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.


Rails Table Doesn’t exist!? Yes it does!

It’s happened to me twice in the last couple of weeks, and this time I knew exactly what I’d done, so here’s the solution if you make the same bad and non-“Rails Way” mistake I did.

dave@infinity:~/$ rake RAILS_ENV=production db:schema:load
(in /apps/special)
rake aborted!

Mysql::Error: Table 'special_production.pages' doesn't exist: SHOW FIELDS FROM `pages`

(See full trace by running task with --trace)

In my routes.rb file I had specified a route as such:
# map.connect 'special-day', :controller => 'pages', :action=>'show',
:id=>Page.find_by_title("Special Day").id

DON’T DO THIS. Not sure in what way it struck me as an overly good idea, but just don’t.
Strip that route out of your code and if necessary replace it as such:

# map.connect 'special-day', :controller => 'pages', :action=>'special-day'

What threw me about this problem is that I thought there was an issue in my schema.rb or migrations, this isn’t the case: ‘rake’ is trying to load the environment and falls over because ‘Pages’ hasn’t got going yet.

Don’t forget when you’re finished you may need to re-setup and migrate (cap deploy:setup / cap deploy:migrations) before your site will go.

P.S. This (silliness) never went into production!

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!


Smashing on Rails

I’ve been working with Rails now for about 2-3 years on and off, for the last two months almost full time working on a project that I’m not talking about yet.
Via the great bunch of fellas at I came across this article from Smashing Magazine on Rails which provides a great overview on a couple of things which I have picked up along the way and thought WOW that’s useful. They’re all here in one place.

Check out: Smashing Magazine: Ruby on Rails Tips

There’s a nice plug for Contrast’s current-big-thing web app: GetExceptional.

learning meaningful labor rails

Ruby Uninitialized Constant Error (Mental Note)

The reason I always get initialized constant errors occurring in Ruby is accidentally naming models the plural form of the database table name and not letting Rails automatically create the pluralisations.

script/generate scaffold contact_skill contact_id:integer skill_id:integer description:string
script/generate scaffold contact_skills ...

(This reason is one I constantly forget, and Google never helps me. Now I will not forget)


edit: I’ve had a LOAD of google hits from this search query in the last few days, if this helps you or doesn’t please leave a comment to make this article more complete.