At Blue Mango Learning Systems we primarily develop two applications:
- ScreenSteps Desktop Software: This is developed for Mac and PC. Trevor handles all of this and uses Runtime Revolution as his development environment.
- ScreenSteps Live: This is our hosted compliment to ScreenSteps Desktop. It is all coded in Ruby on Rails and I handle all of the work on that side.
Distributing a product for Mac, PC and running a hosted web service is a lot of work, especially when there are only two people in your company. Therefore we have had to choose our development tools very carefully. For us, the most important aspect of any development tool is our ability to quickly iterate over a product until we feel that we have it "right". Really, for us, all other considerations fall way behind. If we can't iterate efficiently then we are going to move on to another tool.
Ruby on Rails has proven to be a great tool for this type of development. There are a lot of people getting into Ruby on Rails so I thought some of you might be interested in my experience. I think that ScreenSteps Live is an interesting case study in the benefits and drawbacks of Rails, so over the next couple of months I will be posting some of the things that I have learned as I have dived into the Rails world.
First, a little background on myself as a programmer and ScreenSteps Live as a web app.
ScreenSteps Live Struggles to Come To Life
I have no background as a programmer. Well, almost none. We first got the idea for ScreenSteps Live back in late 2006 or early 2007. At that time I had never even attempted to program a web application. I knew some basic html, enough to throw up a web page, and enough php to do some basic includes. But nothing beyond that. I also had programmed some smaller desktop apps with Revolution but only after extensive help from Trevor.
But we needed a web app. Trevor wasn't going to have time to do it so we decided to outsource. I won't go into all of the details on this but our first attempt didn't work out so well. Suffice it to say that after 2 months we had nothing and were out a few thousand dollars. All I can say is be very meticulous in checking out the people you are hiring to develop your stuff. We weren't and it came back to bite us in the form of lost time and lost money.