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Fernando Guillén

a Freelance Web Developer

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software development as an artistic expression

Archive for the ‘ruby’ Category

Jueves, Julio 26th, 2012

Can we come to an agreement?

There were days where JS, CSS and Ruby programmers where each other sat in different tables and in each table we were using different naming convention and it was not a problem.

Well, times have changed, and now there is not three tables any more, we have put the three tables side by side building an only one web developer table, but we still keep the three different naming convention. Which is very damaging for our flabby brain.

I’m moving my text editor from the CSS file to the JS file and back to the Ruby one, and I have to say that my tab changing is very much faster than my mental change. If naming things wasn’t hard enough now we have to switch continuously between formats.

  • CSS: variable-name (hyphen case?)
  • JS: variableName (lower camel case)
  • Ruby: variable_name (snake case)

And when I start seeing things like this:

    $( ".time-ini" ).html( this.timeIni ) ;

I feel very nervous. So please let’s come to an agreement, what about a non-binding poll for starting:

Let’s move CSS, JS and Ruby naming convention to free polls 

I’ll really would like seeing someone with community authority telling something about this.

Note: I know the variable-name option is not possible in JS neither in Ruby but I keep it in the poll for consistence with the article.

Note2: Also I know that the CSS attributes will remain variable-name style, and there is not much we can do about this.

Lunes, Septiembre 5th, 2011

Work in progress (ode to my pet-projects)


I have been standing aside of new clients and projects for the whole summer, there have been two great reasons for this decision. One: I wanted to enjoy the summer, and two: I needed time for my own projects, or better said: my own projects need time from me.

When I’m working for a client I’m really concentrate on which I’m responsible of. I focus very deep in my client needs and I offer the 100% of me to the project I’m being payed for.

If I want to work on my pet-projects I have to free myself. I have to clean my TODO list and open a clean period, without deadlines or external responsibilities.

My pet-projects periods are very important for me. They are one of the reasons I am very grateful of this skills of me that I have become in a profession.

Spending time working in my pet-projects not only makes me feel fulfilled, it also makes me be a better professional. They feed my passion, and keep me alert, they are very hard exercises those push me to my limits.

So, which are these so important pet-projects?, this is a summarized list of all the ‘on developing‘ projects I’m working on.



“The transparent personal website manager”

The first in the list because is the one where I have placed more energy lately.

Vitreous has been born to revolutionize the personal website and portfolio manager systems environment.

Focused in users with a very minimal web experience, print designers, photographers, writers, any kind of content producers, who wants to have a personal (and customizable) website but feel so lazy to deal with the actual available options.

Vitreous is a transparent personal website management. You have not to login in any where, you have not to upload files using webforms, you just have to copy files into your local hard disk, organize them into folders and Vitreous will do the magic.

We are currently in beta version, we are accepting beta testers and we have already some examples to show.

There have been multiple fights to achieve the actual status of the development. The Dropbox API is not as complete as we would desire, defining a versatile metadata system using files has been a complex work, to offer a secure full access to the templates has needed ingenuity and good programming, implement a solid and reliable stand-alone design render engine has turned indispensable.



“The market place for the independent publishers”

This is the oldest still ‘on development’ project I have in my pocket. I have been working on it for the last three years, not very actively of course.

The independent publishers have a lot of difficulties to reach the final readers, there are multiple reasons for this, the most important is the difficult of the distribution.

BookySitter tries to offer a solution for this, offering a possibility to the independent publisher to create his own online book shop, easy, simple and customizable. With small but useful functionalities especially focused in the small publisher needs like bookshops management.

But this is only one side of BookySitter, in the other side BookySitter wants to be a market place for the independent publications, where any reader interested in books made from the heart and not from the pocket can find a reliable catalog.

So what we have is a multi store system with independent and common catalogs. Full customizable templates. Multi-shopping-cart system.

We are still in a very green development status but we have already a shop in production: escrito a lapiz’s shop

We are also open for beta testers. Any independent publishers who is interested in open an online store can talk with us, we will offer our service and support by free.

The Kids Art Gallery

The Kids Art Gallery

“A gallery that respects and assesses the artistic power that have the most creative creatures on the world”

This is the project closest to my heart.

The Kids Art Gallery is an online multi-gallery for children paintings.

This is a very personal initiative with no any profit purpose underneath.

I want to build an online reference for the producers and the lovers (as I am) of this kind of art. I want to build a pleasant interface to navigate and appreciate in every detail children art sample.

The intention is not only build an online gallery but also a place of understanding and comment this contents, inviting psychologists, fathers and children to comment and write about the works of art.

Currently we are working in the design and the user experience where we have a lot to improve.

In this moment we are accepting new artists so if you know any one please ask me for an invitation code.


“The trade fair stalls manager”

One of the few projects with a very clear business model.

Sitoi is a for rental spaces online manager. Is focused in street markets, trade fairs, parkings, … any situation where there is an space divided in for rental portions.

This project is still in the conceptualize state, but this is the most important part of it. We have defined a very fast, easy and versatile way to publish online spaces for renting.

We are now working in the user interface.


“Data is every where”

When you are not the owner of the data is difficult to follow up and make monitoring of the changes.

ScrapStats allows you to monitor the changes of any data that is accessible for a browser.

With a very simple system based in html scrapping you can register as many data monitors as you need, ScrapStats will take an snap-shot of the data periodically and offer you alerts and charts of the evolution.

We are in alpha status of this project, there is already an operative prototype but we need to improve the user interface.

Space Suckers Chronicles

Space Suckers Chronicles

“You can introduce this space ship where it fits!”

Building a multi-user-text-based-game has been always a murmur in my head. Born as a RMU exercise it is now one of the projects I’m working on.

in S2C you can build space-ships, mines, colonize planets and confront your fleets with the other players ones. Every thing happens in real time, and in a persistent way so even if you are not in front in the computer your fleets and planets are still there living their own lifes.

There is not graphics animation or any other representation of this parallel world rather than the text info you are feeded with.

“It runs on the world’s most powerful graphics chip, imagination.” – Dc. Sheldon Cooper

This project is in alpha version, there is a prototype already working implemented in a three layers infrastructure:

  • The logic
  • The server
  • The client

It is an Open Source initiative.

Now that you know all my ‘on development’ pet-projects you can join me to push any of them that you feel interested in. Just give me a shout and tell me why you are interested and how you can help. Currently my bigger weakness and bottleneck is in the user interfaces development.

Sábado, Marzo 5th, 2011

Coding in Berlin

Ruby Room

Today I have comeback from a five months isolation bubble of coding, partnership and teamwork in Berlin.

When I talked by phone with Markus for first time I didn’t expect how wonderful and grateful was gonna be to become the new member of his team.

I just was looking for a position that allow me to work among an small developer team and I found an excited startup very concerned in find the most talented people, I have spent half of a year surrounded by 60 very interesting and friendly people from more than 22 nationalities.

The multidisciplinary team

One thing SponsorPay has confirmed to me has been that it isn’t possible to success in an Internet entrepreneurship if you only focus in technology. From the 60 people of the Berlin SponsorPay’s team only 7 of us are programmers. The big weight of the business is carried by people attending the needs of our customers and users, people thinking in new business ideas, people measuring what is working and what isn’t, people talking to other people about us, …

Of course every of these departments depends in one way or another in our small techie team, as well as we depend in the plugs to work, is a very common mistake to don’t think even in the existence and the necessity of this people as much as the programmers.

You are very wrong if your think behind a successful website there is just code.


This last five months have been stressful and rewarding very just in the perfect balance. I feel like I have been doing anything else but work but in the same time I feel full and not empty.

In any case my stress feeling has never been produced because an slavery schedule or my bosses pushing me, all the opposite, the schedule is based in objectives and not in hours sitting down on the chair, an the objectives for every sprint are decide by all of us with especial respect for the development team previsions.

Technically the projects we are carrying are not specially complicated, the hard part is that every thing is in continuos movement and everyone in the team has to know and to understand what the others are doing.

We have become in a git warriors.

Another hard side of our technology is that it has to deal with a high work load, with an average of 150 requests/second and maximum peaks of 400 requests/second, we have to move any feet very carefully.

The Ruby table

So this is the situation: we are 7 people dancing together in a very dense and moody multiple choreography carrying cups in our hands under an storm trying to not any drop to touch the floor.

This is why they need good dancers and this is why they can be proud of the dance group the already have.

The European Style

Another thing I have felt in my professional experience in this wonderful city is the respect for the talent.

SponsorPay is a company with less than two years wich has already raised more than 10€ Millions of venture capitals.. And of course is not the only startup based in technology business that is protected this way by investors.

What is this money for? To build a good team, talented professionals. They know to obtain this costs money, they know they need it and they know that to choose a regular worked instead a good professional is never profitable.

Why isn’t this happen in Spain? Because there are not experienced business people carrying startups, so all the startups are carried by, possibly, enthusiastic people who is risking his own money to become an idea in a reality, but, sorry I say this, this is not enough. One of SponsorPay’s cofounders, and actual CEO, left his job as CEO of Telefónica Deutschland to push up an small company that was fighting in a very risky and futuristic business model.

When have you seen this in Spain? Do you imagine this guy taking the decision to change his very comfortable, and profitable, chair to put all his expertise and, even most important, all his contacts to drive a tiny and unknown company of uncertain future born in the hands of a twenty-something entrepreneur?

The summary of these last paragraphs is something that is becoming in a ‘meme’ lately: If you are a good professional and you want to find people that appreciates and respects your value run away from Spain.

So, what have I come back to Spain?, you will be wondering… because this and this. Besides, they have offered me the possibility to telecommute :).


But over all and the most important thing I have build in this Berlin experience has been a few really good new friends.

Lunes, Septiembre 13th, 2010

Vitreous: a Transparent Portfolio Manager

VitriousWhen one friend asked to me for install for her a copy of Indexhibit on my server I was wasting a bunch of mails trying to understand why she wanted this creepy and unusable portfolio manager. One of her arguments was: because one friend told me that it is a ‘transparent portofolio manager’, at this moment I thought: ‘alright so it has to be something that runs on your computer and synchs your portfolio contents from your local hard drive to the online application’.

That was awsome, but this wasn’t what Indexhibit is.

Since this moment I was looking for the moment to develop by my self the kind of ‘transparent portfolio manager’ I was thinking on.

The result is still inside of my fingers but for the moment I have an experimental version ready to work: Vitreous.

Vitreous is a simple Ruby + Sinatra + Dropbox API application that looks on your Dropbox online folder and builds a simple web site with collections and items.

Using simple tricks you can: short the collections and the items, add a description text for each item, configuring home image and description.You can manage your portfolio just creating folders on your local hard disk and adding images to them. Dropbox and Vitreous will do the rest.

The next step is to build a multi user application so you will be able to open a Vitreous Portfolio just introducing your Dropbox Api Credentials on an online form. Multiple portfolios for unique user, template system, auto cache refresh,

…(I am still a few angry with the Dropbox API… I hope they will move forward soon).

Miércoles, Agosto 25th, 2010

Ruby: DummyDropbox, mocking the Dropbox API calls.

Dummy Dropbox

Playing with the Dropbox API for an another experimental pet-project I needed to test how my mini-application was responding to different Dropbox contents. On the beginning I was configuring a real Dropbox account for testing but this was not agile and flexible. So this is because I decided to mock the dropbox ruby gem and this is because DummyDropbox has been born.

The working is simple: you point the gem to a local folder, all the dropbox API calls will think that this local folder is a real Dropbox account.


require 'dummy_dropbox'
DropboxDummy.root_path = "#{File.dirname(__FILE__)}/test/fixtures/dropbox"
session ='key', 'secret')
assert_equal( "#{File.dirname(__FILE__)}/test/fixtures/dropbox/file1.txt" ), '/file1.txt' ) 

Wondering if this could be helpful for someone.

Martes, Agosto 3rd, 2010

Ruby: FibberMailman, mocking the Net::POP3.start




Fibber MailmanLately I’m involved on projects that do a very intensive use of email accounts as input of information.

The use of mail in an automatic process is always a pain in the ass because of the huge casuistic and also for the difficulty to test it.

Nothing we can do with the first problem but for the second one here is my propose of a very simple Ruby Gem to mock the Net::POP3.start petition so you can simulate the emails that a real POP3 petition could find:

FibberMailman the mock for the Net::POP3.start.

Just charge a bunch of raw mails in an strings array and send them to the FibberMailman.lie_to_me method like this:

require 'fibber_mailman'
raw_mails = [ "/fixtures/mail1.raw_mail" ) ), "/fixtures/mail2.raw_mail" ) ),
FibberMailman.lie_to_me( raw_mails ) do
  <your code that uses the Net::POP3.start on any point>

Every petition to the Net::POP3.start method into the inside block will be feed with fake emails built from the raw mail strings.


Martes, Agosto 3rd, 2010

Lightning Talk about the OneOfZombies project

A few months ago I was on Krakow attending to the European Ruby Conference (aka EuRuKo).

There I had the opportunity to talk about one of my unfinished pet project OneOfZombies the Game.

Domingo, Marzo 14th, 2010

Arduino: Phixter Visits, blinking a led each time your website receives a visit

 Arduino I’m in

PhixterVisits is a way to convert an user visit on your web site into a blinking led on your desktop.

I have received for my birthday present one of the most awesome presents a geek can received: an Arduino Workshop Kit.

The first experiment I did was, of course, a Hello World, and after that I build something I was feeling like doing for long time: blink a led when someone visits my website.

This is very useless thing, I know and I don’t care, I just think that when something happens on the web and it become in something real on my table this is kind of magic.

On the beginning was a very simple experiment and withing an afternoon I build an small Sinatra project that received requests with a numerical parameter, the Sinatra webapp sent a signal to an script on my computer through a socket, and my computer finally sent this numerical value to the Arduino that knew with led to blink on depending the value.

This was awesome, I could to hidden an ‘img’ html element on my website asking for an image that in fact was a request to the Sinatra webapp and then the rest worked by it self.

Finally I wanted to play a competition with my girlfriend, she has a very most popular website than mine is, and then I was thinking to do all this stuff much easier to configure so this is because PhixterVisits born.

PhixterVisits is composed for three layers:

Arduino Sketch and Circuit

This is the most simple layer. It is a simple Arduino sketch that opens a Serial connection with your computer waiting for numerical values from 1 to 11, on depending the value received the Arduino will send a signal to one of its digital output connections.

The circuit is also very simple as you can see on the ‘How to Install It’ section.

Local Server

The local server is also very simple but I’ve complicated it becoming what was a simple console script on a wxRuby desktop application so you can configure it and test it visually.

Web Service

Is a Rails application where you can register your self and configure what I call ‘Phixters’. The Phixters are composed by an ‘URL:Port’ address what is your local computer public ip and the port where the Local Server is listening. You configure a value for each Phixter. And finally you can copy a very small piece of html code that you have to paste on whatever place of your website you want.

This piece of html code is the one that hides the Web Service request on an image so when your user visitors are watching an image a signal was sent to the Web Service.

How To Install It

I suppose you have a few experience with Arduino, at less you have obtained to operate the ‘Hello World’ with Arduino.

The Arduino Layer

Download the Arduino Sketch and upload it to your Arduino controller.

Build the circuit as show in this draw.

Phixter Visits Arduino Sketch

On this draw and on all my tests there are only 6 leds but you can fill all the digital outputs with leds and they suppose to work. Put atention that the digital outputs 0 and 1 are not being used, that is because on the circuit there is printed ‘RX’ and ‘TX’ on this out puts and I didn’t want any serial communication interference (I really don’t know if this interference was going to happened).

For test it you can open the ‘Serial Monitor’ of your Arduino app and send numerical values like ‘1′ or ‘2′ or ‘6′, the corresponding leds should blink for while.

Local Server

Download the ‘Local Server’ wxRuby desktop application.

You must to have Ruby installed on your computer and also the ‘wxruby’ gem:

$ sudo gem install wxruby

Go to the directory you have uncompressed the ‘Phixter Visits Local Server’ app and run on console:

$ ruby wx_tcp_server.rb

Yo should see something like on this picture:

Phixter Visits Local Server off

You have to know the name of the USB port of your Arduino and replace the text box named ‘Arduino Serial Port’ with yours one.

Select a port where you want the Local Server listens, for example ‘20000′.

Push ‘listen’.

You should see something like this bellow:

Phixter Visits Local Server

If you want to test it you can push ’stop’ and play with the ‘Send test value’ buttons. If you click on these buttons a corresponding led should blink.

Press ‘listen’ again and let the Local Server listening.

The Web Service

Go to PhixterVisits, register your self and create a Phixter for your web site like this:

Phixter Visits Web Service create Phixter

On URL:Port you have to put the public IP of your computer (or whatever computer your Local Server is listing), the Port is the port you have said to Local Server to listen.

Look that I’m using the ‘’ service so I don’t have to take care of my non-static public IP.

You can create any number of Phixters you want, one of them could be for a different website, just take care you are using the correct ‘code’ of each one.

Very important also is that I’m not going to talk about how to configure the NAT of my home router. This is diferent on each router and is the same theory of ‘opening the ports’ for your emule. Although I’m not talking of this step, this step is very important and the Web Service won’t can talk with your Local Server if this is not well configured.

You can check the communication from your Phixter on the Web Server to your Local Server on your desktop computer by pushing the button ‘check’ as you see bellow:

Phixter Visits Web Service go to check

This will send a signal to the URL:Port configured on this Phixter sending the value indicated, if everything is connected and working a led will blink on your Arduino circuit and a Ok message will appear on the Web Server page.

The HTML code on your Web Site

Still on the Phixter Visits Web Site, go to the ‘code’ of your Phixter:

Phixter Visits Web Service go to code

Copy the code on the textarea:

Phixter Visits Web Service Phixter’s code

And paste it on some place on your web site, be intelligent here and don’t put it on a place that an image is not going to be loaded.

From now on each time your website is loaded this image will want to be loaded and a request will arrive to the Web Service which will send a signal to your Local Server which will send a signal to your Arduino which will make the corresponding led to blink.

What is next

The game now is to connect to the Arduino not leds but DC motors so when a signal arrive the motor will work for a while and then stop until the next signal arrive. The motor will move some kind of figure like a horse or something then the race can start.

Phixter Visits Horse Race

Also will be great not to depend on a computer to communicate with the Web Service, using a ethernet interface directly connected to Arduino could be great.

The Code

All the code of this project, even the the Phixter Visits Web Service is available on the Phixter Visits Github Repository.


Play with this code and instructions on your own risk, I’m a very beginner on all of this Arduino stuff and some problems could happen to your loved kit.


You can do whatever you want with the code, attributions will be grateful.

Creative Commons License

Phixter Visits by Fernando Guillen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Domingo, Septiembre 27th, 2009

Conferencia Rails 2009, just around the corner

 Conferencia Rail 2008

Another year, another conference, the conference that opened my eyes to the amazing word of Ruby, there on 2007, is just tuning the last details.

Conferencia Rails 2009, this year bigger, more impressive, with new venue, bigger organization team, more energy, and asking to the english spoken community  to meet us with talks.

This year I am not being to much helpful on the organization team, I know they are not missing me: a big and strong bunch of people is helping this year with new energy and ideas. I am on the register application support one more year. You can check the code and help sending patches here on the ConfRor2009 github repository.

As more news arrive to me about the Conferencia Rails 2009 more sad I feel, this is because this year I will not can assists to the event, I will be on New York on an weird adventure.

The Call for Papers is almost closed. Be hurry and propose your talk to Conferencia Rails 2009 on the registration app.

Miércoles, Agosto 12th, 2009

OneOfZombies a brutal stupid 2D game

OneOfZombies is an experiment proyect.

Don’t come here looking for game development knowledge or very pretty Ruby code design. This is just me playing with Ruby and with Gosu.

After a few weeks working and studding on my free time I can show you this brutal stupid 2D game.

This is not a quality project, this is not a professional stuff.

I am just enjoying my self and having fun, and by the way I hope you will have fun too!.

The game is very stupid, and the code is very ugly and dirty, I just wanted to test the Gosy library, and I have not experience on game development.

It is the first time I put my self on a pure Ruby project with more of one class. I have had such an experience with Rails and still learning! and I realize that I have got no idea about Ruby.

If you want you can go to the OneOfZombies official site and try to understand what is all of this about. You can also download the Mac OSX version, or the source code, so you will can test it on your own keyboard.

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