Why I stopped inheriting from ruby’s core Array class

Inheritance is considered bad practice for quite some time now (Gamma, Helm, Johnson & Vlissides, 1994). Little did I know when I started the ‘workbook’-project in 2012 (note that I don’t have a computer science background).

The main reason I wrote this workbook-gem was that I wanted the most predictable API for working with spreadsheet data (acting as arrays of arrays), not having to use a different API when reading XLSX or CSV files, nor when writing it.

After learning that inheritance is not always a good thing, I still often thought of a workbook as an array of arrays and hence an exception to the rule. But then I came accross a helpful post by Avdi Grimm: [Why you shouldn’t inherit from Ruby’s core classes (an…

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Rails CMS-systems

An article, posted almost 3 years ago filed in rails, cms & gem.

When developing full stack webapplications, I typically use Rails. While Rails is the perfect system to create CMS'es, for sites that are less applications and more websites CMS-gems for Rails may help.

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JavaScript & Rails: a `webpacker` evaluation

An article, posted more than 3 years ago filed in javascript, ruby, rails, ruby on rails, programming, es2015, coffeescript, gem & assets.

Webpacker is still opt-in for new Rails projects. But this might change. The JavaScript ecosystem is moving fast and new JavaScript frameworks are pushing customer’s expectations to higher levels. To use these frameworks with your Rails app, you had a few options:

  • Include the JavaScript manually; which requires you to manually copy the files in place
  • Use a gem-wrapper to to install the JavaScript library; but this required quite some maintenance on the Gem-author’s side.
  • Try to mangle npm or yarn into the asset pipeline yourself
  • Use Rails Assets (an automagic Gem-wrapper)

A small praise for Rails Assets

I have been using rails-assets.org the past few years to keep my JavaScript dependencies up to date. It thought it was smart solution; instead of requiring individual developers to maintain Gem-wrappers, Gem wrappers are created on the fly by RailsAssets.org. It was smart and light weight on the developers side and worked perfectly with the Rails' Asset p…

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Eat your own dogfood

An article, posted about 4 years ago filed in social_linker, gem, ruby, ruby on rails & update.

Just a small note that I've made some improvements to my SocialLinker-gem lately and while I've been using it on a few sites already, I wasn't using it on my very own blog. Today I found some time to change exactly that: you've got to eat your own dog food. If you want to have a taste of it: murb/social_linker (if you're a ruby-dev) or just click the share icons below :)

Image CC-licensed BY: Sh4rp_i

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An article, posted almost 5 years ago filed in ruby, rubygem, gem, social_linker, rails, rubygems by murb, share, privacy, google+, facebook, google & twitter.

I had a few projects that I thought could use some share 'buttons', but I didn't like to include the JavaScript loaded and privacy invading share buttons that the networks try to sell you by default. Neither did I like to concatenate the links with all variables required for each project… so I wrote a small rubygem on a back and forth train trip (#ilovetrains ;)): social_linker.

The idea is that you share something about a certain subject, hence you initalize the SocialLinker::Subject and then you'll be able to generate share links from it:


How it works

Initialize the subject with enough material to generate links from, such as the page's url, maybe the media url (mainly for Pinterest type-shares), a description, tags etc.

For example, initialize the SocialLinker::Subject as follows:

social_linker_subject = SocialLinker::Subject...

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Mijn werk: “AxlBase”.

An article, posted about 5 years ago filed in ruby on rails, gem, mijn werk, portfolio, ING, zelfstandig, zzp & excel.

LinkedIn confronteerde me onlangs nog met het feit: murb bestaat alweer 6 jaar. Een goed moment om verder te gaan met terugblikken op de opdrachten van weleer.

De belangrijkste opdrachtgever in mijn beginjaren was de ING bank. Een belangrijk product dat ik in de begintijd aldaar heb gebouwd is een database op basis van Excel-bestanden (iets dat ik ooit nog wil(de) uitrollen als 'AxlBase'). Zoals ik eerder al schreef, soms moet je een bestaande werkwijze omarmen. Wat is het precies en van waaruit is het ontstaan?

Wat is het?

Een database op basis van Excel-bestanden. Niet echt in technische zin (achterliggend is het een traditionele database), maar wel in de praktische zin. Excel is hét bestandsformaat van de gewone kantoormedewerker voor gestructureerde data. Het wordt veelvuldig gebruikt in allerlei projecten. AxlBase is in staat verschillende Excel-bestanden per o.a….

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The `workbook`-gem

An article, posted about 5 years ago filed in workbook, gem, ruby & rails.

workbook is simple ruby framework for containing spreadsheet like data in a datastructure that is known to most programmers: the (multidimensional) Array.


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Mijn werk: Concordia weekoverzicht

An article, posted about 5 years ago filed in kijkwijzer, rubygems, gem, ruby, rails, ruby on rails, web, ontwikkeling, portfolio, svg & mijn werk.

murb bestaat inmiddels een aantal jaar, daarom lijkt het me leuk om de komende blogposts een aantal mooie resultaten te delen. Als eerste in de rij: Het Concordia Weekoverzicht.

Wat is het?

Concordia, een culturele instelling in Enschede, brengt iedere week een weekoverzicht op A5-formaat uit. De weekoverzicht tool die ik voor hen heb gebouwd maakt het mogelijk deze zonder veel moeite wekelijks uit te draaien.

Het probleem

Tot zomer 2015 was het maken van het weekoverzicht een repetitieve handmatige invuloefening met dure en ingewikkelde Adobe software, terwijl de meeste gegevens keurig waren opgeslagen in hun ticketsysteem en de kijkwijzer-database. Het voordeel van de Adobe-pakketten was weliswaar oneindige mogelijkheden qua opmaak, maar in de praktijk was het eindproduct telkens vrijwel hetzelfde. Ondertussen koste het handmatig opmaken dus relatief veel tijd en kunde.

De oplossing

Het volledig automatisch genereren van e…

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KeywordFinder gem released

An article, posted more than 5 years ago filed in opensource, gem, ruby & rubygems by murb.

For a project I'm working on, I decided to develop some functionality in a separate gem, so the project doesn't get cluttered too much with special librarly like classes. And since I like open source, I've got something to share with you.

We were dealing with the following situation:

Given a set of the following keywords: "aardappelen", "zachtkokende aardappelen", "zout", "schimmelkaas", "kaas", "oude harde kaas", "kikkererwten", "maïs", "bruine bonen", "shiitake", "boter"

Can you recognize:

"een grote pan zachtkokende aardappelen met een snufje zout"=>["zachtkokende aardappelen", "zout"],
"schimmelkaas" => ["schimmelkaas"],
"(schimmel)kaas" => ["schimmelkaas"],
"old amsterdam (maar een andere oude harde kaas kan natuurlijk ook)" => ["oude harde kaas"],
"g (verse) shiitake in bitesize stukjes gesneden" => ["shiitake"],
"pot hak bonenmix (kikkererwten maïs kidney en bruine bonen) afgespoeld en uitgelekt" => ["kikkerwerwten", "maïs", "bruine bo...

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Rails and elasticsearch for beginners - follow up

An article, posted more than 5 years ago filed in elasticsearch, rails, search, linux, server, development, ruby, gem, tech & programming.

In a previous post I described how simple integrating elasticsearch is with Rails for beginners. You could've been happy with the fact that you now have implemented full text search, but that too basic set up probably doesn't work that much better than adding a column to your model, throwing in all text in it and running a LIKE query (although elasticsearch does try to rearrange the results a bit).

In this post I will learn you two things that makes elasticsearch worth it.


Analyzers add some fuzziness to your searches. First, make sure your analyzer is in the right language, this will improve your results. You add the following bit to your model (I typically place it just below where the scopes and validation are defined).

settings index: { number_of_shards: 1 } do

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Rails and elasticsearch for beginners

An article, posted more than 5 years ago filed in elasticsearch, rails, search, linux, server, development, ruby, gem, tech & programming.

I don't like complexity. Adding new items to your stack increases complexity. But sometimes it is worth it. When you need proper search and filtering, elasticsearch is worth it. Mostly because it isn't hard to set up at all, as you'll learn in this post.

Installing it on a Debian server is easy, simply follow their instructions (you'll add their package-server, and run apt-get install. On OS-X you can install it easily with HomeBrew (brew install elasticsearch), but do make sure you have installed a JDK (e.g. openjdk-8-jre-headless)

If you're not using something like Docker, you probably have to repeat the steps on your dev machine, your staging server and your production environment.

Note: When running on a low memory server, which isn't recommended for production, you should make sure that the configured heap size isn't too high, edit `/et…

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Introducing Workbook, a new rubygem

An article, posted more than 8 years ago filed in programming, template, ruby, gem, openoffice, table, export, microsoft, excel, spreadsheet, file, csv, Calc, rubygems, workbook, import, styling, diff & rubygems by murb.

Sorry non-techies, this is really for (ruby-)techies.

For some time I've been working on a ruby gem that helps me on my project work, and may also help other ruby programmers, to work with table imports and exports more easily. Although there are other gems that allow you to read and write to different formats, of which the roo-gem is probably the most well know, I was particularly interested in writing Excel files based on templates.

I wanted to offer my clients more user-friendly Excel files that used some of the more advanced functionality of modern Spreadsheets (AutoFilter, printer styles) that couldn’t be offered by just manipulating styles and formatting using the existing rubygems. Which got me started to think about creating templates to start from, instead of starting from scratch using one of the Gems. Using another Excel file, however, wasn’t as easy as expected and here is where the Workbook gem comes in: to make that easier. Ad…

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Introducing Web Page Archiver (new ruby gem)

An article, posted almost 9 years ago filed in html, website, ruby, gem, archive, web page archiver, base64, data uri, mhtml, mime html & rubygems by murb.

To the ruby-folks (ruby is a programming language). Just a quick note to inform you that I've coded a new ruby gem:

> Web page archiver is a gem for creating web page archives: single files that contain images, Javascript, CSS, and the actual HTML. Of course you may zip these files, but there is hardly any support for opening and viewing such files without first requiring the user to extract the files before viewing. The solution offered in this gem is either MHTML or HTML with no external references. MHTML (or MIME HTML) is the default archive format for Internet Explorer and Opera, and can also be read in these browsers. HTML with no external references is not written by any browser as a standard archive format (that I know of) but can be read by any browser, as long as it has support for the Data URI-scheme (all modern browsers, although size limits apply to IE8).

More on the Web Page Archiver github page.

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