Sunday, April 22, 2007

I'm jumping on the ruby train, running on rails

When I started developing LearnIt I had really great skills in HTML (at least, that is what I thought). Yay! Now I can make web sites. Then I found that to make something like LearnIt I would need to learn how to use some kind of database. So I read and read and messed and messed, and before long I could use MySQL and PHP to some extent.

Before long, I realized that LearnIt would need one-to-many relationships. Instead of figuring out how to do that with MySQL, I decided I needed to put XML files in my MySQL rows to achieve the relationship. After much toil, I did it. Through that experience I learned quite a bit about XML and XSL (neat). But before long somebody pointed out my ignorance and told me that I didn't need to use XML. I could do it all in MySQL! Oh boy. After I changed the whole LearnIt system to use MySQL only, I thought I was done. Then I discovered this cool technique called AJAX. A few weeks later, LearnIt was AJAX enabled, Scriptaculous effects and all. It had been about a year since I started and I had learned a lot. It was at this point when me and my dad discovered that our business model wasn't very good.

Back to the drawing board. If you are wondering, yes I had previously read Jesse James Garret's The Elements of User Experience and nodded my head in agreement with the chart. So much for that.

So now, with a more solid business plan and a clearer development path, I can have a fresh start. While developing the first versions of LearnIt and following the AJAX craze I ran into plenty of articles raving about Ruby on Rails. For the longest time I couldn't wrap my head around what it was and I didn't try to. But it came time to decide what tools I was going to use to develop this new, fresh version of LearnIt. So I seriously checked it out. I messed. And now I am using it to develop LearnIt. So far, it's been great.