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Gems using hydra development model

As I said on twitter I think I have a part of me that’s pretty much a masochist, as I’ve had the nice idea of trying out MongoDB for a personal experiment (a webapp to manage clients’ hardware configuration registration, stuff for my usual “day job”), so I started looking into packaging Ruby (and Rails) support for it.

Luckily Rails 3 started abstracting the ORM as well, allowing an almost drop-in replacement of ActiveRecord with a MongoDB adapter instead.. there is a nice guide that actually tells you almost all that is needed in the basic case (of course it could be more automated, but that’s beside the point here). The core of that guide is the mongo_mapper gem which then depends on a thin layer that is further built on top of the driver depending in turn on bson that provides a pure Ruby interface as well as a JRuby version… there is a separate gem for the C-based extension … if your head is spinning or are wondering if I became a linkspammer, I can’t blame you.

The end result is that at the very least I got to package

  • bson
  • mongo
  • plucky
  • mongo_mapper

Not too shabby, but I got in way worse situations before, such as the dependency web of Bones and its extensions. What I didn’t expect was the way these packages are developed rather than packaged.

The gems, as usual, are shallow, and contain no tests, Rakefile, or any other useful files that we need to package them properly as ebuilds. So I had to rely on the GitHub repositories, thankfully we do that mostly transparently in Ruby eclasses (as it’s way too common for us to have to rely on snapshots); unfortunately while for plucky and mongo_mapper the situation was clear (the homepage of the gems points to GitHub, and the two have separate repositories), the situation gets complex for the mongo driver and related gems.

First, let’s ignore the issue with bson and bson_ext (the C-based extension)… that is stuff we would generally can deal with in Gentoo itself (the C extension will be built for all the targets supporting it; JRuby will get its own extension, and all in the same package). The problem is that, after digging through the MongoDB website – finding the list of repositories is definitely not easy – the repository for both mongo and bson (and bson_ext!) is the same … and not in the way that Rails 2.3 was all in the same repositories (with each gem having its own subdirectory), but merging the content of the three gems in the same structure. Saying that it’s messy is not enough.

It is no doubt to me that I’ll handle that just fine at some point in the future, but it really makes me wonder how is it possible for them to consider this a good design and development practice. It’s a mystery. For now I don’t think I’ll spend much more time on this issue as I have other tasks for my job to take care of, which moves this to the back-burner…

And on that topic I’d like to try again an experiment to gauge the interest on packaging these gems; my blog is Flattr enabled – even though lately AdSense on this and Autotools Mythbuster is getting me more money than Flattr – and this post is as well. If you’ve got an account (or feel like opening one), and you’re interested in seeing ebuilds for the Mongo Ruby driver in Gentoo, give a flattr to this post. If I see that count increasing in the next two days I’ll use the Christmas weekend to work on it.

Comments 1
  1. Have you ever unraveled Boost for the purpose of packaging something that depended on it?I remember a similar directory structure with the different Boost libraries scattered across different parts of it.I still haven’t arrived at a good way to download and use just the libraries that I need from that collection…

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