Sunday, January 20, 2008

Picture of mine used on

A picture that I took in Montreal in August 2007 and posted on Flickr has been selected to be used by the online guide for their Montreal city guide! Check it out at Click Bonsecours Market, and cycle through the pictures on the right to find mine.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New version of Ruby In Steel without Visual Studio license

The folks at SapphireSteel Software have released a new version of Ruby In Steel, called Text Edition, that doesn't require you to already have a Visual Studio license, and it's only $49 at this time!

For those who don't know about it, Ruby In Steel is a full Ruby and Rails development platform for Windows with real time debugging (breakpoints, mousing over and typing variables to see their values), syntax error detection, color coding, indenting, and anything else that you'd want in a full featured IDE. Check my previous blog entry, Ruby In Steel, Ruby on Rails add on for Visual Studio, for a better description. Previously, Ruby In Steel was an add on for Microsoft Visual Studio, you already had to have a Visual Studio license for this to work.

This new version comes with a free version of Visual Studio 2008 that it uses behind the scenes, but you can only do Ruby and Rails development with it. They still sell the Visual Studio add on. The main differences are that the add on version has a faster debugger, and uses the Intellisense libraries that show possible values for objects and attempts to highlight incorrect syntax. If you already have Visual Studio, I'd still recommend the regular version, but if the price is too much the Text edition will still work great. The Intellisense in the full version still doesn't work too well with Rails code (but what can you expect since it's not strongly typed), but it does work pretty well for strict Ruby code. But if you don't have Visual Studio, the Text edition provides a very powerful full featured Ruby and Rails IDE for a great price, I would highly recommend it! You can get it at

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Exception_notification plugin for automated exception emailing

I found a really useful plugin called exception_notification that I've been using on my servers for several months now. It will send emails to addresses that you configure any time an exception is generated on your server, if the server is in production mode. The email contains the full details of the exception, including the call stack. It's almost as useful as the error page that gets displayed for exceptions in development mode.

The plugin has helped me discover and fix a whole bunch of obscure errors that I never would have discovered on my own or through users complaining.

This may not be appropriate for a server where you have a large volume of users. You probably wouldn't want to get thousands of emails of the exact same error a day especially if it's a bug that you already know about. But it works great for servers with a low volume of users, or for internal test servers. For a test server, your testers won't need to record the details of the error and send it to you separately, it will automatically be sent to you!

To get started, run
script/plugin install exception_notification

Then edit your config/environment.rb file to include the following line, specifying the email addresses to send exceptions to:
ExceptionNotifier.exception_recipients = %w(

Another useful option you can add to environment.rb specifies who the sender of the exception should appear as:
ExceptionNotifier.sender_address = "\"App Error\" <>"

Then add this to your application controller if you want all actions in your application to generate exception emails.
class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base
include ExceptionNotifiable 

You can also include this only on the controllers that you want to generate exception emails.

The full source for this is at Read the README file there for more detailed information on configuring it.