How Do You Make a Gem?

This is not intended to be a how-to. I sort of talked a bit about that before. I’m writing this post because, as I breathlessly blogged before (alliteration!), I released my first gem. I then immediately turned around to start using it. And it was terrible. Yay for version 0.1! So I’m going to try something else.

The thing that sucked so bad was the API, basically. I didn’t really know how I wanted to use it or how best to fit it into a Rails app. I made a reasonable guess and got to work. It wasn’t a terrible first try, but it was a terrible API. However, I’m not sure what better looks like yet. And I think that I sort of got ahead of myself; I put the cart before the horse.

It’s a little like making the transition from drawing on paper to creating art with the GIMP. When you’re on paper, you draw the stuff that’s in front first and you only draw as much of the stuff that’s behind other stuff as can be seen. So you learn to think a certain way about how you build up your picture. In a program that has layers, you can draw in any old order and draw something entirely even if it’s obscured by something else in the long run.

I was thinking that the obvious path would be to develop my little gem of functionality and then use it in the larger Hey Go Vote application. Now I’m starting to think that’s backwards. I’m going to just work on Hey Go Vote and trust that doing so will give me insight into what parts of the announcement machinery can be made portable. Then I’ll extract those bits into a gem and refactor Hey Go Vote to use the new gem. I’m sure I’ll let you know how that goes.