Thursday, 16 August 2007

Ruby, Rails and Netbeans (compared to Catalyst)

In current time I am working on my bike-"startup" site, (in Polish: by-bike org) which promotes using bicycles in Krakow and cities at all. This is a free project, no money just fun and opportunity to learn something new.

For long time I was not sure I should do it in perl/Catalyst, some kind of python framework or Ruby/Rails. From the hosting point of view it should be php but... never mind ;) Because I like python, this simplicity, explicit constructions I was checking python frameworks. Unfortunately Django goes own way of MTV, Turbogears is not so well designed (opinions), Pylons - not so popular to have mature quality of all web-related libs. Inspired by latest billboards ads in the city I chose Rails ;)

What is good about Rails?

- Good documentation. You have few good, printed books: Rails Recipes, Rails Cookbook and of course Agile Web Development with Rails. If you have a problem with something, just google for it or check in book. Howtos on rails/doc are also helpful. The step-in cost is very small compared to eg. Perl/Catalyst even when I code in Perl for 10 years when Ruby is still fresh for me.

- not too deep directory structure. It is simpler compared to Catalyst.

- model (ActiveRecord) is really simple to use. Maybe DBIx::Class is powerful but hard to use for night development (after typical day in work). Or I am just too lazy ;)

- good IDE. Have you ever tried Netbeans 6? There are some issues like hard-to-work-without-mouse, hard to (re)define shortcuts / compared to Kdevelop / but... you have good, free IDE for Ruby and Rails projects!

Now it is very funny to extend Catalyst knowledge based on Rails usage - "there should be something like this in Catalyst", this works also in the opposite direction, because both frameworks are quite similar.

Do you use Catalayst? Or maybe you use Rails? What do you think about them?

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Mysql, convert from latin1-unicode to unicode-unicode

If you have your unicode data stored in a default latin1 mysql data fields, there is a simple way to migrate it to a proper unicode/utf8 coding:

1) change text fields (char/varchar/text) format to BLOB to loose coding info
2) change BLOB to varchar/text setting proper coding.


Description: if you have 2/3-bytes sequences as a one non-ascii character in latin1 field, it means you have unicode (eg. utf8) text there - but for mysql it is still a latin1 string. It can work for some time if you do all your data operations outside database in a programming language and connect to MySQL as a latin1 client. But probably this is not what you would like to have as a long-term solution, e.g. you would like to use SQL for sort/comparisons, any reporting tools so you need to have data properly encoded.
If you do convert directly unicode-in-latin1 to unicode (by single alter table) it would become a 4-byte-mess, as MySQL will take existing utf8 multi-byte sequences as proper latin1 characters. The workaround is to hide coding info for MySQL by going through temporary BLOB step to keep all data untouched.

Be aware: After few several latin1-unicode conversions, I would check in the first step if you do not have a mix of latin1/utf8 coding and perhaps deal with it by conversion in external scripts.