Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category
October 13, 2010
We're happy to announce NinjaScript: a jQuery plugin for unobtrusive scripting.
- CSS-like language for web page behavior
- Define rich behaviors that include both event handlers and transformations.
- Durable behaviors that survive DOM alteration, with performance comparable to jQuery's live() method.
- Handy built-in behaviors for AJAX.
On the other hand, one hears a lot about "Unobtrusive Is Hard" and how a graceful degrade takes twice as long, etc etc. At the same time, software exists to encapsulate skills. Could be you'll be seeing a Rails plugin from LRD soon to convert the big Rails helpers into degrading versions.
What's it look like?
Here's a very simple example. Suppose you have an existing
June 8, 2010
Introducing Convection, an open-source (MIT License) project of Logical Reality Design. Need to swap files with clients or collaborators, but don't want to (or can't) trust those files to Amazon or sendbigfiles.com? Want fine-grained control over which users can see which files? Try Convection.
Lots of file exchange services exist, for example SendBigFiles.com etc. However, all of these services are hosted on someone else's hardware, and most of them share files by transferring URLs -- usually via email -- without good access control or authorization schemes.
We built Convection because a client needed to transfer files with other companies, but they needed to host the system themselves because the contracts they hold with their own clients require them not to store data on services that they don't control. The specifications Convection was built around were:
- Hosted on our own server.
- Downloads require a login, and files cannot be shared by email.
- Users must log in to download files or see available files.
- User accounts can be grouped, groups can be managed.
- Files can be shared with an entire group.
- Files uploaded by users default to minimal permission - visible only to the uploader and to admins.
- All communications over SSL. (we made this optional)
Installing and hosting Convection
To run Convection, you will need a webserver capable of running a Ruby on Rails application, and a database. Setting such a thing up is beyond the scope of this post. If you have a Dreamhost account, you can set up a Rails-capable domain with a couple of clicks in their web panel. In addition to the server, you will need to set up a database (we have only tested MySQL, but Convection should work with any SQL database for which Rails/ActiveRecord has a supported adapter, including PostgreSQL and Oracle), and initialize the database with these two commands:
> rake db:migrate RAILS_ENV=production
> rake db:seed RAILS_ENV=production
This will generate the tables necessary for Convection to run, and create a pair of initial demo users "admin" and "user", both with password "foobar".
If you are setting up a server yourself, there are plenty of guides to deploying Rails on the web. Much of our own guide to deploying CruiseControl.rb can be used to set up any Rails application on Slicehost or any other Ubuntu Linux hosting provider.
Let me know if you're trying to deploy Convection and having trouble: if we know people are using it we may put effort into making it easier to deploy and install, and write a more thorough guide.
A few other links that may help you with deploying a Rails application, depending on your environment:
- Using Phusion Passenger to Deploy a Rails Application on Apache
- Deploying Rails Applications (book)
If you Google around you may find plenty of other links relevant to your particular environment.
If you log into your running Convection application as an administrator (initial user "admin", password "foobar"), an Admin Tools utility will appear in the right hand column. From here, you can access tools for creating users, and groups, and the general site configuration.
In general site config, you can set your site name and logo, set whether or not the site requires SSL access (Note: your server must already support SSL!) outgoing email and email notification preferences, add Google analytics, and an assortment of other site configuration operations that are mostly self-explanatory.
Upload progress bar: experimental feature.
If your site hosts large uploads that take a while to transfer, you can try our experimental tools to provide an upload progress bar to the user. This tool will only work if your site is served by Apache, and requires installing and configuring an optional module for Apache.
To enable this tool, follow the instructions in the README file and associated links, and turn on the progress bar setting in site preferences.
Helping us improve Convection
Convection is currently in version 1.1.4 and has been in production in two places (that we know of) for about five months as of June 8, 2010.
Please let us know if you are using Convection and enjoy it (or don't). Feel free to request features or alterations, but Convection is open source, so also please consider contributing if you have ideas!
December 14, 2009
The new Ruby on Rails Tutorial book and website by Michael Hartl has launched at RailsTutorial.org. Hartl is the author of RailsSpace and cofounder of the Insoshi Ruby on Rails social networking platform.
Logical Reality did the logo and layout design work for Rails Tutorial.
June 13, 2009
One of my clients, UniThrive, was just written up in the New York Times. Go check it out!
In the photo, the young person’s eyes are brown and kind-looking. She is in need of financial help. A new Web site that brings together the charitable minded and those in need has posted the details of her request.
This is not one of those arrangements where donors can sponsor a needy child or a sorghum farmer in the developing world. The person asking for help is a 21-year-old neurobiology major at Harvard, and she is requesting a loan from Harvard alumni.
May 5, 2009
Where have I been the last few months?
Busy building and launching UniThrive.org!
UniThrive.org is a fantastic new non-profit startup that seeks to help reduce the cost of higher education by networking college students with alumni, and facilitating direct, zero-interest loans between alumni and students to defray tuition costs.
Technologically, UniThrive is a Rails application that began as a fork of the open-source social networking application Insoshi. Since forking Insoshi, we've nearly doubled the size of the code.
Today, UniThrive is in a live beta test available to students and alumni of Harvard University. Take a look, and check out the UniThrive Blog!
July 10, 2008
This morning we launched a refreshed site and an all-new online store for one of my clients, CordobaSzekely Productions.
Robert Cordoba and Deborah Székely are dance instructions and multiple-time national champions at the U.S. Open West Coast Swing Championships. They teach West Coast Swing and other dances all around the US and the world, and market a line of dance instructional DVDs.
Their former site had gotten a bit long in the tooth, so this was a just a quick refresher, keeping the former graphics design but bringing the HTML and CSS up to contemporary standards. Their online store was completely reimplemented using the open-source Zen Cart, where formerly they'd used the proprietary (and often difficult to use) Miva Merchant.
May 29, 2008
Apparently I can't stop playing, because today I built and uploaded a third design for the LRDesign main site: "Blue Art". This one required the IE PNG fix from Twin Helix for IE 6.0 compatibility.
I think there are still a few annoying bugs in the stylesheet switcher on IE; once I clean those up I plan to write a post explaining how to easily set up this kind of stylesheet switcher in a Rails project.
May 29, 2008
For quite a while I've wanted to decorate the main Logical Reality site with multiple, switchable themes, implementing each with pure CSS on top of semantic HTML markup, a la the CSS Zen Garden. Last night I finally got a start on that, implementing a simple stylesheet switcher and a grunge theme with textures from Urban Dirty.
To check it out, load the main site and click the "Change Skin" link in the upper left.
May 15, 2008
The Logical Reality main site has been badly neglected for far too long: for several months it's just been a plain-text site with no theme, listing a bare portfolio. It's so hard to prioritize working on my own site when there is plenty of work to do for my clients!
A custom Ruby on Rails portfolio display engine is in the works (patterned after the one I did for La Cañada Design Group). My goal is to make it skinnable with switchable themes, implemented entirely in CSS on semantic markup, a la the CSS Zen Garden. In the meantime, though, I've uploaded a basic site (written in RoR, but with only static pages for the moment) with a new minimalist theme.
April 30, 2008
The Insoshi Open-Source Social Networking Platform project was just launched yesterday! Logical Reality designed both the Insoshi logo, and landing/informational site that leads new users to the project itself.
Insoshi is built with Ruby on Rails, and is the first major social networking tool to be released completely open-source. Here's an article on Insoshi and the launch at TechCrunch.
The site was a rapid-development Web-2.0 style project, developed using the blueprint CSS framework and other standards-compliant techniques. The logo was chosen to represent Insoshi's core functionality in social networking: communication between people. The lowercase i's on the ends invoke iconified people, with the "broadcast" arcs indicating communication from one to the other.