On Web App Development, the “Sites” folder, and Ruby on Rails…

I’ve been working more in web development lately, both in PHP (picking up more freelance work) and learning Ruby on Rails. It’s always been something of a hobby of mine to try new things with web programming, but one thing always makes me clench my fists and gnash my teeth: the Mac OS X user “Sites” folder…

It sounded like a good idea at the time, much easier than trying to wrestle Apache onto my Windows dev machine (always a futile endeavor). But when I more recently looked at my “Sites” folder, I found that I’m drowning in projects. Fortunately, our recent review of “Headdress” sparked my interest, as it fixes that problem, in a manner of speaking. At least, for the lighter work.
I’ve been using PHP a bit more recently since I found CakePHP, which provides for some amazing development in the lines of Ruby on Rails (without the Ruby). The “pretty URLs”, scaffolding, MVC, and more – CakePHP does much of what RoR can do.
But, if you still feel more inclined towards Rails, you don’t really need to worry about installing a Rails server on your development Mac (unless you plan on hosting it there as well). Locomotive, a nice open source project, will run and manage your Ruby web apps for you, using the latest package of Rails. The only thing you’ll have to install besides Locomotive itself is the MySQL server to handle the database functions. Loco always comes with the latest stable package of the Rails frameworks. The benefits of Locomotive include the fact that you don’t have to fight with installing Ruby on Rails manually, and you don’t have to keep your Rails project in the Sites folder unless you really want to.
So, even though we have that folder intended for sharing/running our PHP/Rails-based web apps, we’re no longer confined to the limitations of the Sites folder. And, in the past year, packages and binaries have become available which allow us to easily get up and running with web development on Mac OS X.

Binaries and Easy installation/setup for:

Other links:
TextMate – a nice Ruby-aware text editor that works amazingly well with Locomotive
SubEthaEdit – an old favorite text-editor of mine (*was* a favorite until they killed the “free for non-commercial use” license)