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Top Ruby Blogger of 2008 – John Nunemaker

By Peter Cooper / December 21, 2008


Note: This post is a part of Ruby Inside’s Top 10 in 2008 series. To learn more or see the other awards, read this introductory post.

John Nunemaker - Consistently Good Ruby Blogging in 2008!


Rather than unethically considering ourselves or one of our sister blogs (!!), we set out to look for the best independent Ruby blogger of 2008. It wasn't a hard search. While there are a lot of good blogs out there, few have been as consistently good as John Nunemaker's RailsTips. John (@jnunemaker on Twitter) is always looking out for new things and ways to make life simpler for Ruby and Rails developers, and while many have fallen back to just putting code on Github or Twittering in 2008, John has consistently blogged about his new projects and those of others.

Aside from RailsTips, John is a Indiana resident and is a partner at Ordered List, Inc - a Web application development agency who were responsible for Slicehost's new site. He also keeps a random tumblelog and does non-Ruby blogging at Addicted To New. You might be familiar with his HTTParty and HappyMapper libraries.

Mini Interview

We caught up with John for a short interview to find out what he's been up to in 2008 and what he has planned for the coming year..

Ruby Inside: How and when did you get into Ruby?

John Nunemaker: I first dabbled in Ruby (due to Rails) on July 23rd, 2005 (see and and have worked full time in it since August 2006. I get paid to do Rails, but I spend my free time writing plain old Ruby.

How have your Ruby & Rails related projects gone in 2008? Surprises? Successes? Failures?

Most of my projects are Rails and they have gone great.

The first half of the year I was the lead developer for the University of Notre Dame's Web Group. Most of what we did in the web group was create administration areas for websites that allowed clients (staff and faculty) to easily update the content. I finally got tired of re-creating very similar admin areas, so I built a multi-site enabled website management system from scratch in Rails. It now serves over 30 sites for the University, with several more added each month, and around a million pageviews (according to Google Analytics) from two smallish virtual servers.

The third quarter of the year I spent a lot of time working on an application named DealerFlow, a web 2.0 management platform for auto dealers. The part of the application I spent the most time on was a calendar system written mostly in JavaScript that interfaced with a Rails back end using JSON. The app also includes real time chat using ejabberd and a host of other hot features. Rails flexibility with JSON made this project a pleasure.

What plans / outlook / projects do you have for 2009?

My outlook for 2009 is busy! I really want to get a product or two out on the interwebs, so when I'm not consulting or blogging, I'll be working primarily on the two apps I am about to mention below.

At Ordered List, we have begun building Harmony, a website management system, that is going to be sweet. We've blogged about it a bit. The tool I created at Notre Dame, that I mentioned above, is the University's property, so I'm starting all over again. I have seen the benefits of a good website management system first hand and I know it will be worth all the time and effort. We are hoping to have something for people to get their hands on in Q2. Another project I've been working on is a killer analytics application for bloggers. It is highly top secret right now (code named statsinmypants) and that is all I can divulge. :)

What do you think other Rubyists should be learning about or checking out in the new year?

I think jabber has huge potential and everyone seems pretty stoked about it. We actually just started another jabber project for a client this week. I can really see jabber exploding in 2009, as more people document online how they are using it to do crazy stuff.

Most of my projects on the side involve web services. They may not be anything new, but web services are only going to become more and more prevalent, so I would really recommend people start learning how to create and consume APIs. Along the web services line, people should also look into micro apps and web hooks.

Have any Rubyists had a big impact on your work in 2008?

A lot of rubyists made an impact on me in 2008. I would say it was by far the year that I have learned the most in my short web career. If I had to give props to a few in 2008, it would be Geoffrey Grosenbach and the two Ryans (Bates and Daigle). I think you can really learn a lot from a screencast and Geoff and Ryan B. both do top notch work. I think Daigle is easily overlooked, as his what's new in edge rails has been around for a while, but he consistently posts new Rails features and gives great examples on how to use them.

Thanks John!

Projects and Links


  1. Jerry Richardson says:

    Way to go, John. You've always been our favorite Ruby blogger. From: Your sb.rb friends...

  2. Geoffrey Grosenbach says:

    Two thumbs up!

    And thanks for the props, John!

  3. SoftMind says:

    Congratulations John.

  4. Ryan Bates says:

    Congratulations John! I'm surprised there wasn't mention of the screencasts you've done this year in addition to your excellent blog posts. Keep it up.

  5. John Nunemaker says:

    Thanks everyone! I will most assuredly keep it up. :)

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