None of us is as smart as all of us.

Short Update: Studio Didacto

A short update on my preparations for the so called Off The Beaten Track Fablab. Although I need more time to work the details out, the idea is to go back to an older (!) and proven concept of me, which I called Studio Didacto and started when I was employed by Atos Origin.

The core of Studio Didacto is to create (a) space and time for learning and experimenting with new technologies, but in the context of an assignment or a challenge from a real customer. With my former employer Studio Didcato was especially meant for people in between two assignments. Now the idea is to use the same concept for interns or trainees with the starting point (or constraint) of sustainable software development with Ruby.

So I’m planning to introduce a new service called (again) Studio Didacto which is meant for customers to help in prototyping, the first iterations of a software project and/or a transition to Ruby.
At the same time Studio Didacto will also partly sponsor one likewise project but in the context of a Fablab. Such a project will be staffed by interns (and/or other volunteers), but will have a broader scope then only software development and (given the local (and of course global) challenges) will need to contribute to a more sustainable live style. Finally a project in this Studio Didacto/Off The Beaten Track Fablab will always be Open Source (off course)!

I think it will not be easy to get this off the ground, but I feel it has a lot of potential and for me most of my beliefs, ideals and qualities come together in a beautiful way …….

Almost a Year, Some Observations.

Some observations and reflections:

  • No Dutch Ruby and Rails conference this year. Maybe we need something different like a RailsCamp.
  • The last four projects I took on were all existing legacy Rails applications with big technical problems.
  • A lot of innovation last year with Passenger and within Rails itself, but Git and Cucumber really increased ‘happiness’ in my work.
  • Losing clients is hard, even if the main issue is ‘just’ money, but you have to draw a line at some point.
  • Winning clients is not easy, some of the proposed contracts and NDA’s I’ve seen were plain silly, but again you have to draw a line ….
  • I think I must be twice as old as the average age of Ruby On Rails developers.
  • I’m considering using CouchDB for my last project.
  • My work in the FabLab communtiy has been minimal last year, but that will change!


With BeloofdisBeloofd (dutch for promises-promises) we created a collective conscience. Every visitor can tell what he or she thinks of a promise made by a politician. With this site we anticipated on the coming national elections on the 22th of November 2007 in the Netherlands. Everybody can post a promise to remind a ‘promisor’ (which can also be a CEO, sportsman, coach, friend, family member or even yourself).


An email monitor for all regional call centres (seventeen) of a large government agency. The application has server side filtering and report generation to make central marketing research possible.


Internet application for “mobile casting on demand” through a sms-gateway.


The project named Scottie researches the possibilities of using information and communication technology to create virtual immediacy between long-stay absentees and their primary social contact group. Agile Dovadi build the communication software, a Ruby based daemon for Arduino micro-controller board and a restfull web application for data acquisition.

iDEAL payment gateway

The Dutch iDEAL payment gateway which is open sourced.

Hyves integration

A Hyves integration for for creating gadgets using the OAuth protocol.


Agile Dovadi is an active sponsor by delivering, hosting and maintaining several internet application (blogs, wiki and forum) for the Dutch Fablab community.


A social network for car owners sharing all their wonderfull pictures.

Planning and invoicing for child day care centers.

Obie Fernandez: The Worst Rails Code You’ve Ever Seen!

Last Tuesday (10th of June) Obie Fernandez gave a presentation on the RubyenRails conference in Amsterdam about The Worst Rails Code
You’ve Ever Seen

To be honest he had some really bad examples, he showed us for example an user controller of 1131 lines (of pure FAIL)!!

But a lot of examples were more in the line of not knowing there is a better alternative in Ruby or a better alternative provided by the Rails framework.

Obie came with an example like this:

class Util
  def hash_values_as_array(hash)
    for key, value in hash
      values << value
    return values

(Of course, you can do the same with hash.values.)

I don’t think this is bad at all and I even think it happened to almost all of us. Most people working with Ruby On Rails were attracted by the power (and the beauty) of the Rails framework and had never worked with Ruby before (and most of the times had no or little experience with web development like myself). For a newbie it takes time to get used to and to find your way and understand the ins and outs of the language and the framework. And sometimes it is more simple or quicker to come up with your own little method like the example above. In fact, it’s a great way (or maybe the way) to learn a new language like Ruby.

The main point of Obie was that you need to learn the fundamentals, read some books and pair with senior people. All true, but it takes time and it’s more difficult for someone starting this year with Rails instead of let’s say 2005.

Rails is becoming a ‘big’ framework and if you know it really well (and keep up with all the new developments) it can make you really productive. But the learning curve is becoming steeper and steeper …….

If I look at available Rails jobs, everybody seems to look for a rails ninja, rock star, kick ass developer, killer rails developer, crazy rails hacker or even an inspiring Ruby god. I think they are difficult to find.

If you want my advise, find a place where they see your learning potential and don’t mind that you make mistakes like the ones Obie is talking about. It is all about learning by doing (and making mistakes along the way).

One more thing, Obie wrote The Rails Way, which is IMHO the best Rails book at this moment. At the end of his presentation Obie announced he is going to write a Rails Antipatterns book. I think this is not the right approach, please write a Rails patterns book, that is much more positive!