Of all the new and reimagined code in Rails 3, ActiveModel and ActiveRelation rank amongst what I find the most interesting. I’m excited that they potentially lower the bar to implementing one’s own data layer. If you’ve got some custom backend or datastore, writing a nice API around it has previously been quite the endeavor. To get it working is one thing; to make it as pleasant to use for application programmers is another thing entirely. ActiveModel and ActiveRelation have been extracted from ActiveRecord and make the task of building one’s own model layer far easier.
My presentation for RailsConf 2010 focused on what ActiveModel and ActiveRelation provide and how one can use it to write cleaner code in domain models, how to make your models feel more like ActiveRecord objects, and how to use ActiveRelation to build your own persistence layers.
I hope you find the slides educational. Further, I’ve posted the examples on GitHub so you can play along at home. If you’re particularly interested in ActiveRelation, I hope you’ll find the examples useful as a starting point to using that library.
Over the past year, I’ve been trying to create more stuff, some of which I’d hope to turn out awesome. Largely this is an ongoing sort of thing. I try things, I learn a little, I keep at it. Some things I try work, others don’t. I try to make a habit out of the things that have worked out well. I make a note of things that seem to help me get out of a funk when I’m not making as much as I’d like or having trouble putting in the hours I think are necessary to make cool stuff.
I first distilled these ideas into a talk I did at RubyConf 2009 on having more fun while coding. But I didn’t realize it at the time; I was just sharing some ideas about how to have fun. For me, one of the ways to have more fun is to make more time to have fun. But that’s just the beginning of making more awesome. I found I had to make more time, and develop a bunch of other habits.
For Big Design 2010, I honed the ideas, habits, and tricks I’ve found useful to me into a presentation on how to get off the couch, start making more things, and make some of those things awesome. I hope you’ll find it useful and perhaps start making lots of awesome stuff.