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The New Ruby Inside: I’ve Gone All Daring Fireball On You

By Peter Cooper / June 9, 2010

Tonight, Ruby Inside has changed for the better. If you're reading on the Web, it will be immediately apparent, but if you're reading via the feed, check out RubyInside.com. Ruby Inside is no longer a magazine-style blog - it's a Daring Fireball-style tumblelog.

Why?

If you've been following Ruby Inside for a year or more, you might have noticed a severe slowdown in posts here over the last several months. This was down to a combination of being busy working on my startup, coder.io, and, frankly, being a bit burnt out writing posts every day for Ruby Inside. Posts have gradually slowed down to between 1 and 3 each week.

When I looked into why people read Ruby Inside, it turned out it wasn't to read a Ruby "magazine" or long, in-depth articles. Instead, people said they trusted my "nose" for good Ruby news and wanted me to share all the latest cool Ruby stuff I've found, along with a little insight.

A long-time fan of tumblelogs as a reader, I recently realized I could both increase the velocity of Ruby Inside posts, point to more interesting stuff, and generally improve the quality of the site by turning it into a tumblelog. Instead of having to write a 300/400 word summary of every thing I wanted to post about, a tumblelog gives me the ability to just "throw out" a link with a few lines of commentary. John Gruber of Daring Fireball does the same with Apple related news, and he has millions of readers each month!

So, Ruby Inside is now a tumblelog. There will be occasional longer posts, but most posts will be links, quotes, and short bits of insight on all of the latest stuff going on in the Ruby world. If I think most Ruby developers would benefit from knowing something, it'll go straight on here, rather than sit in my To Do pile for weeks. I hope to pick up the posting level from once or twice each week to a few times each day.

What?

The latest changes affect all readers. If you're reading Ruby Inside via the feed, you'll continue to get posts as usual, but any "link" posts will link directly to the third party site and not to the Ruby Inside post - making your life easier.

If you read Ruby Inside primarily on the Web, you have a whole new format to get used to. Since tumblelogs are very common now, though, I imagine you'll consider it an improvement. Full post contents can now be read on the front page, so you don't need to keep clicking around. Less bullshit, higher quality, etc. You will also note there's a new events listing on the left hand side of every page - it's powered by Keavy McMinn's RubyThere Ruby events listing site.

People using iPads should also enjoy the changes. The new design was tested on an iPad all the way through the process and it looks great on there!

So?

So, what do you think? I considered disabling comments on Ruby Inside in true tumblelog style, but.. I enjoy them too much and they're usually useful to read. Leave a comment on RubyInside.com against this post with your thoughts, suggestions, or otherwise, about the new design and direction I'm pointing Ruby Inside in.

Comments

  1. RJ says:

    I got to admit I use Ruby Digest (aggregator site) to look at Ruby News http://rubydigest.vinsol.com/ which is what leads me to Ruby/Rails Inside when I see something interesting.

  2. Peter Cooper says:

    Cool, though it only covers a few sources. coder.io's Ruby tag is more complete if a higher level view is useful.

  3. Pete Nicholls says:

    Much better. The previous design was a bit of a mess; article/page space ratio was a fraction of what it should have been. The tumblog format fits the content better as well. Good choices.

    I don't know if there are many others like me, but I read Ruby Inside primarily through my feed reader. The only thing that will differentiate your blog against the countless others I read there is the quality of the content: the writing and the subject matter. Keep at least one of those strong and I'll keep reading.

  4. Wayne says:

    I clicked through to the post from my reader, and was instantly impressed. Great look, great layout, great idea.

    Then, I clicked back to the homepage, and my first reaction was "oh no". The extra 50 pixels lost due to padding inside the colored box, makes the post seem claustrophobic somehow. The nice white, open look found on the post page is not there. Give the home page the same style as the post page, and kill the background colors, and you've got a winner.

  5. Peter Cooper says:

    Wayne: I think you're right. I've been playing with that quite a bit.. I've made the default for "full" posts to be full column with regular background. However, I still want the ability to "highlight" important or distinctive posts, so I'm keeping that around. This post, for example, is still in blue, though none of the others are.

  6. Emmanuel Oga says:

    I Agree with Wayne. I prefer a little more wide content for a one column page. Narrow columns do not look very nice on a 1650 pixels wide screen. Other than that, the design and new format looks good (except perhaps for that red stripe on the left margin...)

  7. Peter Cooper says:

    Emmanuel: Oh come on, there needs to be a /little/ bit of flair here so it's not just a big pile of white ;-)

  8. Wayne says:

    That's better. Now that you've ditched the yellow background, the blue post (aka this one) feels like it should have a "sponsored by" tag on it. Although, with your last tweet about inline advertising, maybe that's coming too?

    And, fwiw, if that *is* coming, I wouldn't mind, as long as it's clearly marked as such. Daring fireball's sponsorship posts are probably the most effective advertising on the web for me.

  9. JS says:

    I personally think it's a true change for the worse. I very much enjoyed the former layout and look of the site. Ah well, time for an adjustment. :)

  10. Peter Cooper says:

    @Wayne: Ruby Inside has had quite a bit of "sponsored footer" type advertising in the past. Not so much lately. My tweet wasn't really referring to my own activities, more a cynical "end game" for advertising on the Web where stories are effectively payola. That is not on the cards for Ruby Inside!

    Regarding marking the post as sponsored by.. no, no, it's just to differentiate the post from other things ;-)

  11. Rohit Arondekar says:

    Looking good! But can I make a suggestion? The red bar on the left hand side is kind of distracting, it would be better to have it fixed on the top. Great work otherwise! :)

  12. Reader says:

    New design is a major step back. It's bland and the long scrolling is mega annoying. Chaulk it up to experimentation and resuscitate the last design. Oh, and you're better than Gruber - don't stoop to his level with a trendy "tumblelog".

  13. Peter Cooper says:

    @JS @Reader: At the end of the day, the biggest effect on the quality of the site is how often I post to it. Without this reworking of the format, I suspect you'd have seen a bland "barely enough" string of one or two posts a week until the blog collapsed to its death. Even if you're not keen on the new format, hopefully you can appreciate that this way, I can at least get back to doing what I do best: finding and pointing people towards interesting Ruby related stuff.

    If, however, you're more keen on "long format" content, I will be pointing to some great articles over the coming months, and there are also sites like InfoQ who are doing a good job with that sort of content.

  14. Peter Cooper says:

    @Reader: Also, I'm sorry that you're finding the scrolling a drag (pun intended!). In a recent redesign over at "A VC", there was a discussion over whether blogs with short summaries and "Read more" links on the front page OR full post contents on the front page were better. The full content with extra scrolling was overwhelmingly more popular.

    Of course, what works better can be different to what people prefer and I will certainly be taking everything into account, both opinion and measurements of what people do.

  15. Peter Cooper says:

    BTW, I've found an old (but slightly broken) screenshot of the first design Ruby Inside had back in 2006. It was vaguely similar to this.. at least in its sparseness and the thinner column. Of course, 2006 was not 2010 ;-)

    Ruby Inside: Daily Ruby tips, news, code and frivolity

  16. Daniel Tenner says:

    Sounds like a great plan! Looking forward to reading the Daring Rubyball!

  17. Trans says:

    I like the idea of it. I think the format could be a tad better though. I don't like the sidebar being on the left. I prefer it right. I think the main font is a size too big. And yes, the red stripe is a bit of an eye sore.

  18. Peter Cooper says:

    Thanks for the insights so far folks.

    I find that things people don't like about a design (including me!) tend to fade away into non-issues over time, as long as those elements don't impede usage. That's my stance on the red bar. HOWEVER.. if anyone has any particular ideas as to how it could be replaced/changed but still retain a little originality and pizazz about the site, I'm all ears. I just feel if I remove it then, well, this could look like just any other plain site.

  19. Andrew Grimm says:

    I also find the column a bit narrow.

  20. Peter Cooper says:

    I had a suspicion but I had to confirm it.. the column now is basically the same as it was before, ignoring the space lost to the "drop out" image on the old design:

    I think there must be a psychological aspect at play that makes it "feel" thinner now due to the increased whitespace.

    But that's just the front page. On the inner page the current layout is thinner. About 580 pixels wide for content versus the old 645px. However, considering Ruby Inside isn't going to run longer articles and walkthrough type stuff, the horizontal space is no longer necessary and the readability standards of 65-75 characters per line are more closely achieved.

  21. Peter Cooper says:

    I note that the larger text may also be leading to a sense of less space, as demonstrated in the to-scale screenshot above.

  22. Peter Cooper says:

    All that said, though, for some reason I'm finding these comments to be far nicer to read now.. look a lot cleaner than before. I think that blue fadey thing I was doing on the old design detracted from it a lot.

  23. CodeOfficer says:

    I've always loved your content, great work Peter :)

    The excess whitespace/increased font size of this design isn't my taste exactly, but I'm much less a fan of this particular shade of red. Its almost blinding on the white background.

  24. Peter Cooper says:

    @CodeOfficer: Thanks. Primarily in regards to the "stripe", post titles, or.. everything? It is certainly a little.. "tartier" than the previous slightly darker red, but there may be some leeway as I tweak things.

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