James Crisp

Coding, calisthenics, book reviews, mind hacks and the occasional personal bit.

Month: August 2008

Contact Form For Mephisto updated for Drax 0.8

Mephisto Drax (version 0.8) introduces breaking changes for plugins. I’ve just finished updating the contact / feedback form plugin. It’s now working fine and tests passing.

Installation instructions are the same as before except that the ‘contact_notifier’ has moved from the ‘lib’ directory to the ‘app’ directory. It still needs to be updated to include your destination email address for contact mails.

If you’re a Mephisto plug-in developer, you might be interested in checking out my post on migrating Mephisto plugins to Drax. It’s based on my experiences with the contact_form.

Migrating Mephisto Plugins to Drax 0.8

There have been some major changes to Mephisto in the latest release (0.8 Drax) that break existing plugins. If you’re interested in migrating your existing plugin(s) over to Drax, read on.

Repository Move
First thing to note is that the Mephisto code base has moved from SVN to github.

Plugin Architecture Changes
There is no longer a base class for Mephisto plugins. Instead, you create Mephisto plugins using Rails Engines. If you’re migrating a pre-Drax plugin to Drax and Rails engines, you’ll most likely need to:

  • Remove your plugin file – there’s no base class for it any more so you’ll get errors like: ‘superclass must be a Class (Module given) (TypeError)’
  • Move your routes into a ‘routes.rb’ file in your plugin root directory.
  • In your plugin root directory, create an ‘app’ directory, with ‘views’, ‘models’ and ‘controllers’ sub-directories. Move your code files into the appropriate folders in the ‘app’ directory. These will be auto-loaded.
  • Remove various lines in your init.rb which manually add your plugin file directories to the load paths, if you have these.
  • If you inherit from the ApplicationController, add ‘unloadable‘ to your controller class. This will fix errors in development mode like ‘A copy of ApplicationController has been removed from the module tree but is still active!’
  • An example
    You can have a look at my contact_form plugin code. Revision 18 is before Drax and engines and uses the old approach. Revisions 19 and later are using Rails engines and will work with Drax.

    UPDATE: Latest code at GitHub

Simple REST Client

While preparing for my upcoming REST talk, I made a basic REST client. It’s nothing special but allows you to set the verb, request body and see the status code and all the headers on the response. It’s quite handy for debugging and exploration of RESTful services.

Feel free to download the:

Hope it is useful and saves you having to whip up your own little client!

UPDATE: Source now available on GitHub!

RiskAssess – Risk Assessments for Schools

In my spare time, I’ve been developing RiskAssess, an online risk assessment system for schools. RiskAssess helps teachers and lab assistants to quickly and easily produce risk assessments for laboratory experiments which meet Australian standards. RiskAssess should help decrease the number of accidents in school laboratories, and also help schools meet legal requirements.

I’m pleased to say that the site is now well and truly launched and we have schools doing risk assessments every day using RiskAssess. There’s still much to do and many new features to add, but so far we’ve had very positive feedback from the schools using the system.

On the technical side, RiskAssess is a Ruby on Rails site.

Tech Ed Talk: REST Patterns and .NET

I’ll be giving a talk at Tech Ed this year on REST and how it can be implemented in .NET, much inspired by the thoughts of Jim Webber on good RESTful web services, and Garr Reynolds on the “Zen” presentation style. Here’s some more info:

REST Patterns and .NET

Sydney Convention Centre, Darling Harbour
5 September 2008
10:15am – 11:30am

REST has sparked furious debate, and reactions from fan-boy adoration to hate. As the arguments quiet and the dust settles, it is becoming clear that the RESTful style is a viable choice for the Enterprise. Framework support is growing rapidly. WCF now provides basic REST support. Meanwhile, the budding MVC framework opens the door to building services which leverage hypermedia. This talk will leave you with an understanding of the RESTful architectural style and provide you with recommendations on designing and building both simple and hypermedia driven web services in .NET.

Hope to see you there!

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