Sending and receiving emails from your Rails apps can be a hassle sometimes. You have to set up queues, pollers, smtp servers and the list goes on. The common answer to this problem is to use GMail smtp servers to send your mail for you.

Taking it a step further is Remail which brings REST to email. This is how the creator Alex MacCaw at LeadThinking.com puts it. But it really gets very simple: To send an email – just send a POST request to your Remail Google App Engine, and To receive an email – Remail will send a POST request to a callback URL. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

If you’re still skeptical just check out the how to guide which shows you just how to get everything running. Basically a remail engine is deployed onto a Google App Engine Project and you then receive and send the emails over a REST interface provided by the Google app and Google handles the email magic from their end.

What’s the downside? Google App Engine only allows 2000 e-mails to be sent per day on free accounts. This should be enough for most small apps. If you really need more you will have to pay but the prices are not outrageous allowing your ruby on rails application to send millions of e-mails per day reliably. This is definitely worth checking out especially with the ability to receive emails as well as send them.

One of the common things we as Rails developers have to implement in commercial web apps is an area for receiving payments. PayPal has become almost a standard acceptable form of payment in the realm of e-commerce. So it would make sense to add this type of functionality to your web application.

For anyone who has ever tried and failed or those looking for an easier way than you may have implemented already check out this tutorial over at Railscasts. It is thorough and gives you clear instructions on how to get the checkout section of your site up and running! Any other ideas on how to add PayPal express to you rails app or any other form of e-commerce feel free to let me know in the comments section.

Lonely Rubyist Seeks User Group
By Brett | 11th Mar, 2010 |

One of the things I find most important for any profession or hobby is being among people who share your passion for the particular subject. I have been faced with the challenge of finding Ruby User Groups in my area but where does one look? I finally came across the answer in an article at RubyInside.com

It describes how to find  Ruby User Groups (RUGS) anywhere in the world. So if you’re like me and looking for a place to share your ideas and have some fun you can have a look at these websites as well as take a look at the full article (which includes maps) to find the RUG closest to you!

RubyMeetup RubyUserGroups.com

Hobo, is an open source web app builder for ruby on rails. Oh wow not another one you say? Well I wouldn’t say that just yet if I were you. Hobo allows for RAPID development of web applications. It has finally reached version 1.0 after being in development for over 3 years.

I have checked Hobo out myself and it really speeds up development and has a lot to offer. To help you get started the Hobo team have released two free ebooks explaining the builder for beginners and then continuing in great detail.

The goal of the Hobo team is to reduce the amount of code you have to write. Face it most web apps have a similar set of basic functionality used over and over so they take advantage of that but at the same time give developers the flexibility we need to create excellent apps.

“It turns out that the hard part is not going fast, but staying flexible. This is where we think Hobo really shines. Of course this approach is common to all frameworks—everything that Rails provides is there because many or all web applications will need it: database connectivity, session management, working with HTTP, etc. etc. The difference with Hobo is that we are trying to take this idea to a much higher level than is normally expected from a web framework. The ultimate goal is: don’t program your application, just declare it.”

I suggest you take a serious and intense look at Hobo. Check out the screencast below by Tom Locke of the Hobo team and even try building a Hobo app in just two minutes

Hobo Screencast – Introduction from Tom Locke on Vimeo.