blog ruby

How to add the VideoJS Yarn package to Rails

It’s not unsurprising that a web tutorial should follow the old ‘how to draw a duck’ format… “draw two circles for the head and body, draw two circles for the eyes, draw the rest of the duck!” Case in point, the videojs project doesn’t elaborate beyond “npm install…” which is nice if you’re using npm every day. If you’re new to the process or are using something a little more complex like Rail’s Yarn/Webpacker integration here’s how to add the VideoJS Yarn package to Rails.

Here’s how to get going, and how to get the new Video.JS theme pack installed while you’re at it. I’m using the Jumpstart Pro provisioning of Yarn, Webpacker etc., which I won’t touch here. So I guess you’ll have to draw the rest of that duck yourself! GoRails has some good webpacker content.

Note that this project uses the (weird) new normal of putting stylesheets within the javascript structure which is described in this Tailwind tutorial (similar to the way Jumpstart is built).

Once you have Yarn functioning as part of your project it’s quite simple. Just as a primer let’s look at the npm installation guide on the Mux themes page. We’re not going to copy this directly…

$ npm install --save video.js @videojs/themes

// Base Video.js theme
import 'video.js/dist/video-js.css';

// City
import '@videojs/themes/dist/city/index.css';

That needs split up into three.

  1. install the npm components using Yarn
  2. amend the import statements and place into your application.scss file
  3. add the unmentioned javascript components into your application.js file

1. Yarn

Add the npm components using Yarn (you’ll recognise this from the npm install line earlier).

yarn add video.js @videojs/themes

Your output will look something like this:

Some warnings are to be expected – take a note of them in case you see errors later.

2. Webpacker’s application.scss

You’ll see a series of ‘@import’ statements in your file already. We need to convert the “import” lines from the turial to “@import”.

@import 'flatpickr/dist/flatpickr.css';

@import 'video.js/dist/video-js.css';
//@import '@videojs/themes/dist/city/index.css';
//@import '@videojs/themes/dist/fantasy/index.css';
//@import '@videojs/themes/dist/forest/index.css';
@import '@videojs/themes/dist/sea/index.css';

You’ll notice at this point, if your server is running, that the CSS files will recompile. Any errors will appear at this time. (I’m using Jumpstart’s Foreman + processes).

3. Webpacker’s application.js

Finally, in application.js we need to require the ‘video.js’ package’s script. Note the styles use @videojs and the script uses video.js. No idea why it’s different – any clues or wildly inaccurate guesses leave them in the comments.

// Rails functionality
window.Rails = require("@rails/ujs")


Another webpack compile and a browser refresh, if configured. And that’s how to add the VideoJS Yarn package to Rails 6 and webpacker!

Test it!

Here’s a test using a sample m3u8 (hls) stream which is equivalent to any modern live stream after adding the VideoJS package via webpacker.

<video-js controls autoplay preload class="vjs-theme-sea" id="player-id" data-setup='{"liveui": true,"fluid": true}'>
  <source src="" type="application/x-mpegurl">
A screenshot showing VideoJS content playing back with the ‘Sea’ theme

Here’s the sample video loaded alongside some teaser text for my upcoming product. If you’re interested in asset management and a pay per view live streaming platform for sports teams and leagues, sign up to get info!

While you are here

I’ve recently launched social media platforms for my company on both Facebook and LinkedIn. I’d love it if you would like/follow/share the profiles if you can. My focus is heavily on live streaming solutions but as you can tell from my recent blog posts web development is an ongoing part of my business.

My last two articles:

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions drop a comment below, or email me.

blog Code meaningful labor rails ruby

Add automatic URL generation to your Rails App (+ a little about ActiveAdmin)

It’s easy to add a “url” or “slug” field to your rails app, and override the to_param function to report that field. A route can then look for an alphanumeric parameter, like this:

match "pages/:slug" => "purchases#show_by_slug"

But how to generate them without too much manual labour? [manual labour is a good thing, relying on well written gems is sometimes better]

blog Code effective social media ruby

Getting instagram images with OpenGraph

I previously mentioned how simple it would be for Twitter to use OpenGraph to grab images off Instagram to restore the user experience removed when Instagram stopped posting image meta data to twitter.

Code heroku ruby

Find the total number of rows in your Rails app.

Heroku have just introduced a limit on their free database of 10,000 rows. As their robots convert each of their Rails 3 apps to a new database architecture, any database approaching 10,000 rows will send out an email warning the user.

Code learning rails ruby

ActiveAdmin on Heroku (Rails 3.1)

I wrote a post detailing some issues I had with ActiveAdmin and Heroku with Rails 3.1.

It’s probably entirely out of date, but in case its of any use for you, it’s still archived here.

Code ruby

Blog Move 1: Getting WordPress data to Ruby using XML

Step 1 in the “Moving my blog” process is “Extract the current site’s data into a manageable format”

Frankly, that’s easy! WordPress has a functionality to export the site’s content to a single XML file containing all the published Categories, Tags, Posts, Pages and Comments. To do this (WordPress v2.9.2) click Tools > Export and save the file. In previous versions of the software I believe it’s under the Manage menu.

I’m aware I could import the data directly from the WordPress database (to wherever it goes in the end) but let’s imagine we can’t. Anyway, database access would be tediously slow and inefficient to test against and implement.

A quick google for “import wordpress xml ruby” threw up nothing helpful so I turned to the Ruby XML libraries. John Nunemaker “feverishly posts everything he learns” at and has two articles of use here:

The latter deals with three different ruby xml libraries and compares their speed, ease of use and how nice their names are to say. He puts REXML, hpricot and libxml-ruby. I’ll save you the pleasure of reading the article (if you like) and ccv John’s summary:

“Libxml is blisteringly fast, [but] Hpricot has cooler name, REXML and Hpricot both feel easier to use out of the box”

And there you go. Hpricot it is!

Now to get the data into Ruby. After a quick glance at the rubytips article and The RDocs I put together this code as a starting point:

(doc/"wp:category").each do |category|
    cat_name ="wp:category_nicename").innerHTML
    cat_parent ="wp:category_parent").innerHTML

    if cats_hierarchy.include? cat_parent
        cats_hierarchy[cat_parent] = cat_name
        cats_hierarchy[cat_name] = []

cats = cats_hierarchy.to_a.flatten

That gives me two each to use Ruby objects each containing all of my category data: a hash which preserves the hierarchy of the structure and all the names in a linear array.

?> cats = cats_hierarchy.to_a.flatten.uniq
=> ["route66", nil, "rails", "american-2008", "reciprocal-affection", "hope-for-the-future", "code", "blog", "review-blog", "rant", "brands", "projects", "yab_shop", "textpattern", "meaningful-labor", "giants", "accessibility", "root", "charity-project", "apple", "xhtml", "america-2006-route-66", "ruby", "learning", "america-2007", "uncategorized", "iphone", "america-2008"]

?> cats_hierarchy
=> {"route66"=>nil, "rails"=>nil, "american-2008"=>nil, "reciprocal-affection"=>nil, "hope-for-the-future"=>nil, "code"=>nil, "blog"=>"review-blog", "rant"=>nil, "brands"=>nil, "projects"=>nil, "yab_shop"=>nil, "textpattern"=>nil, "meaningful-labor"=>nil, "giants"=>nil, "accessibility"=>nil, "root"=>nil, "charity-project"=>nil, "apple"=>nil, "xhtml"=>nil, "america-2006-route-66"=>nil, "ruby"=>nil, "learning"=>nil, "america-2007"=>nil, "uncategorized"=>nil, "iphone"=>nil, "america-2008"=>nil}

And so we have the starting point to getting this WordPress exported XML data into a Ruby application.

More soon.

heroku ruby

Using another computer for your heroku app

Quite easy, but without knowing how would you know… (the docs!)

The Collaborator Quick Start guide is the place to be.

[sudo] gem install heroku
# then
heroku keys:add
#your login details are taken and ssh key uploaded automatically
git clone -o production
#using the proper git repo name.git

if git push heroku fails then do this:
git remote -v
Hopefully you will see an origin or heroku

If not, find out your git url:
heroku list
heroku info --app your-app-name

git remote add heroku git-url
(this bit from google groups)

learning meaningful labor rails ruby

Simple Thinking Sphinx on Dreamhost

*** Please note – this will probably not work (at all) (for more than a day of light use) without Cron use. And isn’t at all authorised by Dreamhost!! ***

For a recent client project I’ve used a Dreamhost unlimited account, which for value compared with the resources available and the fact that you don’t have to do any building or setting up of the server environment makes it an easy win for a site that’s not going to have a huge amount of traffic or a large amount of processing.

Post-launch I got to work putting together a basic search engine and here’s a quick run through of the steps it took to get a very simple Sphinx instance working on Dreamhost, and a few hurdles thrown in the way by various googled articles.

Development Environment

Using the guide from FG install Sphinx locally:

curl -O
tar zxvf sphinx-0.9.8-rc2.tar.gz
cd sphinx-0.9.8-rc2
sudo make install

then install the TS plugin into your application

script/plugin install git://

Any problems with that, check out the FG page linked.

Getting a basic search going

Following tutorials such as the Sphinx Railscast will get you there pretty quick.

In your searchable model you need to define an index

class Page < ActiveRecord::Base
  define_index do
    indexes :title
    indexes :long
    indexes :short
  end ...

Run the indexer and start the Sphinx instance:

rake thinking_sphinx:index
rake thinking_sphinx:start

After this you'll be able to search on your object. So using script/console

@searched_pages ="query")

will return what you're looking for!

Setting up Dreamhost

First things first you need to install Sphinx in your local area, as posted by Hugh Evans:

cd ~/
mkdir -p local
tar -xzf sphinx-
cd sphinx-
./configure --prefix=$HOME/local/ --exec-prefix=$HOME/local/
make install

then set up the PATHs

echo "export PATH="$PATH:~/local/bin"" >> ~/.bash_profile
source ~/.bash_profile

You can choose to set up a CRON task at this point too, but I'm not going into that.

Also at this point in the there's talk of using Sphinx being anti TOS in DH's eyes... but we'll see does the process get killed or not!

Configuring Sphinx for DH

Create a file called sphinx.yml in the RAILS_ROOT/config/ folder.

Because Dreamhost uses an externally referenced MySQL server instead of localhost you need to set up the sql_* parameters:

  sql_host: "mysql.YOURDOMAIN"
  sql_port: 3306
  sql_user: "USER"
  sql_password: "PASSWORD"
  sql_database: "DATABASE"

And because you installed Sphinx in your local area:

  bin_path: '/home/YOURUSERNAME/local/bin'

Finally, after setting whatever memory/fine tuning settings you wish/require set up the locations for the Sphinx files:

  config_file: "/home/YOURUSERNAME/"
  searchd_log_file: "/home/YOURUSERNAME/"
  query_log_file: "/home/YOURUSERNAME/"
  pid_file: "/home/YOURUSERNAME/"
  searchd_file_path: "/home/YOURUSERNAME/"

That should be you ready to start deploying.


Using Git + Capistrano for deployment (and Passenger for the http server) my deploy.rb's namespace area looks like this:

namespace :deploy do
  task :restart do
    run "touch #{deploy_to}/current/tmp/restart.txt"
  task :start do 
    # nothing  (this avoids the 'spin' script issue)
  desc "Re-establish symlinks"
  task :after_symlink do
    run <<-CMD
      rm -fr #{release_path}/db/sphinx &&
      ln -nfs #{shared_path}/db/sphinx #{release_path}/db/sphinx
  desc "Stop the sphinx server"
  task :stop_sphinx , :roles => :app do
    run "cd #{current_path} && rake thinking_sphinx:stop RAILS_ENV=production"

  desc "Start the sphinx server" 
  task :start_sphinx, :roles => :app do
    run "cd #{current_path} && rake thinking_sphinx:configure RAILS_ENV=production && rake thinking_sphinx:index RAILS_ENV=production && rake thinking_sphinx:start RAILS_ENV=production"

  desc "Restart the sphinx server"
  task :restart_sphinx, :roles => :app do


There's probably a neater way to do this, but basically this makes sure Sphinx's indexes and conf files live in the shared deployment folder.

I recommend you try all this in a staging area first, obviously... and you can use Dreamhost's control panel to set up a staging subdomain with a new database in whatever fashion you prefer.

Any problems with this script flag them up, please! This is as much for my future reference as you googlies out there.

blog meaningful labor rails ruby

Rails / LAMP / WordPress Setup Guide

I’ve had huge amounts of pain getting WordPress set up locally over the last few weeks on my old machine and when it struck again with my new development environment it definitely time to write down the required steps to get a great LAMP/Rails setup prepared (for me)!

Leopard has PHP and Apache fairly up to date, and probably MySQL as well, but I decided to get MySQL up to scratch using the Universal Binary along with a few command line instructions available here (guide and links to downloads).

I didn’t use this script myself, and at a year old it may have a few imperfections, but HiveLogic have a fairly well rounded Ruby/Rails install going on.

Finally, WordPress to go on your LAMP stack will be a lot less painful using this guide for Tech Recipes.

Any suggestions additions or replacements for this list? Drop a comment!

blog meaningful labor rails ruby

Git Pro Tips!

Stumbled across this fella on Twitter today, noticed he worked at Slide (who make successful/annoying Facebook Apps). None the less (I joke) he writes a blog at and has recently been writing a series of ‘ProTips’ on using Git Repos for his work colleagues.

I think it might prove useful: will be taking a read in my spare time.