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Site Rebuild: Please advice about the best course of action

RoR Refinery HTML

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#1 dmoore3



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Posted 16 August 2013 - 09:24 AM

I'm looking for advice on using RoR to deploy my site, guess this is a place where RoR experts dwell.

My (bilingual) static HTML website has become too large and hard to maintain and to implement new features, so I'd like to explore RoR framework to make it dynamic, however, not sure about the way to go. Sould it be built from scratch using RoR or using a Ruby based CMS like Refinery for instance?

What would it be the easiest, fastest and less costly option for this?

The "new" site will be deployed using responsive design, CSS 3 and HTML 5 - apt to just about any screen size - so I wouldn't need to maintain a mobile version as well. Already have the graphic design part done, now it's time to think about the way to implement it.
I need to be able to produce partial as well as global changes with the click of a button and to leave room for growth and new implementations on the same basis. This includes to add more languages, add a directory, modify pages by group or single ones, to change right hand columns, headers, footers,etc.

I would assume that RoR can handle this and much more.

All advice and suggestions in this regard will be much appreciated.

Thank you

#2 james



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Posted 16 August 2013 - 12:25 PM

Rails will certainly meet your needs.


My opinion:-

Write it from scratch


1) Taking into account that you already have a very clear idea on how your site should behave and your graphic design nailed so you will not have to struggle with making that fit with an existing CMS plugin/gem.


2) In addition to the above I have a lot of complicated reasons for suggesting this approach over using a gem or plugin but mainly because you will have complete control, you will know and understand your app far better and the learning curve will stand you in good stead for developing future sites and adding further enhancements.


As far as keeping your site up to date I HAVE to recommend the standard deployment route of using capistrano in conjunction with a git repository.

It's not a one click install it's a one line of code on the command line process (after you have commited your files to your git repo).


This approach allows you to automatically update your database, work on multiple enhancements at the sae time without having to send them all live when you need to issue a quick bugfix update by making use iof git branches.


This is a complex topic and there are many PAAS services out there that will do tdeployments for you but... well... just but.... They just aren't as flexible as capstrano. (I'm sure Adam will have something to say about that!)


You will need to find a good resource that'll help you get up to speed with RoR really quickly. I can highly recommend the aswesome Railscasts for researching specific requirements http://railscasts.com/


Pretty much all RoR developers bible is AWDWR (http://pragprog.com/...nt-with-rails-4)


There are a huge number of other resources out there which I'm sure others will point out.


You have a huge learning curve ahead of you but it's well worth the effort.


Good luck and welcome to the forum

Edited by james, 16 August 2013 - 01:51 PM.

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Programming is just about problem solving!

#3 Mr. Puddin

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 11:13 PM

For other sites for learning ruby/rails check this: http://iwanttolearnruby.com/

#4 Roderick



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Posted 17 August 2013 - 02:43 AM

I'm on that "huge learning curve" but enjoying every minute of it.


BrowserCMS is written in Ruby/Rails and is customizable. You can use your own theme. You can create your own content type. I'm not sure about the languages though.

#5 dmoore3



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Posted 17 August 2013 - 11:23 AM

Good morning!

First of all, thanks to James, Jackson and Roderick for taking the time to present your opinions and suggestions. However, I tend to agree more with James in the sense that,
by writting this project from scratch, I won't need to struggle with making the site needs to fit into an exisiting, pre-made CMS plugin.

In other words, it would be thought and written according to the site requirements from day one. Having a clear idea about what's needs to be accomplished, I only need a RoR expert to set it up for me and to provably upload a couple o files to show me the way. I could then start the manual labour of uploading all HTML files, one by one, under his supervision.


The benefit of this approach would be twofold:

- A huge time saver for this project. I won't need to become a RoR expert myself before attempting to write it. As a matter of fact, I'm not a web developer or a programmer of
any kind, only a site administrator with some knowledge of HTML. I'd like to think that my talents dwell somewhere else.

- By uploading files myself I'll start getting a pretty good insight about the ins and outs of RoR framework - already adapted to the site's architectural (scaffolding?)
needs - then it should be fairly easy to edit/modify files or to produce partial as well as global changes at a later stage.

The overall idea is to build the "new" site in the shadows so to speak, until the moment comes to make it live. Hostgator, my host company, supports RoR as well as other
languages, so it shouldn't be a problem to set up a folder and to start building it.

Having decided the right approach (thanks James for that) only leaves out the challenge to find a RoR expert to undertake it. Don't know if this forum is the right place to
ask this question, but please advice if you don't mind.

Over the last few years, I've hired several freelancers for technical implementations through major hiring sites such as Freelancer, Elance and 99designs.com, with varying
degrees of success. Have found this trial and error proccess very tiring and frustrating.

This project needs the right professional from day one.

The scope for this project is very simple really. The site is bilingual English/Spanish and can be independently navigated in any of them. It has two different headers,
footers, menues, etc. The new site will have a top central mega dropdown menu as well as two breadcrumb trails per page to help navigation throughout. It's going to be built using responsive design, CSS3 and HTML5. Having the theme already sorted, it's only a matter of start writing it.

As for the specific requirements in terms of site administration, edition and new implementations, they are also very straightforward and logical. Naturally, all this would the discussed in detail with the professional in charge.

In my humble point of view, this is only a small challenge for a RoR expert.

Where could I find such a person?

Edited by Jamie, 17 August 2013 - 02:10 PM.
Getting rid of empty whitespace

#6 sammysounder



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Posted 28 September 2013 - 06:46 AM

The difficulty you have is that the people who this is easy for are in high demand.  Its hard to get a quality freelancer for a short term contract.  People with a good reputation generally are looking for more challenging projects or charge a lot of money.  


I'm not convinced this site is as simple as you imply.  You have two languages you need to support, but I'm guessing it needs to be expandable into (at least) a third based in a Portuguese speaking country.  Do you also want bi-lingual URLs?    


Also, you've already thrown up two warning flags that are going to make savvy devs wary. 

  1. You've admitted you don't know much about the web, but have chosen a host.  Why that host? You can't be sure they're the best option for your app until you have made the decision of how to build and deploy the app.  Tell the dev what you want to do then let them figure out how to implement it.  Many top devs will host themselves or will be looking at some form of software as a service (SAAS). You've eliminated a good percentage of the talent pool with this statement.  
  2. You said you want to be able to upload HTML files.  Uploading HTML files into a CMS is risky at best.  It gives end-users the opportunity to break the site.  Anyone who has been in the industry for a few years has made the mistake of allowing end-users to upload HTML, then they write bad markup, and blame the dev when it doesn't work properly.  A better solution is BBCode or building the CMS to create markup.   

I'd recommend against a build-your-own solution if you're going to hire someone else to do it unless you're going to hire a SAAS company.  If they build their own site, then leave, you're going to be stuck with a difficult to support solution.  If they've used an existing CMS then another person will be more likely to fix the system.  If you go with a SAAS company then the person who builds it will be looking to create a long-term relationship and will be on the hook for long-term support.  That might be better from a business perspective.  

#7 Rowel



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Posted 28 September 2013 - 10:28 AM

Have you looked at Wordpress? 

#8 dmoore3



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Posted 28 September 2013 - 11:45 AM

Thanks for your feedback Inspector.

Initially, I've rouled out Wordpress for several reasons. Today, however, I'm beginning to think that I'll need to review that decision once again.


Thanks as well for your feedback Sammysounder.

I do use bilingual URLs, don't follow i18n rules and yes, would like to expand the site to more languages, Brazilian Portuguese is one of them. My present host is a huge improvement in relation to the former one, however, I'm not married with them. In fact, I've signed up with another one, it may become the final one. A few month ago, Rails was suggested to me by a developer who, after doing a small project for me, became aware of the limitations I was facing in terms of management and scalability -I was already aware of.


Today I'm not sure that Rails is the solution to my needs. True, I don't know much about the web, however, after growing and managing a site for a few years I have some ideas about how I'd like to proceed and how to manage present and future pages.


If I'm not able to upload HTML files to a CMS what would the use for it? I wouldn't give end users that privilege, that's for sure. Having language administrators is a good idea, but nobody would upload pages in my name, now or ever.


True as well, I came to the Rails forum looking for advice. Guess it's too much of a big league for me, at least for my level of knowledge and expertise.  I may need to scale down and continue to do things in the old fashion way. After all, Google doesn't seem to be too unhappy with it.


I also tend to get fed up with highly technological conversations, another prove that I'm in the wrong place - no offence intended.


Technology should be at my service and make my work easier in every sense, not the other way around. A tool could never replace talent, even when it requires talent to build an nice tool. To put it simple, it's only a means to an end, I leave the rest to the connoisseurs.


Thanks again Sammysounder for your input.

#9 Rowel



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Posted 28 September 2013 - 01:22 PM

Definitely check out the new Wordpress version. There are multilingual plugins for it. I think it will be an acceptable solution vs a custom roll-your-own Rails website.  And of course, you can always find 3rd-party plugins or hire developers to develop custom ones for your Wordpress site. 


There are responsive and mobile-first themes also available for WP.  

#10 dmoore3



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Posted 28 September 2013 - 02:14 PM

Thanks Inspector.

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