Does anybody here want to build something? My buddy Jimmy of This Blog fame laid an idea on me the other night. He’s a teacher, and a fairly progressive, observant one at that. I believe him when he says that there’s nothing out there like this kinda simple, cool idea that he had. I think it must exist somewhere but it’s not being properly promoted if it does. So, I thought maybe it’d be a cool idea to try and teach him a little something about web development, and teach myself a lot in the process. There’s no way that this idea of his is currently within my grasp since a big part of the concept is an iOS app, but I don’t think the overall idea is really that far outside the realm of possibility. It’s going to need a web backend to it, anyway. So let’s see. Where to start?

I think we’ll build it in Rails since I’ve learned enough about programming to know that I prefer Ruby as a language to PHP. I think this idea could easily be done in Drupal (a large, flexible content management system that’s built in PHP) as well, but for some reason the aesthetic of building the solution you need and no more is really appealing to me. Drupal takes care of a LOT of the stuff that we’re going to need to do upfront, things like user authentication (accounts) and interacting with a variety of different protocols - essential if the app phase is ever going to work. Drupal and Rails are both just pieces of software that run databases for you, but the difference is sorta like the difference between buying a really good loaf of bread and baking a really good loaf of bread. It doesn’t make you any less of a chef to serve the store bought loaf to your guests, but if you have the time and you know how to bake a good loaf (or if it’s just something you want to get good at), you’re going to prefer that route.

Step one is getting Rails installed on your computer which, if you bought a Mac is made significantly easier. We’ll do that next.