-in structures is the view helper. Helpers often get a bad reputation for being a dumping ground for one-off methods used across the entire application’s view layer. But what if your helpers could be more semantic, better organized, and even reusable across projects? What if they could be more than just one-off functions sprinkled throughout the view, but powerful methods that generated complex markup with ease leaving your views free of conditional logic and code?

Let’s see how to do this when building an image carousel, with the familiar Twitter Bootstrap framework and some good old-fashioned object-oriented programming.

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Nick McCrea
Learn to Code: Wisdom and Tools for the Journey

It’s no surprise that more and more people, from all kinds of backgrounds, are deciding to learn to code. But, each person who tackles the task is soon faced with an unpleasant reality: Learning to program is hard. Contrary to expectations, the feeling of “I don’t get it,” may persist unabated long into the journey, making once bright-eyed beginners feel hopeless, lost, and ready to give up.

The moral of the story is this: Be prepared. The path to programmer paradise is a long one, and without the right mindset at the beginning, it can quickly lose its appeal. In this article, I’ll attempt to give you some guidance on what to expect on your journey, how best to go about it, and what tools and resources you may find helpful along the way.

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Amaury Andres Peniche Gonzalez
Meet Volt, A Promising Ruby Framework For Dynamic Applications

In an attempt to make web applications a lot more dynamic, front-end Javascript frameworks like Angular.js, Backbone.js and Ember.js have gained a lot of popularity. However, these frameworks often require a back-end application to be useful, so they are used in conjunction with web frameworks like Ruby on Rails and Django.

On the other hand, Volt is capable of managing the back-end and a dynamic front-end; since both functionalities are tightly integrated into its core.

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Ahmed AbdelHalim
The Publish-Subscribe Pattern on Rails: An Implementation Tutorial

The publish-subscribe pattern] (or pub/sub, for short) is a messaging pattern where senders of messages (publishers), do not program the messages to be sent directly to specific receivers (subscribers). Instead, the programmer “publishes” messages (events), without any knowledge of any subscribers there may be.

This article provides insight in how to use the pub/sub pattern, in Rails, to communicate messages between different system components without these components knowing anything about each other’s identity.

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Ryan Wilcox
The Many Interpreters and Runtimes of the Ruby Programming Language

Which Ruby implementation is right for your project? While the reference implementation (Ruby MRI) remains the interpreter of choice, an alternate Ruby implementation may be right for your project, depending on your operational goals and constraints.

This article showcases the Ruby interpreter implementations and runtimes available today, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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Arkadiy Zabazhanov
Elasticsearch for Ruby on Rails: A Tutorial to the Chewy Gem

Elasticsearch provides a powerful, scalable tool for indexing and querying massive amounts of structured data, built on top of the Apache Lucene library.

Building on the foundation of Elasticsearch and the Elasticsearch-Ruby client, we’ve developed and released our own improvement (and simplification) of the Elasticsearch application search architecture that also provides tighter integration with Rails. We’ve packaged it as a Ruby gem named Chewy.

This post discusses how we accomplished this, including the technical obstacles that emerged during implementation.

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Ryan Wilcox
Your Boss Won't Appreciate TDD: Try This Behavior-Driven Development Example

Testing. It always seems to get left to the last minute, then cut because you’re out of time, budget, or whatever else. Management wonders why developers can’t just “get it right the first time”, and developers (especially on large systems) can be taken off-guard when different stakeholders describe different parts of the system.

With behavior-driven development, you can turn testing into a shared process that focuses on the behaviors of the system, why they matter, and who cares.

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Alexandre Mondaini Calvão
A Year Building a WebRTC Application: Lessons in Startup Engineering

I’ve been an Engineer at Toptal for just about one year now, working on the same project since I joined the network: Ondello, a service that connects doctors and patients over WebRTC.

When I first joined Ondello, I was hired as a Senior Ruby on Rails Developer, tasked to build a service up from scratch. These days, we’re a team of multiple developers working on a fairly large, complex system.

With this post, I’d like to share the story behind Ondello. Specifically, I’d like to talk about: how a simple application became not-so-simple, and how our use of cutting-edge technologies posed problems I’d never considered before.

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Krešimir Bojčić
What are the Benefits of Ruby on Rails? After Two Decades of Programming, I Use Rails

Sometimes I hear people complaining about their clients, saying that they insist on using Rails, that they’ve had too much Kool Aid. If they are recruiters, they almost feel sick in the stomach from perspective of having to find yet another ROR primadona. From the programmers point of view it sometimes looks like clients don’t have a clue. However, I believe most clients know their options just fine and they still decide to go with Rails.

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Daniel Lewis
Build Dumb, Refactor Smart: How to Massage Problems Out of Ruby on Rails Code

Sometimes, clients give us feature requests that we really don’t like. It’s not that we don’t like our clients, we love our clients. It’s not that we don’t like the feature, most client-requested features are aligned perfectly with their business goals and income. Sometimes, the reason we don’t like a feature request is that the easiest way to solve it is to write bad code, and we don’t have an Elegant Solution on the top of our heads. This will throw many of us on fruitless searches through RubyToolbox, github, developer blogs, and stackoverflow looking for a gem or plugin or example code that will make us feel better about ourselves.

Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s okay to write bad code. Sometimes, bad code is easier to refactor into beautiful code than a poorly thought out solution implemented under a time-crunch.

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Ryan Wilcox
How to Work Remotely and Still Be the Best

Starting a new remote gig, be it a contract project or a full-time job, can be a little intimidating if you’re used to going into an office day after day.

But this style of employment is growing in popularity, with some very notable companies lending it their endorsements.

I’ve worked remotely for years now on projects of various scales and durations. With this post, I hope to enumerate some of the best practices that I’ve picked up for working in a variety of situations. The advice here ranges from specific recommendations for software and hardware, to tips for hitting your team’s deadlines.

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