Nos dias 30 e 31 de Agosto de 2012, aconteceu o maior evento de Ruby da América Latina: a RubyConf Brasil, e a Plataformatec marcou presença com palestras e lightning talks. O evento foi um sucesso, com mais de 750 participantes durante a conferência, e mais de 500 pessoas assistindo o evento online através do site da Eventials.

Plataformatec Team

Abaixo você pode ver os temas, com links para os slides e vídeos:

Palestras

Vamos falar sobre Concorrência

Por José Valim. Confira o vídeo.

Escrevendo Aplicações Melhores com Active Model

Por Carlos Antonio. Confira o vídeo.

Conhecendo as Entranhas do Rails

Por Rafael França. Confira o vídeo.

Lightning Talks

Contribuindo para o Rails

Por Carlos Galdino.

I18nAlchemy

Por Lucas Mazza.

Copyright, Licenças Open Source e você!

Por George Guimarães.

Confira o vídeo das Lightning Talks.

Sinta-se à vontade para ver e rever os slides e vídeos das palestras, e nos passar seu feedback através dos comentários. Não deixe também de conferir as outras palestras disponíveis, e se você escreveu um post sobre o evento em seu blog, adoraríamos ver um comentário com um link compartilhando seu post.

Gostaríamos também de agradecer e parabenizar o Fábio Akita e a Locaweb pela ótima organização e alta qualidade do evento, tudo funcionou perfeitamente para que todos pudessem aproveitar ao máximo a conferência.

E nos vemos na RubyConf Brasil 2013!

Nos próximos dias 30 e 31 de agosto, estaremos presentes na Ruby Conf Brasil com três palestrantes!

No dia 31, às 9h40, José Valim falará na Sala 1 sobre concorrência e sobre o papel e a importância disso no desenvolvimento de aplicações.

Às 11h, na sala 2, Carlos Antonio falará sobre como usar Active Model para escrevermos aplicações melhores.

Por fim, às 11h50, na sala 1, Rafael França falará sobre as entranhas do Rails e as grandes novidades do Rails 4.

Não deixe também de votar em nossos Lightning Talks, que serão realizados no primeiro dia, a partir das 18h20:

Nos vemos lá!

A couple weeks ago, Aaron Patterson (aka @tenderlove) wrote about getting rid of config.threadsafe! on Rails 4. When discussing multi-process and multi-threaded servers in production, one important aspect of the discussion that came up in the blog post was code loading.

This blog post is about which code loading strategies exist in a Rails application, how they affect multi-process and multi-threaded servers, and how to build libraries that will behave well in both environments.

Require

The most common form of loading code in Ruby is via requires.

require "some/library"

Some libraries work great by simply using requires, but as they grow, some of them tend to rely on autoload techniques to avoid loading all up-front. autoload is particularly important on Rails applications because it helps boot time to stay low in development and test environments, since we will load modules as we need them.

Ruby autoload

One of the strategies used by Rails and libraries is Ruby autoload:

module Foo
  autoload :Bar, "path/to/bar"
end

Now, the first time Foo::Bar is accessed, it will be automatically loaded. The issue with this approach is that it is not thread-safe, except for latest JRuby versions (since 1.7) and Ruby master (2.0).

This means that eager loading these modules on boot (i.e. loading it all up-front) is essential for multi-threaded production servers, otherwise it could lead to scenarios where your application tries to access a module that does not exist yet when it just booted.

In multi-process servers, we may or may not want to eager load them. For instance, if your web server uses fork to handle each request (like Unicorn, Passenger), loading them up-front will become more important as we move towards Ruby 2.0 which will provide copy-on-write semantics. In such cases, if we load Foo::Bar on boot, we will have one copy of Foo::Bar shared between all processes otherwise each process will end up loading its own copy of Foo::Bar possibly leading to higher memory usage.

The downside of eager loading is that we may eventually load code that your application never uses, increasing memory usage. This not a problem if your server uses fork or threads, it is exactly what we want (share and load the most we can), but in case you server doesn’t (for example, Thin) nothing bad is going to happen.

Rails autoload

Another strategy used to load code is the one provided by ActiveSupport::Dependencies. In this mode, you don’t need to specify which module to load and its file, but instead Rails tracks a series of directories and tries to load missing constants based on it.

For instance, when you first access the constant User, Rails tries to find it in many directories, including app/models in your application. If a user.rb exists in it, it is loaded.

This approach is not thread safe, so regardless of using Ruby master or JRuby for a threaded server, it needs to be eager loaded. For multi-process servers, the trade-offs are the same as in the previous section.

So, eager loading

In other words, if you are using Unicorn, Puma, Passenger or any JRuby server, you probably want to eager load. Geez, so it basically means that most of us probably do want to eager load.

Although Rails has been taking care of eager loading its frameworks (defined using Ruby autoload) and its application and engines (defined using Rails autoload), the Rails ecosystem has not taken care of eager loading its libraries. This blame is shared with Rails, which could have provided better mechanisms to do so.

In order to better understand the problem, let’s take a template engine like HAML as an example. If the template engine uses Ruby autoload and it is not eager loaded, one of these things will happen:

  1. On multi-threaded servers, it won’t be thread-safe depending on the Ruby version, leading to crashes on the first requests;

  2. On multi-process servers with fork, HAML will have to be loaded on every request, unnecessarily taking response time and memory on each process instance;

  3. On multi-process servers without fork, it will be loaded when its needed the first time, without extra-hassle;

To avoid problems with 1) and 2), Rails 4 will provide tools and mechanisms to make it easier for libraries to eager load code.

First, Rails 4 will ship with a config.eager_load option. Today, eager loading an application is coupled with the config.cache_classes configuration. This means that every time we cache classes, we eager load the app. This is not necessarily the best configuration. For example, in the test environment, an application could benefit by lazily loading the application when running a single test file.

Second, Rails will include a config.eager_load_namespaces option to allow libraries to register namespaces that Rails should eager load. For instance, for Rails 4, Simple Form will probably execute:

config.eager_load_namespaces << SimpleForm

Rails will invoke eager_load! on all objects in the config.eager_load_namespaces list whenever config.eager_load is set to true. For Simple Form, eager loading will load inputs, form builder and others on boot, instead of loading when they are first used in production.

The idea of registering namespaces (and not blocks) is that a user should be able to remove a namespace from the list if it is causing problems or if they don’t really need to eager load it.

Rails engines and applications will be automatically added to config.eager_load_namespaces. This is because engines and applications rely on the Rails autoload for everything inside the app directory, which is not thread-safe and should always run on production.

As an extra, Rails will also provide a convenience module called ActiveSupport::Autoload to make it easier to define which modules are auto and eager loaded. We’ll see how to use it next.

The recipe

In order to make your libraries eager load ready, here is an easy recipe:

1) Don’t worry about app. Everything in app is automatically taken care by Rails applications and engines since they are always added to config.eager_load_namespaces;

2) If you only use require inside lib, you are good to go! This is the recommended for Rails applications and small libraries. However, if your library is considerably big, you may want to use Ruby autoload (next step) to avoid loading your library up-front on boot (which affects rake tasks, development, etc).

3) If you are using autoload in lib, you need to eager load your code. In order to do that, you can use ActiveSupport::Autoload to annotate which modules to eager load. For example, here is the SimpleForm module before being eager load ready:

module SimpleForm
  autoload :Components,        'simple_form/components'
  autoload :ErrorNotification, 'simple_form/error_notification'
  autoload :FormBuilder,       'simple_form/form_builder'
  autoload :Helpers,           'simple_form/helpers'
  autoload :I18nCache,         'simple_form/i18n_cache'
  autoload :Inputs,            'simple_form/inputs'
  autoload :MapType,           'simple_form/map_type'
  autoload :Wrappers,          'simple_form/wrappers'
end

And now eager load ready:

module SimpleForm
  extend ActiveSupport::Autoload
 
  # Helpers are modules that are included on inputs.
  # Usually we don't need to worry about eager loading
  # modules because we will usually eager load a class
  # that uses the module.
  autoload :Helpers
 
  # Wrappers are loaded on boot, it is part of Simple Form
  # configuration API, so no need to worry about them.
  autoload :Wrappers
 
  # We need to eager load these otherwise they will
  # be rendered the first time just when a form is
  # first rendered.
  eager_autoload do
    # Notice ActiveSupport::Autoload allows us to skip
    # the file name as it guesses it from the module.
    autoload :Components
    autoload :ErrorNotification
    autoload :FormBuilder
    autoload :I18nCache
    autoload :Inputs
    autoload :MapType
  end
 
  # ActiveSupport::Autoload automatically defines
  # an eager_load! method. In this case, we are
  # extending the method to also eager load the
  # inputs and components inside Simple Form.
  def self.eager_load!
    super
    SimpleForm::Inputs.eager_load!
    SimpleForm::Components.eager_load!
  end
end

The comments above explain part of the decision process taken in choosing if a module should be eager loaded or not. To be clear, the question you should be asking is: “if I don’t eager load this module, when will it be autoloaded”? If the answer is: “during a request”, you have to eager load it.

This is the reason we don’t need to eager load something like ActionController::Base. Because Rails already eager loads your models, controllers, etc and if you are actually using Action Controller, you will have a controller inheriting from ActionController::Base which then forces it to be loaded on boot.

Similar reasoning applies to most of Active Model modules. There is no need to eager load ActiveModel::Validations because if an application is using it, it will load a framework or a model that actually requires it on boot. You will find that this reasoning will probably apply to most modules in your library.

After defining your eager loads, all you need to do is to define a Railtie and include your eager load namespace in it:

module SimpleForm
  class Railtie < Rails::Railtie
    config.eager_load_namespaces << SimpleForm
  end
end

Summing up

Although Ruby is moving to a direction where autoload is threadsafe, which makes eager load not a requirement, improvements to the language, garbage collectors and web-servers make eager load a “nice to have” feature.

Today, it is very likely that you want to eager load the majority of your code when deploying applications to production. Although Rails has always been eager load friendly, the majority of the tools in the ecosystem are not. Rails 4 will change this panorama by not only giving flexible configuration options to app developers but also convenient abstraction for library developers.

The general recommendation is to use require to load code inside the lib directory if the project is small. Engines and applications do not need to worry about the app directory, since it is automatically taken care by Rails.

The more complex libraries probably already use autoload in the lib directory to avoid loading unnecessary amount of code in development. In such cases they need to provide custom eager_load! instructions for productions environment, which can be done with the help of the recipe above and Rails modules.

This blog post ended up too long but the subject is important and should be considered with care by the authors who maintain the most used libraries out there. Cheers to them!

Aqui na Plataformatec eu trabalho lado-a-lado com desenvolvedores (back/front-end), designers e gerentes de projetos. Francamente, é difícil saber onde termina o trabalho de um e onde começa o trabalho do outro. Existe muita sobreposição de conhecimentos entre os membros das nossas equipes e isso é muito bom! Nós realmente acreditamos no poder das equipes multi-disciplinares e os nossos resultados nos convencem cada vez mais disso.

A capa do livro "HTML5 e CSS3: Domine a web do futuro"

A capa do livro “HTML5 e CSS3: Domine a web do futuro”

E a melhor evidência de que eu também acredito em multi-disciplinaridade é o meu recém lançado livro: “HTML5 e CSS3: Domine a web do futuro” publicado pela Casa do Código. Sou desenvolvedor há algum tempo e sempre me interessei por front-end. No começo eu tive dúvidas em qual assunto me aprofundar, mas entre escolher um caminho ou outro acabei optando em aprofundar em ambos. Confesso que eu não me arrependo em nada da minha escolha e estou muito contente em ter aprendido bastante ao longo do caminho e hoje eu poder compartilhar o que aprendi em HTML e CSS através deste livro.

Escrevi este livro pensando em desenvolvedores web que desejam aprimorar os seus conhecimentos em front-end e profissionais que estejam dedicando exclusivamente a estes assuntos. Aprendi muitas coisas ao ‘fazer’, por isso eu tentei replicar este tipo de aprendizado no livro com vários tutoriais e lições sobre técnicas clássicas de CSS e HTML (utilizando float, pseudo elementos e outros) e combinações de CSS3 para componentes visuais.

Para quem se interessar, o livro está a venda online na Casa do Código (versões impressa, .mobi, .epub e .pdf).

Plataformatec na QCon SP

Aproveito para fazer o convite para assitirem o meu lightning talk sobre CSS3 Transitions e a palestra do José Valim “Uma abordagem moderna para programação na Erlang VM: Elixir” na QCon SP, neste final de semana, no dia 04 de Agosto.

Fora a minha palestra, eu estarei no stand da Casa do Código (lá na QCon). Passe por lá para bater um papo. Será um prazer! ;)

Besides the big and shiny features that Rails 4 holds, there’s a lot of small improvements on several other sections of the Rails framework – helpers, core extensions, app configurations and more – that might not even hit the Changelogs but will somehow make our lifes easier in the future. One of these hidden gems that I’ve found recently is an improvement on the content_for helper to flush and replace previous chunks of HTML with new ones.

The content_for that we are used to

The content_for method is an old friend of every Rails developer, and it’s a pretty simple and flexible helper. You can store a chunk of HTML from a String or a block, and grab it somewhere else in your views or yield it directly into your templates. It’s a pretty handy trick to move data from your views into your layouts, like page titles, custom meta tags or specific script tags that your page needs to include.

# On your 'application.html.erb' layout, inside the '<head>' tag.
<%= yield :metatags %>
 
# Then, into a specific view
<% content_for :metatags do %>
  <meta property="og:image" content="http://example.com/image.jpg" />
<% end %>

Multiple calls of the content_for helper using the same identifier will concatenate them and output them together when you read it back on your views, as:

<% content_for :example, "This will be rendered" %>
<% content_for :example do %>
  <h1>This will be rendered too!</h1>
<% end %>

On some scenarios this behavior might not be desired, and with Rails 4 you can flush out the stored pieces of an identifier and replace it instead of adding more content to it: using the flush: true option. The first implementation used an extra true argument, but we changed to use a Hash instead, so the flush key can express better the behavior we’re expecting.

<% content_for :example, "This will be rendered" %>
<% content_for :example, flush: true do %>
  <h1>But this will override everything on the ':example' block.</h1>
<% end %>

The gallery situation

I’ve stumbled upon this on a recent project, where we had a somewhat classic scenario: a partial named _gallery, responsible for rendering the piece of HTML to display a gallery of images that also supplies a content_for block with a script tag to include the required libraries to put the gallery to work.

<section class="gallery">
  <!-- a truckload of HTML tags -->
</section>
<% content_for :scripts, javascript_include_tag('gallery') %>

It works like a charm. But with an updated requirement we had the case where multiple galleries could be present on the same page, rendering the _gallery partial several times. The required HTML would be present, but the gallery.js script would be included multiple times into the rendered page. Instead of working this out using instance variables to check that the partial was rendered at least once, we could let Rails do all the hard work for us, using the flush option when including the gallery.js script.

<section class="gallery">
  <!-- a truckload of HTML tags -->
</section>
<% # We can render this partial several times and this script will be included just once %>
<% content_for :scripts, javascript_include_tag('gallery'), flush: true %>

Back to the present: Rails 3.2

Well, while this seems to be a perfect solution to my problem, this feature isn’t available on Rails 3.2 or on the 3-2-stable branch – it’s only available on the master branch that will be released with Rails 4. But, backporting this feature into a 3.x application is pretty simple, using a helper of your own.

def single_content_for(name, content = nil, &block)
  @view_flow.set(name, ActiveSupport::SafeBuffer.new)
  content_for(name, content, &block)
end

After some source diving into the ActionPack source code we’re done – it just needs to replace any present content with a brand new SafeBuffer instance before storing the piece of HTML.

What do you think about this little addition to Rails 4? Can you think of a similar problem that could be solved with this instead of a custom hack?

I’d like to start with a question: Have you ever seen code like this?

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
end
 
User.new.tap do |user|
  user.name     = "John Doe"
  user.username = "john.doe"
  user.password = "john123"
end

I have. But what few developers know is that many methods in Active Record already accept a block, so you don’t need to invoke tap in the first place. And that’s all because Active Record loves blocks! Let’s go through some examples.

Using blocks with Active Record

When creating an Active Record object, either by using new or create/create!, you can give a block straight to the method call instead of relying on tap:

User.new do |user|
  user.name     = "John Doe"
  user.username = "john.doe"
  user.password = "john123"
end
 
User.create do |user|
  user.name     = "John Doe"
  user.username = "john.doe"
  user.password = "john123"
end

And you can mix and match with hash initialization:

User.new(name: "John Doe") do |user|
  user.username = "john.doe"
  user.password = "john123"
end

All these methods, when receiving a block, yield the current object to the block so that you can do whatever you want with it. It’s basically the same effect as using tap. And it all happens after the attributes hash have been assigned and other internal Active Record code has been run during the object initialization, except by the after_initialize callbacks.

That’s neat. That means we can stop using tap in a few places now. But wait, there’s more.

Active Record associations also love blocks

We talked about using blocks when building an Active Record object using new or create, but associations like belongs_to or has_many also work with that, when calling build or create on them:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :posts
end
 
class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :user
end
 
# has_many
user = User.first
user.posts.build do |post|
  post.title = "Active Record <3 Blocks"
  post.body  = "I can give tap a break! <3 <3 <3"
end
 
# belongs_to
post = Post.first
post.build_user do |user|
  user.name     = "John Doe <3 blocks"
  user.username = "john.doe"
  user.password = "john123"
end

That’s even better. That means we can stop using tap in a few more places.

Wrapping up: Active Record <3 blocks

It is possible to avoid extra work, sometimes simple stuff such as using tap with methods like new and create, other times more complicated ones, by getting to know what the framework can give us for free.

There are other places inside Active Record that accept blocks, for instance first_or_initialize and friends will execute the given block when the record is not found, to initialize the new one.

In short, next time you need a block when creating records using Active Record, take a minute to see if you can avoid using tap by using an already existing feature. Remember: Active Record <3 blocks. And don’t do that with blocks only, the main idea here is that you can learn more about the framework, and let it do more work for you.

How about you, do you have any small trick in Ruby or Rails that makes your work easier? Take a minute to share it with others in the comments. :)