Removing deadweight - cleaning up our Rails app

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development Bullet_white Comments Comments

Every man has their breaking point when it comes to deadweight code. Andre and I hit ours recently and decided to spend all of last week focusing soley on cleaning up Scout (a Rails app). Our goals:

  • Faster tests – our tests took 8 minutes to complete. While it’s the perfect amount of time to catchup on Daily Show clips, it really tested our patience making application-wide changes.
  • Removing deadweight – unused CSS rules, database tables + columns, views, and assets. It’s good having certainty that modifying code will change something in the application.

Here’s how we went about it:

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Kestrel in Production at Papertrail

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Plugins Bullet_white Comments Comments

We’ve added prolific plugin contributor Eric Lindvall’s latest plugins to Scout: Kestrel Overall and Kestrel Queue Monitoring. Kestrel is a simple message queue built from production needs at Twitter. Being the gentleman he is, Eric shared his experiences with Kestrel at Papertrail, a hosted log aggregation service.

Why Kestrel?

As all good message queues should, it provides:

  • transactional reads to prevent losing messages if a worker crashes before finishing processing a message
  • durability to prevent losing messages if a queue server crashes or is stopped after messages have been sent to it
  • “normal” queues (only one client sees a given message) and “fanout queues” (all clients see a given message, which many messaging systems call “topics”)

We picked Kestrel because it has bounded memory usage (it has a configuration setting to specify how many queued messages should reside in RAM, generally defaulting to 128MB), it’s small (I was able to read the entire Scala codebase in a weekend), and running on the JVM (which we have experiencing with) was a plus.

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Giving into reasonableness (acqui-hires)

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development, Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

Last week, Sparrow became the latest poster boy for talent acquisitions (Google gets the team, kills the product). Paying customers complain (I supported it!). Indie devs get depressed as one of their rank sells out.

I disagree with Matt Gemmell that these are a good thing – this is not a feel-good rags-to-riches story. It’s about brilliant developers giving into reasonableness because they didn’t have the runway to be foolish.

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Tomorrow at Fort Collins New Tech: the story I wish I heard before we started Scout

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

There was a clear turning point for Andre and I with Scout – it happened in October 2009. It led to one of our most popular blog articles, “We Just Undid Three Months of Dev work. Here’s What We Learned.”

I’ll be telling that story at the Fort Collins New Tech Meetup tomorrow evening. If you’re a developer starting a business (or struggling turning a side project into one) drop by. If you’re interested in heckling me, stop by too!

 

Easier Dashboard Charts

By Andre Bullet_white Posted in Features Bullet_white Comments Comments

We heard your feedback: adding charts to dashboards is a pain. No longer! Look for the Add Chart button on dashboards to add charts in one step. You don’t have to create a chart separately before adding it to a dashboard.

Big picture – we’re always looking for ways to make Scout easier to use. If there’s something clumsy or difficult you’d like to see improved, hit up the Scout suggestion page.

Recently in charts:

 

Real-world Scout at Rails Machine

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Examples Bullet_white Comments Comments

Josh Nichols of Rails Machine on their monitoring philosophy:

Measure all the metrics and alert on metrics that are actionable.

If you’ve got a bunch of servers, you’re going to want to read Josh Nichols’ How we roll with Scout article on the Rails Machine blog.

Rails Machine is a Ruby on Rails-focused managed hosting provider, which means they’re on the front lines when performance goes bad. From plugins to alerting, Josh details how they stay proactive on performance.

 

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