Recently, in the Gift Goat category…

Oh look, it’s a blog. And it hasn’t been updated in over a month. How quaint.

I’m happy to announce two of the things that have kept me busy lately: NegativeArticles and AffirmativeArticles. Depending on your disposition you may prefer one over the other. Or you may find reading both is the closest you can get to a true zen experience.

Our writers at those sites, Joe and Willy, are a couple of, um, characters. I like to tell people we met Willy while we were visiting Tulsa. He came up to us on the street, recognized we were from out-of-town, and offered us money and a place to stay. We found Joe in San Francisco, selling water shoes on the Golden Gate Bridge. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

The sites have been a lot of work to get up and running, but a lot of fun, too. They’re running on Typo, which is built with Ruby on Rails. As a blogging platform, Typo is rapidly becoming one of my favorites. The interface is great. The templating system is just RoR, but it’s real easy to customize, which is all I ask from a templating system. I’ve had some stability issues — I don’t know if that’s because of my host or because I’m running off development code. Things have been better the last couple of days, though, so maybe it was just problems with the server.

Just so you know, I haven’t forgotten about Gift Goat. I’ve just been busy with other things. I still plan to get it working in time to have my family (and anybody else that wants to) beta test it over Christmas.

I’m also working on a site for a local realtor, going to Webmaster Jam next weekend, and planning my next NaNoWriMo.

So… See ya next month!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I enjoy a good bandwagon. So it shouldn’t surprise you in the least that I would be intrigued by Ruby on Rails. Stories of increased productivity, happier programming, and elves that write your code for you while you sleep made me think this might be what I’m looking for.

What? That’s what it said on Wikipedia, so it must be true.

Anyway, I started reading up on it, going through some tutorials, and I really liked what I saw. I love the way that data is just there. Need all of a user’s lists? user.lists has them. Need all the items on a list? list.items has ya covered. Create a table, create a model based on the table, then associate that model with other models, and you get an amazing collection of useful ways to access your data.

I decided to use it to build Gift Goat so I could put RoR through its paces. Tutorials are fun, but to find out if you have the right tool you have to use it on your own project in your own way. I wanted to see if it was something I could use on a regular basis for building the many different web site ideas Angela & I have.

So far, I really like it. Other work has kept me from spending as much time on it as I’d like (I’d hoped for a July 1 launch. That’s looking less and less likely.), but what time I have had has been really productive. It’s amazing how much you can do with just a few lines of code.

As I get more of Gift Goat done I’ll post more about what it’s like working with RoR and what I think its strengths and weaknesses are.

As I alluded to Wednesday, we are getting close to launching the next member of the Smart Goat family: Gift Goat.

Gift Goat is for wish lists — things you want, and things you want to buy other people. I know there are a ton of gift/wish list sites out there. Angela and I have tried most of them and haven’t found one with the set of features we want. So, instead of complaining about it, we’ve decided to do something about it.

We’ve had this idea for a while now, but various client work and other obligations kept getting in the way. It’s just been in the last couple of months that we’ve been able to find enough extra time to get things moving.

I had originally planned to do a closed beta/soft launch sort of thing. I have a list as long as your arm of “Phase 1” features. I’ve decided to just put it out there as soon as I have the basics done. In my opinion, launching a web site is like buying a house: If you wait till you’re ready, you’ll never do it. If it’s out there and people are using it I’ll have no choice but to keep improving it.

I’ll be talking a lot about Gift Goat over the next few weeks — at least until it has its own blog. If it sounds like something you would like to try please head over there and sign up for the announcement list.

Gift Goat

Get ready…