RailsConf – Microsoft Territory

After lunch I went to a talk by Sean O’Halpin called “RoR against the Machine”. It turned out to be not quite what I expected, but it was interesting nonetheless.

The talk was essentially about the setup in Sean’s current company, where they are using Rails as part of their backroom business processes – which could be seen as typical Microsoft territory, and works quite differently to the average public web application.

Tasks for the system were to do with importing sets of data which might come in in a variety of different formats, and similarly exporting reports on their data in a variety of formats. To achieve this they had a mixed environment with Linux (Ubuntu) and Windows 2003 servers. The user would upload files through the Rails server, and then data processing tasks were placed on a job queue. Jobs from the queue might be processed on Windows or Linux backend servers, depending on the format involved.

Sean talked about the various tools he thought were important for their setup, most of which I have encountered. He was particularly enthusiastic on the subject of VMWare and virtual servers, which sound like they would be worth trying out.

Other interesting tools he mentioned were Unix ODBC for connecting to SQL Server; reliable-msg for Ruby; and RubyCLR.

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