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ActionMailer: Preview mails directly in your email client

In rails, we usually have a mailer setup like this:

class MyMailer < ActionMailer::Base

  def newsletter
    mail to: 'receiver@host.tld,
      from: 'sender@host.tld',
      subject: 'My mail'
  end

end

If you want to preview your mail in the browser, you can use the Action Mailer Preview. If you want to inspect your mail directly in your email client, just create an .eml file and open it with your client:

```ruby
mail = MyMailer.newsletter…

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How to create columns like "bigint" or "longtext" in Rails migrations, and what :limit means for column migrations

Rails understands a :limit options when you create columns in a migration. Its meaning depends on the column type, and sometimes the supplied value.

The documentation states that :limit sets the column length to the number of characters for string and text columns, and to the number of bytes for binary and integer columns.

Using it

This is nice since you may want a bigint column to store really long numbers in it. You can just create it by …

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Github Cheat Sheet

All the hidden and not hidden features of Git and GitHub.

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How to search through logs on staging or production environments

We generally use multiple application servers (at least two) and you have to search on all of them if you don't know which one handled the request you are looking for. Capistrano can help you with that by running commands on multiple servers.
Logs usually live in /var/www/<project-environment-name>/shared/log.
You can use grep in this directory to only search the latest logs or zgrep to also search older (already zipped) logs. `zg…

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Updated: Enumerators in Ruby

Examples now use enum_for instead of Enumerator#new.

During deployment: "You are trying to install in deployment mode after changing your Gemfile"

While deploying an Ruby update to an old application these days, we encountered the following misleading error:

*** [err :: some-host.makandra.de] You are trying to install in deployment mode after changing
*** [err :: some-host.makandra.de] your Gemfile. Run `bundle install` elsewhere and add the
*** [err :: some-host.makandra.de] updated Gemfile.lock to version control.
*** [err :: some-host.makandra.de] 
*** [err :: some-host.makandra.de] You have deleted from the Gemfile:
*** [err :: some-host.makandra.de] *

We found out a newe…

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Authorize allowed values with assignable_values

All our projects have enum-like requirements like this:

  • An attribute value must be included in a given set of values.
  • The list of allowed values must be retrievable in order to render <select> boxes.
  • Each value has a humanized label.
  • Sometimes there is a default value.

Most of the time, this requirement is also needed:

  • The list of assignable values depends on the user who is currently signed in.

In our past projects there are many different solutions for these related requirements, e.g. ChoiceTrait, methods like `available_…

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Databases don't order rows unless you tell them so

There is no such thing as a "default order" of rows in database tables.

For instance, when you paginate a result set: When using LIMIT, it is important to use an ORDER BY clause that constrains the result rows into a unique order. Otherwise you will get an unpredictable subset of the query's rows. You might be asking for the tenth through twentieth rows, but tenth through twentieth in what ordering? The ordering is unknown, unless you specified ORDER BY.

In Rails, if you use Record.first or Record.last, it will default to orderin…

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Enumerators in Ruby

Starting with Ruby 1.9, most #each methods can be called without a block, and will return an enumerator. This is what allows you to do things like

['foo', 'bar', 'baz'].each.with_index.collect { |name, index| name * index }
# -> ["", "bar", "bazbaz"]

If you write your own each method, it is useful to follow the same practice, i.e. write a method that

  • calls a given block for all entries
  • returns an enumerator, if no block is given

How to write a canonical each method

To write a metho…

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Imagemagick: Batch resize images

Trick: Do not use convert but mogrify:

mogrify -resize 50% *

This overwrites the original image file.

In contrast, convert writes to a different image file. Here is an example if you need this:

cd /path/to/image/directory
for i in `ls -1 *jpg`; do convert -resize 50% $i "thumb_$i"; done
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How to Work With Time Zones in Rails

With different time zones

When dealing with time zones in Rails, there is one key fact to keep in mind:

Rails has configurable time zones, while
Ruby is always in the server's time zone

Thus, using Ruby's time API will give you wrong results for different time zones.

For consistency, you should only use Rails' methods, but the hard thing is to know which method originates from Ruby and which from Rails. To simplify this, adhere to the following suggestion:

Use Time.zone for everything time-related

```
# Examp…

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How to doubleclick in Selenium

Put the attached file into features/support/.

Example usage:

When /^I open the task named "(.+?)"$/ do |task_name|
  task = page.all('.task').detect do |t|
    t.find('.label').text.downcase == task_name.downcase
  end
  
  task.double_click
end

Note: only Selenium understands doubleclicks.\ Credits: the attached Capybara issue discussion.

Why you can't use timezone codes like "PST" or "BST" for Time objects

Rails' ActiveSupport::TimeWithZone objects have both a timezone code and offset, e.g. Thu, 28 Mar 2019 16:00:00 CET +01:00. Ruby's stdlib TZInfo also has time zones, but with different identifiers.
Unfortunately, not all timezone codes can be used to parse strings or to move time objects into another time zone.

Some timezone codes like CET are supported by ActiveSupport extensions like String#in_time_zone, while many codes will actually not work:

``` » '2019-03-01 12:00'.in_time_zone('PST')
ArgumentError (Invalid Timezone: PST) …

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Custom error pages in Rails 3.2+

Starting with Rails 3.2, there is a nicer way to display custom error pages (i.e. "page not found") that does not interfere with ExceptionNotifier. (I'm not sure about Airbrake et al.)

José Valim has posted this on his blog, here is a slightly more verbose rundown:

  1. Register your own app as the application responsible for showing error pages by adding

    config.exceptions_app = self.routes
    

    to your config/application.rb.

  2. Add rout…

Git: Revert a commit

Reverting a commit means creating a new commit that undoes the old changes.

git revert commit_sha1
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MySQL: Creating many records works faster in a transaction

When you need to insert many records into the same table, a fast way to do it is to have a single INSERT statement describing multiple rows. Unfortunately there is no way to do this through ActiveRecord.

What you can do to save time is to open a transaction and save multiple records within that transaction:

transaction do
  500.times { Model.create! }
end

Although you will still trigger 500 INSERT statements, they will complete considerably faster.

When I trie…

CSS: Flex and "min-width"

min-width is known as a CSS property that can be set to define a least width for an element. Surprisingly, it can also be used to set something that feels like max-width.

min-width in a flex context

While the default min-width value is 0 (zero), for flex items it is auto. This can make block elements take up much more space than desired, even stretching their container beyond the screen edge on small screens.

Image

[…

Using local fonts with Webpack / Webpacker

When we want to use our own (or bought) fonts in an application with Webpack(er), we have two options. We can

  • put the fonts directly into your Webpack's assets folder or
  • write an npm package with an own sass file that can be imported from the Webpack manifest.

Load fonts from your assets folder

The first option turns out to be straightforward: Import the stylesheets in the index.js of the pack you're using:

```javascript
// webpack_source_path/application/index.js

import './stylesheets/reset'
import…

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