Using Serve with ongoing Rails project

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Sep 21, 2013, 2:31:13 AM9/21/13
Hi everyone,

   Just wondering if anyone has experience with workflows for designers to use Serve to make ongoing design changes in a Rails project. When we started our project, our designers built a static site with just HTML/CSS while our backend folks built the Rails app, then the backend programmers merged the designers layout into the app. Now the designers want to keep making changes, but getting a whole rails environment up and running for them is a bit daunting (esp since our app uses some obscure extensions like PostGIS). I'm thinking of setting up a Serve version of the site for them to work on so they can prototype their changes in a way that is easy for me to merge into the rails backend. I'm wondering if anyone here has attempted to keep a serve prototype in sync with a real Rails app over time-- and how you went about doing it, what are the pitfalls, etc. I'd be particularly interested if anyone has built any scripts to try to automate the process. Thanks for your input!


John W. Long

Sep 22, 2013, 6:40:48 PM9/22/13
Hey, sorry for the late reply here. Crazy weekend!

There are not a lot of magic bullets here. You can create a simple script to copy over your CSS and images, but if you automate it you will need to make sure that developers know that changes to CSS should only happen in the Serve project (not in the Rails project). I've done this on projects in the past and it's worked reasonably well, but can be a little frustrating for developers if they are also used to making changes to the CSS.

I really recommend trying to get your designers into the Rails project if you can. I like to prototype apps in Serve, but quickly migrate over to the Rails app once the developers start working on it. This makes it easier for my work to stay in sync with theirs.


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Richard Metzler

Sep 22, 2013, 8:00:18 PM9/22/13
Don't you have a staging or test environment where you can just reuse the database and point the Rails app on the designer's system towards it? 


2013/9/23 John W. Long <>



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Aaron Cimolini

Sep 23, 2013, 12:35:10 PM9/23/13
I'm working in a C# mvc environment and I used Serve to prototype up the initial pages for the redesign. However I found it easier to just copy the sass files into the project directly and simply run it as a compass project while developing. In Visual Studio I just run a local copy of the project with the data from the production database. This is pretty much what Richard was suggesting.

For getting the designers up and running with their own local RoR envs with your obscure extensions, you might want to look into using Vagrant and Puppet/Chef. I personally haven't used them yet, but I'm going to for my next project, so I've been doing some research.They allow you to create Virtual Machines quickly on your local computer and then run provisioning scripts to install your required software for the environment. This way you can develop on a VM locally that has the same environment as your production servers.

Hope this helps,
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