Shawna C. Scott

Learning to hack, one day at a time

Menu Close

Tag: ruby

Testing best practices

One of the things I struggle with the most is not how to implement functionality, but instead how to create functionality that will conform to best practices. By the nature of being new, that spidey-sense isn’t yet completely developed, so I’m always excited to find new tools to help train that part of my brain.

Today, I found Better Specs, an Rspec best practices guide, and you can bet I will have it close at hand for quite a while!

On Tumblr

Properly Factored MVC in Rails Applications

EDIT: After feedback from Katrina Owen Herself, I wanted to include the “much improved” version of the tutorial, as well as Katrina’s amazing five-part series on Golden Master testing


Recently, I wanted to learn more about refactoring, and about general best practices for structuring Rails code. Generally, when I’m working on a feature, I don’t spend the majority of my time figuring out how to make something work. I spend most of my time trying to find the best way to make it work.

As a new programmer, though, I have to rely on external resources, since I don’t yet have that internal lexicon of good and bad design patterns to point me in the right direction. So, this past weekend, I decided that I wanted to learn more about Rails best practices, and about refactoring. Imagine my delight when I found this great workshop and accompanying tutorial, “Properly Factored MVC”  [tutorial] (see edit) from RailsConf 2013, presented by Katrina Owen and Jeff Casimir.

I finished the video, although I haven’t worked all the way through all the tutorial iterations yet, and I’ve already learned a lot about the theory of refactoring, and how to insure your refactoring doesn’t cause regressions.

If the 1:43 runtime of the video is daunting, you can just work through things from the tutorial alone. Personally, though, I found the video helpful, since Katrina Owens is talking through her thought process as she goes in more detail.

Hope you find this resource helpful!

PS: If you feel inspired to help refactor some Real Live Code ™ after this, feel free to hop on over to the very beginner-friendly open source project, Calagator. I’m a contributor there, and there’s plenty of places to test and expand your skills!

On Tumblr:

New Job, and Junior Dev Lessons

I haven’t announced it here until now, but recently I was hired at a startup called:



We make a data logger that connects to our cloud aggregation service. We’re doing everything from making custom boards to embedded programming to data cleaning, all with a web-based Rails GUI on top. I’m three weeks in, and absolutely loving both the work and my coworkers!

Currently, I’m working on the Rails app, so I’m using Ruby daily, which is awesome. And because our software team is small and the app is young, I’m living the dream of helping to establish code conventions and working mostly on greenfield problems. And when I’m not feeling like working on Rails for a bit, there’s plenty of room for me to learn more anything about embedded programming and hardware.

Here’s where I work:

Why yes, that is an arctic exploration pod. Why do you ask?

I’ve blogged about code here before, and will continue to on occasion, but I often put off blogging because I feel like I don’t have something ‘big enough’ to say. Simultaneously, I’ve been feeling the need to catalog some of the things I’ve learned, and some of the silly things I’ve done, in the hopes that my pain can help someone else avoid headaches in the future.

So, I’ve decided to launch a Tumblr specifically for small snippets and quick tips that junior devs may find helpful. Tumblr just feels like a more natural place for something intended to be short form. Junior Dev Lessons posts will crosspost here, on their own page. If you want to follow those tips on Tumblr, you can go to

If you want to share junior dev lessons you’ve learned the hard way, contact me and I’ll post them, too! Maybe we’ll save some other junior devs some headaches along the way.