dingus problems

This weekend I decided to takle both learning Ruby and working with AWS
via the Ruby API. Having only played with both of these in the past,
this presents two learning challenges at once. However, from past
projects, this is how I learn best. I am somewhat familiar with AWS
terms and once made a script in Python to fire up an instance. This was
before Amazon came out with their management console, so I imagine
things have come a long way since then (hopefully easier). I also played
with Ruby for a while, but didn't have a decent project for it. Having a
project with goals will hopefully keep me on track and give me a way to
measure my progress.

My goals for this project are as follows:

  1. Utilize a web based interface. Using rails seems to be the popular
    way to do this, and I'd like to base my template interface off of
    boilerstrap5, a combination of twitter-bootstrap and
    html5boilerplate. This will probably have the most trial and error
    to get it right.
  2. Connect to the AWS api and pull some basic information such as my
    account name.
  3. Fetch details about an AMI image. Maybe I'll be able to parse a list
    of public images, or maybe I can just punch in an image ID and pull
    up the details.
  4. Start an instance from an AMI image. This might require some steps
    like setting up a an S3 bucket -- we'll see.
  5. List my running instances.
  6. Control a running instance - ie, power cycle it.
  7. Destroy an instance.
  8. BONUS: Do something similar with S3 buckets - create, list, destroy.

First off, I need to setup a ruby development environment. Since I have
used PyCharm in the past, I will try JetBrain's RubyMine for my
editor environment. After installing this, the first thing I learned is
that rails is not installed. I could install using apt-get, but
Jetbrains recommends using [RVM]. It looks like a nice way to manage
different versions of Ruby, rails, and gems. I know when I have
installed Ruby applications requiring gems, gem versions was always a
source of concern. It is very easy to get mismatched gem versions in the

RVM install locally to ~/.rvm on linux, which is nice - you don't mess
up any system wide ruby installations and keep everything local to your
development environment. After installation, I had to figure out a
couple bits with rvm.

  • rvm install 1.9.2 # installs ruby 1.9.2
  • rvm list # lists versions of ruby installed
  • rvm use 1.8.7 # use ruby 1.8.7

First, your terminal has to be setup as a login shell. This tripped me
up for a while until I changed the settings in my terminal emulator.
terminator has this as checkmark option.

ytjohn@freshdesk:~$ rvm list

rvm rubies

   ruby-1.8.7-p371 [ x86_64 ]
   ruby-1.9.2-p320 [ x86_64 ]

# => - current
# =* - current && default
#  * - default

ytjohn@freshdesk:~$ rvm use 1.8.7

RVM is not a function, selecting rubies with 'rvm use ...' will not work.

You need to change your terminal emulator preferences to allow login shell.
Sometimes it is required to use `/bin/bash --login` as the command.
Please visit https://rvm.io/integration/gnome-terminal/ for a example.

After switching to login

ytjohn@freshdesk:~$ rvm use 1.8.7
Using /home/ytjohn/.rvm/gems/ruby-1.8.7-p371

Finally, once you get ruby and rails working, you can create your rails
project. I'm starting with a rails project because it's "all the rage"
and gives you a decent running start. Later, I'll work on switching the
supplied templates with boilerplate + bootstrap based ones.

This gets me started. Next up, I'll actually create the project from
within RubyMine and just work on basic web functionality.


Bootstrap and CDNs

Often when creating a "modern" web page, it's very common to find yourself reinventing the wheel over and over again. I know any time I wanted to create a two-column layout, I would have to look at previous works of mine or search the Internet for a decent example. However, I recently came across Twitter's Bootstrap framework. At it's core, it's just a css file that divide your web page into a 12-column "grid". You create a "row" div, and inside that row you place your "span*" columns. Each span element spans from 1 to 12 columns, and should always add up to 12 for each row. You can also offset columns. There are css classes for large displays (1200px or higher), normal/default displays (980px), and smaller displays such as tablets (768px) or phones (480px). Elements can be made visible or hidden based on the device acessing the site (phone, tablet, or desktop). There is also a javascript component you can use for making the page more interactive.

If you download bootstrap, you get a collection of files to choose from. There's js/bootstrap.js, img/glyphicons-halflings.png, img/glyphicons-halflings-white.png, css/bootstrap.css, css/bootstrap-responsive.css. There is also a compress .min. version of the javascript and css files. You can read further about the responsive version of the css, or how to use the icons.

Normally, one would take these downloaded files and put them into their own web application directory tree. However, there is a better way. Unless you are planning to use this on an Intranet with limited Internet access, you can use a copy of these files hosted on a "content delivery network (CDN)". A good example of this is the jQuery library hosted on Google's CDN. Google has a number of hosted libraries on their network. This has several advantages, one of which being caching. If everyone is pointing at a common hosted library, that library gets cached on the end-user's machine instead of being reloaded on every site that uses that library.

While bootstrap is not hosted on google, there is another CDN running on CloudFlare called cdnjs that provides a lot of the "less popular" frameworks, including bootstrap. Here are the URLs to the most current version of bootstrap files (they have version 2.0.0 through 2.1.1 currently).

  • http://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/css/bootstrap.css
  • http://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/css/bootstrap.min.css
  • http://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/css/bootstrap-responsive.css
  • http://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/css/bootstrap-responsive.min.css
  • http://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/bootstrap.js
  • http://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/bootstrap.min.css
  • http://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/img/glyphicons-halflings-white.png
  • http://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/img/glyphicons-halflings.png

All one has to do in order to use these is to add the css and the javascript (optional) to their page. Since most CDNs support both http and https, you can leave the protocol identifier out.

<link rel="stylesheet" href="//cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/css/bootstrap.min.css">
<script src="//cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/bootstrap.min.js">
<script src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.8.3/jquery.min.js"></script>

Here's an example you can use on your own.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">

<div class="container-fluid">
        <div class="row-fluid">
         <div class="span12 label label-info">

        <div class="row-fluid">
         <div class="span2">
                left column
                <i class="icon-arrow-left"></i>
         <div class="span6">

                <p>center column

                <i class="icon-tasks"></i></p>

                <div class="hero-unit">
                 <h1>This is hero unit</h1>
                 <p>It is pretty emphasized</p>

                <p>still in the center, but not so heroic</p>

         <div class="span4">
                right column
                <i class="icon-arrow-right"></i>
</div><!-- end container -->

<!-- load everything at end for fast content loading -->
<link rel="stylesheet" href="//cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/css/bootstrap.min.css">
<script src="//cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/bootstrap.min.js">
<script src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.8.3/jquery.min.js"></script>

Finally, I found that NetDNA also hosts bootstrap on their CDN at [www.bootstrapcdn.com]. I would say that either CDN would be fairly reliable, as they are both sponsored by their CDN they are running on. One advantage of this site is that they provide a lot more than just the basic bootstrap hosting such as custom themes and fonts.

To use them, you can simply swap out your css and js scripts.

<link href="//netdna.bootstrapcdn.com/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/css/bootstrap-combined.min.css" rel="stylesheet">
<script src="//netdna.bootstrapcdn.com/twitter-bootstrap/2.1.1/js/bootstrap.min.js"></script>
<script src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.8.3/jquery.min.js"></script>

UPDATE: I added jquery into the above examples because several parts of bootstrap rely on it (such as the Modal dialogs).