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Controlling how your website appears on social media feeds

When a user shares your content, a snippet with title, image, link and description appears in her timeline. By default social networks will use the window title, the first image, the current URL and some random text snippet for this purpose. This is often not what you want.

Luckily Facebook, Twitter, etc. lets you control how your content appears in the activity streams. They even have agreed on a common format to do this: OpenGraph <meta> tags that go into your HTML's <head>:

<meta property="og:url" content="http://start.makan...
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Write custom RSpec matchers

There are three ways to define your own RSpec matchers, with increasing complexibility and options:

1) Use RSpec::Matchers.define

RSpec::Matchers.define :be_a_multiple_of do |expected|
  match do |actual|
    actual % expected == 0
  end
  
  # optional
  failure_message do |actual|
    "expected that #{actual} would be a multiple of #{expected}"
  end
  
  # optional
  failure_message_when_negated do |actual|
    "expected that #{actual} would not be a multiple of #{expected}"
  end
end

This is automat…

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When upgrading/downgrading RubyGems and Bundler on a server, you must clear bundled gems

On application servers, gems are usually bundled into the project directory, at a location shared across deployments.

This is usually shared/bundle inside your project's root directory, e.g. /var/www/your-project/shared/bundle/.
If you can't find that, take a look at current/.bundle/config and look for BUNDLE_PATH.

When you are changing the version of RubyGems or Bundler on a system where gems are installed this way, you must wipe that bundle directory in addition to the user and system gems or gems that are already ins…

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Webpack(er): A primer

webpack is a very powerful asset bundler written in node.js to bundle (ES6) JavaScript modules, stylesheets, images, and other assets for consumption in browsers.

Webpacker is a wrapper around webpack that handles integration with Rails.

This is a short introduction.

Installation

If you haven't already, you need to install node.js and Yarn.

Then, put

```ruby
gem 'webpacker', '~> 4.x' # check if 4.x is still cu…

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Browsers will not send a referrer when linking from HTTPS to HTTP

  • When your site is on HTTPS and you are linking or redirecting to a HTTP site, the browser will not send a referrer.
  • This means the target site will see your traffic as "direct traffic", i.e. they cannot distinguish such hits from a user who directly typed in the URL.

Reasons for this behavior

It's probably because of this RFC:

Clients SHOULD NOT include a Referer header field in a (non-secure) HTTP request if the referring page was transferr…

Adding Jasmine JavaScript specs to a Webpack(er) project

The goal is to get Jasmine specs running in a Rails project using Webpacker, with the browser based test runner. Should be easily adaptable to a pure Webpack setup.

Image

Step 1: Install Jasmine

yarn add jasmine-core

Step 2: Add two separate packs

Since we do not want to mix Jasmine into our regular Javascript, we will create two additional packs. The first only contains Jasmine and the test runner. The second will contain our normal application code and the specs themselves.

We cannot…

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How to send HTTP requests using cURL

  • Reading a URL via GET:

    curl http://example.com/
    
  • Defining any HTTP method (like POST or PUT):

    curl http://example.com/users/1 -XPUT
    
  • Sending data with a request:

    curl http://example.com/users -d"first_name=Bruce&last_name=Wayne"
    

    If you use -d and do not set an HTTP request method it automatically defaults to POST.

  • Performing basic authentication:

    curl http://user:password@example.com/users/1
    
  • All together now:

    curl http://user:password@example.com/users/1 -XPUT -d"screen_name=batman"
    

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Heads up: Capybara 3's text matchers no longer squish whitespace by default

Until Capybara 2, node finders that accept a text option were able to find nodes based on rendered text, even if it spans over multiple elements in the HTML. Imagine a page that includes this HTML:

<div class='haystack'>
  Hi!
  <br>
  Try to match me.
</div>

Even though the text is separated by a <br> tag in the HTML, it is matched until Capybara 2 which used to "squish" text prior to the comparison.

```ruby
# Capyabara 1 or 2
page.find(…

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no passenger served applications running error when deploying via capistrano

When deploying with capistrano it's possible you get this "error" message:

*** [err :: example.com] There are no Phusion Passenger-served applications running whose paths begin with '/var/www/example.com'.
*** [err :: example.com] 

This is just because there were no running passenger process for this application on the server which could be restarted. It's not a real error. The application process will start if the first request for this app hits the appserver.

The output appears as err because it's printed to stderr.

Dep…

Linked contentDeprecated

Execution of shell code in Ruby scripts

Deprecated ways to execute shell code in Ruby

This is just a reference for legacy code. For new code, always use capture3.

%x{ } or backticks – quick and easy

Returns the standard output of running the given command in a subshell. This is an alias for `…`, and you can use string interpolation.

Example:

name = 'ls'
result = `which #{name}`

It does not escape anything you inject in the string.

If you want to find out if the call was …

Linked contentDeprecated

How to install npm packages globally without sudo on Linux

All quoted.

  1. Set up a package root in your homedir to hold the Node "global" packages:

    $ NPM_PACKAGES="$HOME/.npm-packages"
    $ mkdir -p "$NPM_PACKAGES"
    
  2. Set NPM to use this directory for its global package installs:

    $ echo "prefix = $NPM_PACKAGES" >> ~/.npmrc
    
  3. Configure your PATH and MANPATH to see commands in your $NPM_PACKAGES prefix by adding the following to your .bashrc:

    ```
    # NPM packages in homedir
    NPM_PACKAGES="$HOME/.npm-packages"

    Tell our environment about user-ins…

How to: Migrate from CoffeeScript to ES6

It is quite easy to migrate from CoffeeScript to ES6. You can use decaffeinate to convert your CoffeeScript source to modern JavaScript.

Installation

  • Install the NPM module globally yarn global add decaffeinate
  • Add the following line to your ~/.bashrc to export the Yarn binaries in your Bash
export PATH="$PATH:$(yarn global bin)"
  • Run decaffeinate some.coffee to get the converted modern JavaScript file.

Notes

  • decaffeinate will add some [suggestions](https://gith…
Repeats

Webpack: Automatically generating an icon font from .svg files

Over the years we have tried several solution to have vector icons in our applications. There are many ways to achieve this, from SVGs inlined into the HTML, SVGs inlined in CSS, JavaScript-based solutions, to icon fonts.

Out of all these options, the tried and true icon font seems to have the most advantages, since

  • icon fonts are supported everywhere
  • they perform well and require no JavaScript at all
  • their icons align nicely with text
  • their icons automatically inherit color and size of the surrounding text

The big issue used to b…

Cucumber: Inspecting the Chrome download folder to test file downloads with Selenium

We already have some approaches on how to test file downloads withe selenium. Nonetheless here is another approach, which inspects the Chrome download folder. This way you do not need a separate logic on whether a file is served from a controller or a public path. The DownloadHelpers might also be re-used for reading e.g. a PDF file and checking its content.

Note: The step below will override a [spreewald step](https://gith…

SameSite Cookies

The SameSite cookie attribute was first drafted in 2016. It defines under which circumstances a cookie should be sent to the server, putting cookies into three different classes:

SameSite variants

SameSite=None

Send the cookie whenever a request is made to the cookie domain. A cookie without the SameSite attribute will currently be handled as if it was sent with SameSite=None.

Note: Googl…

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Self-expiring URLs with Apache

When delivering non-public uploaded files (images, documents etc), one has to decide whether and how to do authorization. The usual approaches are:

  • Using send_file with a regular controller. This is secure, but potentially slow, especially for large collections of images.
  • Using unguessable URLs. This is fast (because Apache can deliver assets without going through Rails), but less secure.

When going with the "unguessable URL" approach, it is possible to somewhat increase security by using expiring URLs. The idea is to encode the expi…

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RestClient / Net::HTTP: How to communicate with self-signed or misconfigured HTTPS endpoints

Occasionally, you have to talk to APIs via HTTPS that use a custom certificate or a misconfigured certificate chain (like missing an intermediate certificate).

Using RestClient will then raise RestClient::SSLCertificateNotVerified errors, or when using plain Net::HTTP:

OpenSSL::SSL::SSLError: SSL_connect returned=1 errno=0 state=SSLv3 read server certificate B: certificate verify failed

Here is how to fix that in your application.

Important: Do not disable certificate checks for production. The interwebs are full of people say…

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Tod: A Gem for handling daytime without a date

Tod is a gem for working with daytimes.

Another additional gem?

Thus SQL has a time datatype for storing time of day in the format hh:mm:ss, neither Ruby nor Rails themselves offer an elegant way to deal with day times.

Time and DateTime both handle daytime values AND calendar date, using them to only store the time of day will end in inconsistent and thus confusing data, e. g. Time.new will initialize with the current Time in your Timezone, DateTime.new initializes at January 1, at an undefined year, without a timezone o…

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