Musings on programming, design, and business.

TIL: Pass in an ActiveRecord Object to a where string

I’m surprised I didn’t already know this, but if you have an ActiveRecord where statement that references an id column, you can just pass in an object and it will pass in the object’s id, not the string representation of the object.

company = Company.find(1)

User.where("users.company_id = ?", company)
# is equal to
User.where("users.company_id = ?",

So when you create named scopes, you don’t have to do the song-and-dance where you check to see if the object is a model or an integer, as shown below.

scope :by_company, lambda { |company|


Lookup IP Address & Location via the Command Line

With, you can lookup your external IP Address and Location Information using a simple curl command. You can use it like so:

$ curl
  "ip": "",
  "ip_decimal": 1612409628,
  "country": "United States",
  "country_iso": "US",
  "city": "Columbus",
  "hostname": ""

$ curl

$ curl
United States

Website Revamp! And introduction to my Work Journal.

My website has gone slightly stagnent lately, so I decided that it was time for a revamp. There were a few things I didn’t like about the old website:

  • As a developer with some design chops, I never liked the fact that I hadn’t designed my website myself. I was using the Hyde theme for Jekyll.
  • I felt boxed in by the fact that all my previous posts were longer-form articles.
  • While Jekyll is a great tool, it’s very blogging-centric, and I wanted to add new types of content.

So I re-designed the website from scratch using Middleman. I started with Thoughtbot...


Run your Ruby tests quickly and easily using Vim and Tmux

In order for testing to become part of your development workflow, it needs to become a habit. And like any habit, its biggest enemy is neglect. Too often I’ll be in a rush and not add tests to my code for a day, and that turns into a week and then a month, and suddenly I have an app where half of my codebase is untested and the other half has breaking tests. There are many things you can do to help keep this habit (hooking up a CI server immediately comes to mind), but an important one is to make running your tests as quick and easy as possible.

One way I do this is by making my ruby tests (either Rspec or Minitest) extremely easy to run while I’m using Vim (and Tmux). With one quick keystroke, I can run the current test file or individual test in a new Tmux pane.


Authentication with JSON Web Tokens using Rails and React / Flux

In a previous post, I went over how to add authentication to your Rails + Angular app using JSON Web Tokens (JWT). This time, I’ll do the same, but using the React ecosystem. But even if you’re using another front-end framework (Angular, Ember, Backbone), this post will be helpful because it fixes some issues with the previous server-side code that broke due to a change in the jwt gem.


How to Replace the Angular Stack with React plus a few NPM modules

As you can tell from the content of my blog posts, I’ve been practicing and preaching Angular.js for quite some time now. It is an extremely productive web framework that felt like a big step forward from my days doing jQuery “sprinkles” and then Backbone.

But then recently, I started playing with Facebook’s React framework. And while I’m still not quite as productive as I was with Angular, I absolutely love the code that I’m writing. And on top of that, it has opened my eyes to a whole new paradigm for creating user interfaces.


Authorization with Angular.js and UI-Router

While working on an angular.js application recently, I found myself needing some form of authorization logic (not to be confused with authentication / login). I needed to restrict content in my app based on a user’s role as well as some other factors. At first, I created a single AuthService service that dealt with login, authorization, and session management. But this felt messy and violated the Single Responsibility Principle, so I decided to make something cleaner. My goal was for the API to look something like this:


Building your Angular app with Gulp.js

As my work has transitioned from traditional web apps to thick-client Javascript apps (primarily using Angular), Grunt has become essential in my workflow. Grunt is a nice tool and it gets the job done. But there was always something I didn’t like about it that I couldn’t quite articulate until I discovered Gulp.js. Whereas in Grunt, you create a json configuration file, Gulp is just a script. It’s code. And it really fits my programmer brain better. In this post, I’ll convert a basic Gruntfile that compiles and minifies Coffeescript into Gulp.


Pre-Filling PDF Form Templates in Ruby-on-Rails with PDFtk

In a recent post, I talked about how to generate PDF reports in Rails using Prawn. This approach is great for generating PDF’s with lots of data tables and other variable-length content. But an alternative situation is when you already have a template authored in an application such as Adobe Acrobat and you want to populate it with data from your database. This makes it more difficult to insert variable-length content, but on the plus side, you no longer need to worry about the layout of the document.