April 28th, 2006

Click on the third tree, take a left, and you’ll be at our “webbsite”!

Found In on Highway 243 to Mt. San Jacinto State Park.

We're Movin' to Austin!

April 28th, 2006

Big things are afoot here at Art of Mission, and one of them is that we’re moving our headquarters to Austin, Texas! This move has been in the works for a long time, and we’ve finally worked out many of the details that will enable us to move both our business and our family.

I can hear the collective “gasp” from our friends and clients in Southern California… but fear not – we will continue to provide the same great service to you as we always have. We already have clients halfway on the other side of the country (and world), and we’ve found that it actually works out very well. That’s the miracle of Skype, iChat, and email.

On the personal side, Bethany and I are excited to be moving closer to our family in Austin. We’re really looking forward to being closer to her mom and dad, so this is a wonderful opportunity.

Just in case there are any Texas readers out there, I’ll share what we’ve learned about getting connected in Austin.

Visions of Popup Blockers

April 27th, 2006

There’s this recurring vision that I have of a conversation with a client. In my vision the client and I are discussing the use of popup windows and advertisements on his website. I’m trying to explain that popups won’t work as he expects them to, that most people have popup blockers now, that more often than not they make people mad, and that because of all this the message that is so important gets lost in the noise, and that most visitors will entirely miss the message, which may very well have been an important message.

Then he says to me…

You know what would be great? I’d love it if you could program a big hand that would come out of the user’s computer screen, smack them in the face, and grab their wallet. Then the popup window would close automatically.

The whole point of the web is that people are using the web to seek out information. This is not television, and you do not have a captive audience. Tick them off and they will be gone faster than javascript can open a popup window.

If your message is important, then it should be presented in a way that adds value both to the message and to the site that it’s on. The best way to do this is to arrange your content in a way that makes sense – most important content first, less important content second. Make it easy to find the content that people are looking for. Then make it look nice – this can be done very easily and quickly using CSS, without altering the meaning of the content (as you would using tables and other old-fashioned hacks for layout). The visitor finds what they’re looking for and you can be sure that your message will be received.

Stuff in Nutshells

April 27th, 2006

Lots of things have been coming out in nutshells lately.

First, there was Natalie Jost’s Standards In A Nutshell.

Now Jeremy Voorhis is coming out with Rails in a Nutshell

Loving Natalie’s Standards, looking forward to Jeremy’s Rails.


We have a Dell PowerEdge server for sale on our new shopify store. It’s got a 2.53GHz Intel® Celeron® processor, 512 MB memory, and an 80 GB hard drive. We had been using it for deployment testing, but we no longer need it, so off it goes to another loving owner!

Asking $300 (shipping & tax extra). Jump right to the store page on Shopify

UPDATE: No longer for sale


April 24th, 2006

Cody Lindley has an awesome version of the Lightbox script. But Cody’s script lets you put any kind of content into the popup, and it all works with AJAX – very cool.

ThickBox Example

ThickBox Article on Cody’s site

Apple's Hip to Rails

April 24th, 2006

Check out the Apple Developer Connection Article Using Ruby on Rails for Web Development on Mac OS X.

Here’s the fastest possible way to get PostgreSQL up and running on OS X Tiger (come to think of it, this might be the fastest way to install PSQL period).

Link: PostgreSQL Database Server

An added bonus, the current build installs version 8.1.3, which is compiled as a universal binary and runs natively on Intel Macs.

Typo Plugin: Recently

April 22nd, 2006

Here’s a tiny little plugin that I wrote for Typo called “Recently”. All it does is display the most recently published articles in your sidebar. For a good example, go to Becoming a Midwife.

Download the Recently plugin (gzip)

Download the Recently plugin (zip)


Download the file and unzip it into ./components/plugins/sidebars of your Typo installation. Then restart your Typo server. Log in to your admin area, go to your Sidebar tab, and you should see “Recently” under the Available Items column. Just drag it over to the Active Sidebar Items column, Publish changes, and you’re good to go.

Thanks to CSS Beauty for featuring another one of our sites! Check out the review and comments on Neighborhood Homework House.

And for a before/after look at the Homework House, take a look at their page in our portfolio.

I’ve been asked on occasion, and I’ve read a lot about the question: does Ruby on Rails scale? What happens when you have thousands of users? Can it work in an enterprise environment? There have been several ongoing debates about Rails’ scalibility, notably Cedric’s article Why Ruby on Rails Won’t Become Mainstream, and numerous (sometimes heated) discussions floating around the web.

At this point most people would not consider Rails to be ready for the enterprise market. The arguments pretty much go that Rails is a fad, or that it’s untested, or that it’s not robust enough to handle enterprise-level applications. But I think that you’re going to start seeing the enterprise market changing. As the pace of business increases, companies are no longer going to be satisfied with huge, monolithic software investments. Big companies need to be (and can be) agile too. And that’s where my business case for Rails comes in.

Rails can provide reduced time-to-market for just about any application. In most cases, this translates directly into dollar savings. Importantly, companies using Rails can also rapidly prototype ideas (even very large ones) and get them in front of users faster. That means less time spent in research and development, and more time spent executing effective software. Less time developing means more time in front of users, and more time in front of users means more revenue from the actual product. Revenue good, extended R&D bad.

So I would say that Rails IS Enterprise-ready. Or it will be. Look at the list of application that currently use Rails as their primary architecture:

Granted, most of these are not labeled “enterprise” software. But they are all large-scale programs with lots of users (except maybe CrossConnector, because we just started), and an actual business model. They’ve all had their adventures and misadventures, but all are performing excellently.

Another important point is that “enterprise” does not necessarily have to mean big and complicated. I wonder when the pendulum will begin to swing for enterprise software, as it has for web applications, from big and complicated to focused and simple.

I’m not suggesting that Rails is suitable for every enterprise app. It is fair to say that technologies like J2EE and ASP.net are more proven and tested in the enterprise market. But Rails provides many advantages that should be considered when building an enterprise app.

Resources on Scaling with Ruby on Rails

This is muy bueno. Mooooey bueno.

The Mac mini & Dell monitor combo is awesome for a tight office or small business like ours. I wasn’t sure if the Mac mini would be adequate, but for what I do (writing Ruby and HTML code and playing with Photoshop every now and then), it’s a dream. And it was an awesome value.

Oh, by the way. The little Apple remote thingy is ultra cool. You press the button and your whole computer fades into the background (a really neat effect), replaced by the media center. It’s super fun to play with, but really not that useful. But that’s OK! Because all work and no play makes Ryan a dull boy.

The Winner? Me!

April 13th, 2006

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the Great Race, Dell vs. Apple…

And the winner is?

There's more! Read the rest of this entry

I originally called this article “Dude, Where’s My Dell?”, because I figured that there was no way that Dell would beat Apple. Now I’m not so sure. Here’s the story…

There's more! Read the rest of this entry

Ruby on Rails Mainstream?

April 8th, 2006

Cedric has an interesting article about Why Ruby on Rails Won’t Become Mainstresm. It’s a good, thought-provoking article if you’re interested in the business case for Ruby on Rails. But while I pretty much agree with what Cedric said, I take issue on several points:

There's more! Read the rest of this entry

CrossConnector is Here!

April 4th, 2006

It’s here!

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve launched CrossConnector!

CrossConnector is the easiest way to manage your ministry and publish it online at the same time. It’s perfect for missionaries, churches, and mission agencies.

There's more! Read the rest of this entry