Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Utilizing Ruby and Linux

I've recently been working on a site that aggregates a large amount of data. The data is made available at arbitrary times and delivered via xml feeds over the web. I needed to check for new content at timed intervals and I needed a mechanism for delivering a large amount of data quickly.

The first problem was easily solved by writing a ruby script that checks all the sources for new content and setting up cron to run the script every 15 minutes.

Making large amounts of data quickly available was solved by using Rails page caching, but the first request was still taking about a minute to serve. That issue was also easily solved by sending a curl request after each time the cache is swept.

One of the reasons that I love working with Ruby/Rails* is that not only do I have all the tools Ruby provides, but I also have easy access to the tools available on linux.

Next time someone asks me why I like Ruby more than other languages, I'll have to remember to add this to the list of reasons.

*Most languages give access to the underlying OS, but I find Ruby's access to Linux to be more pleasurable than other experiences in my past.

2 comments:

  1. George Malamidis2:24 PM

    Hey Jay,

    Despite it doesn't do justice to what the post illustrates, could you have achieved the same by using open-uri decoupling your implementation from the OS specific curl?

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  2. raggi1:13 AM

    Linux, or GNU?

    This 'principle' applies heavily to Ruby on all platforms in general. Ruby makes it trivial to manage external processes and apps. It should probably be noted too, that most of the other interpreted languages provide similarly easy syntax for doing the same.

    Ruby is a fantastic cross-platform scripting language, suitable for building full scale apps. I think the usefulness you're experiencing largely comes from the scripting-language nature of Ruby, rather than some tie in with GNU software stacks (which there isn't, of course).

    I especially think this as I use the same stacks, and others, on several other operating systems.

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