Ode to a Ruby Gem

This morning I was thinking about a project that I am doing in Ruby. I found myself thinking to myself  “I sure am looking forward to getting more intimately familiar with active-record.” Active-record is the Object-Relational-Mapping component of Ruby on Rails.

I love a package that makes you eager to learn more about it. Not to say that you have to be intimately familiar with active-record in order to use it. Rails is just so well thought out that studying the API is actually fun. And, Rdoc, the Ruby documentation package, makes writing extensive documentation of your code so easy that programmers usually do a pretty good job of documenting their code.

I have been using active-record in my Rails apps for several years now. The reason that I needed to delve deeper into active-record at this point is that I am getting data from an external source (I’m scraping it from a web page), parsing it using nokogiri, another fine Ruby package, and then caching it in a local database. Consequently, I am having to do some thinking about how to structure the data that I cache.

Let’s face it, I’m not really all that experienced at database architecture. I can hack a little SQL when I need to but I haven’t had to do a lot of data normalization since I studied databases in college. Rails makes it easy to play around with your schema until you get it just right. I don’t mean to gush or anything but Rails makes these things so easy that it feels like playing instead of work. In my case, I guess it is playing, at least to the extent that I am not being paid to do it. But that’s another story.