Learn Ruby on Rails through Screencast Tutorials on GoRails

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In this episode of Running in Production, Chris Oliver goes over how he builds and deploys his screencast tutorial platform called GoRails. The site handles about 2 million page views a year on a single $20 / month DigitalOcean server. GoRails has been up and running since 2014.

There’s a lot of useful nuggets of information in this episode around keeping a pulse on similar communities that you’re in. For example, Chris took a lot of inspiration from Laravel when it came to implementing the billing code for GoRails. Spoiler alert: Rails does scale.

Topics Include

  • 1:42 – Avoiding burn out by having a 2nd project to work on
  • 3:11 – Scratching your own business needs is a healthy way to drive a project
  • 4:13 – GoRails gets 2 million page views a year (~500k unique visitors)
  • 4:36 – Looking at Laravel for inspiration when it comes to batteries included
  • 7:12 – Talking a bit about Bootstrap vs Tailwind CSS
  • 9:47 – Being aware of developer driven vs user driven features
  • 10:24 – GoRails uses server side templates with Turbolinks
  • 13:11 – Using Turbolinks has been good but there are gotchas
  • 14:16 – Flatpickr is a really nice datetime picker with minimal dependencies
  • 14:43 – Websockets and Action Cable aren’t used in GoRails but it is with Hatchbox
  • 17:03 – Introducing just enough JavaScript complexity as needed, but no more
  • 18:54 – Trying to avoid heavy client side JS for performance issues on low end devices
  • 20:09 – GoRails is using Rails 6.x with Webpacker but it’s not using Sidekiq
  • 22:31 – Docker isn’t being used in development or production to keep complexity low
  • 23:40 – PostgreSQL is used as a primary database along with Redis for caching
  • 25:13 – Using the strong migrations gem to help make production migrations less scary
  • 28:23 – Hopefully more advanced database related features make its way into Rails
  • 29:31 – The entire GoRails site is hosted on a single $20 / month DigitalOcean server
  • 30:24 – Making extensive use of multi-level caching helps a lot for performance
  • 31:57 – Passenger is being used as the web server (it’s an nginx module)
  • 34:15 – Let’s Encrypt is still being used on the server for end to end encryption
  • 36:28 – Errbit is being used for catching errors which gets emailed back to him
  • 37:47 – Keeping tracking in house with Ahoy to keep costs down and help against fraud
  • 40:35 – Wistia is used for hosting / streaming videos and it has useful built in metrics
  • 43:04 – Manually transcoding video is hard and expensive (Wistia does the dirty work here)
  • 44:02 – Both Stripe and BrainTree are being used as payment gateways
  • 45:49 – Inspired by Laravel, Chris wrote a Rails Engine called Pay
  • 46:50 – It took 3 months to get payments to work with Stripe’s new SCA APIs
  • 48:12 – Accepting payments went from being simple to outrageously complex
  • 50:24 – You should deal with SCA now in the US to future proof yourself later
  • 52:06 – Even the database is hosted on that single $20 server (2 CPU cores / 4 GB of memory)
  • 52:36 – Honestly the database for GoRails is pretty tiny but it’s heavily backed up
  • 55:39 – Walking through the deployment process from development to production
  • 57:57 – GoRails isn’t using Hatchbox yet, but it will be eventually
  • 58:13 – Upgrading Ubuntu LTS releases gets tricky without a 2nd web server
  • 59:46 – Having a managed database would help with upgrading servers with minimal risk
  • 1:00:41 – There’s a few seconds of down time for each deploy at the moment
  • 1:01:30 – Passenger isn’t just for Ruby apps, it works with Python and Node too
  • 1:02:34 – Everything will come up automatically after a system reboot
  • 1:05:25 – Environment variables are protected with Rails’ encrypted credentials
  • 1:07:39 – Best tips? Things are more changeable than you think, keep it simple initially
  • 1:08:20 – Always keep your master branch deployable with automated tests
  • 1:10:12 – Open sourcing and writing about the tools you’ve built helps everyone
  • 1:13:08 – Chris is on twitter @excid3, also check out GoRails, Hatchbox.io and Jumpstart
📄 References
⚙️ Tech Stack
🛠 Libraries Used

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Jan 06, 2020

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