Most things I do are interconnected

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I work on a lot of different things. Sometimes I get asked how I find the time, but there’s another aspect not related to time management: most of my projects build off of each other.

Draper and RequestStore

This issue got filed in Draper. What Draper does isn’t important, but it did have this code in it:

def self.current
  Thread.current[:current_view_context] ||= build_view_context

def self.current=(context)
  Thread.current[:current_view_context] = context

Basically, storing stuff in a Thread local variable. This is great, normally, except when you run one of those new hot servers like Thin or Puma. They have a different concurrency model, and so while you’d normally expect this Thread local to be nil on each request, it will persist between requests.

I could have just fixed this bug in Draper, but I figured that it might be useful to someone else, so I whipped up a little gem to do it: request_store, and used the gem in Draper. I tweeted about it.

@steveklabnik Holy shit. I love you.

— Dominic Dagradi (@dddagradi) December 17, 2012

Turns out that one of my friends had exactly this problem, and wasn’t sure how to solve it. Now a bunch of people at Heroku are using my gem, and it’s helping them in their work.

I wouldn’t have bothered building it if it didn’t scratch my itch, but by making it easy for other people to use, I helped them scratch their itch too.

Rust for Rubyists and Designing Hypermedia APIs

I’ve been working on a new iteration of Designing Hypermedia APIs that is more linear and like a traditional book. The issue is that I’d built the entire platform for the project myself, and now spitting out ePUB and PDFs would be hard.

Enter Rust for Rubyists: I’d been learning Rust, and there are very few docs since it’s a new programming language. I had also seen Zed Shaw present at RuPy recently, and he showed off Orkestrix, which let him generate a site and a book for music stuff.

So I decided to write up what I’d learned as a tutorial on programming in Rust, and built it using the Orkestrix gear. I also tried out DPD after seeing others use it. It’s only been up for two days, but I really like the combo, and today I pushed my first update out to the people who bought a copy already.

This has given me the confidence that the tooling process is good enough to use for DHAs, so I’ll be doing all of that soon.

Rails and Resque

I started working on Resque because we needed to have a few production implementations of the new ActiveQueue system going before Rails 4 was released. I was already working on Rails to help get 4 out the door, and Terence was obviously swamped by all the things he works on. So helping out with Resque would help out with Rails.

bring_back_snowman and configuration

When I don’t know how to do something, I often look at a gem that does what I’m interested in doing, and copy how it does it. I had never built a gem that allowed you to configure it using the config.something pattern before, so I peeked at a few gems to learn how.

I had also been thinking a lot about the Rails 4 release, and what was new since Rails 3. I was teaching a new batch of people Rails with Jumpstart Lab, my employer, and was explaining why we have form_for generate a ✔. This gave me an idea: What if you could configure what Rails used in this case?

So I built bring_back_snowman. It’s not very useful, but it is cute and fun, and more importantly, it serves as a concise example of how to build a configurable option into your gems. I can always look at that code if I forget how this works, or point others to it if they ask.

Many, many more

These are just the most recent examples I can think of. I’d really encourage you to try this sometime: if you want to learn something, make a new little project. Make it small. Make it focused. Make it help you out with something bigger.

Pretty soon, you’ll feel mega-productive too.