Chris Roos by Chris Roos

Show and Tell 9

We hosted our 9th Show and Tell event on Wednesday last week.

We considered postponing until we have a new space of our own but decided that keeping up the rhythm was more important. James did a great job of scouting potential venues and we eventually settled on The Studio at The Star of Kings. It was perfectly big enough for the eight of us and the wall mounted TV allowed us to connect our laptops and share things from our screens.

How to Write a Web Application in Ruby

Tom S kicked off by talking about a few things he’s working at the moment. The first is his How to Write a Web Application in Ruby ebook. He talked us through his custom workflow involving DocBook and Apache FOP to generate a good looking PDF.

Lambda Calculus

Tom went on to talk about an ongoing project to help explain Lambda calculus in a web page. He demonstrated a very early version of this to us back in week 268 and then again during Show and Tell 8 when he’d rewritten his hand-rolled JavaScript to use Backbone.js. He’s now started exploring using React and has been really impressed with the resulting code and behaviour. There’s still more to do to bring it into line with the Backbone version but it looks interesting so far.

Rubyforge Redirects

Tom finished up by demonstrating a simple project to redirect broken Rubyforge links. Rubyforge was shut down a while ago leaving an awful lot of links going nowhere. Tom’s created rubyforge-redirects - a simple web app currently hosted on Heroku - to redirect <project> URLs to somewhere sensible. Tom tweeted about it on Thursday and wants help building out the set of redirects. If you’ve been frustrated by following a link to and found yourself at a 404 then consider helping out!

Accessibility at FutureLearn

After a little food and drink break, Nicky took up the presenter role and gave us a preview of the talk she went on to give at the February Ember London meetup the following night. Nicky talked us through the process of evolving the “Like” button on FutureLearn to make it more accessible. It was interesting to learn about the techniques used and I hope it served as a useful dry-run before the main event the following evening. Nicky’s written this up in more detail on the FutureLearn blog and it looks like Ember London make videos of the talks available online so you should hopefully be able to see the talk soon.

Web Audio

Chris L finished off the evening by talking us through some of the features of the Web Audio Editor in Firefox, the Google I/O 2015 Web Audio demo and an idea he has for a book based around Web Audio. The subject of the book sounds really interesting to me and I’d certainly like to encourage Chris to work on it.


We had a good follow-up discussion around delivering content in book form. Tom talked about some of the difficulties of formatting code in his books and mentioned the decision of Two Scoops Press to drop the ebook formats for Two Scoops of Django 1.6. I was surprised by this decision until learning quite how much work goes into ensuring it works on the many e-reading devices out there. It makes me wonder how useful it is to try to force this sort of content into a book with a set number of pages. It does seem that people are more willing to pay for a book (be it paper, digital or audio) than they might be for the same content made available online, and maybe that’s reason enough. Amy mentioned that quite a few people enjoyed consuming the snippets of video in the alpha of their Minimum Viable Book. Video clearly doesn’t translate to print so it’ll be interesting to see how their beta newspaper release is received.

I really enjoyed the evening and I’m glad we decided to keep it up despite not having a space of our own.

– Chris

If you have any feedback on this article, please get in touch!

Historical comments can be found here.