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RailsGirls Summer of Code: Team BrowserSpree

Posted on September 26, 2014 by Jam Black and Britney Wright

About Team BrowserSpree

Team BrowserSpree is one of the 10 sponsored teams selected in this summer’s Rails Girls Summer of Code, and has had a pretty busy summer. Based in Washington, DC, teammates Jam Black and Britney Wright, along with their coaches, Patrick Peak and Tanya Bodanya, set a goal of integrating BrowserCMS, a Rails content management system and Spree into a gem–- BrowserSpree.

Summer of Code

Setting a goal of combing two separate Rails engines is by far no easy task–- especially for newbies, so to make things easier we broke our goals into milestones:

1. Orientation into BrowserCMS
2. Build a storefront using only BroswerCMS content types
3. Update “Getting Started” and “Content Blocks” documentation (based on experience)
4. Orientation into Spree Commerce
5. Add store features using Spree
6. Build a Spree Module
7. Build a BrowserSpree site

In July, we dove into BCMS using content blocks and portlets to build our own bookstore for our clients (in this case, our coaches). We knew that eventually, we would just look to Spree to perform many of the features below, but this was a good way to gain familiarity with BCMS. The functions we built included:

• Catalog all of the books that our visitors can browse
• View product pages individually
• Categorize by type of book (authors, fiction/nonfiction, politics, economics, young reader, vampire novels, etc.)
• Give authors their own pages that list their work
• Make authors’ other works visible even if we don’t have those books for sale
• When viewing a book, customers should be able to see all the author’s other books for sale
• When viewing a product, buyers should be able to see other related products

In August we received opportunity scholarships to attend Steel City Ruby where we gave our first lightning talk. We also participated in the first ever Ruby for Good, where we worked on BCMS 4.0 Beta documentation. In August, we also dove into Spree, and soon realized since Spree is an ecommerce platform, a lot of the features we built within BCMS in July were automatically included. So we moved onto the next hurdle— installing both gems in the same Rails app so we could see how these engines play together.

Along the way, we learned some helpful tips:

Google, Google, Google

This can’t be said enough. Not only when it comes to errors, but also when you have a feature you are trying to add, or a “how do I go about doing ‘x’ question.” It was surprising how much we found out just by using others people’s questions. Plus, Googling is a required skill to be a developer–- right under using Git or knowing the command line. And you would be shocked by how much even the most experienced developers rely on Google.

It’s okay to go over the basics

It’s hard to write a novel when you can’t first write a sentence. For one or two weeks, we had to cover some Rails basics— in addition to building our store so we could ensure we learned and applied the fundamentals of Rails and not just BCMS-isms.

Pseudo code

Pseudo code is writing in English what you are trying to accomplish in code. It helps to logically map out the steps to get to your desired outcome.

Break large tasks into smaller ones

Start small. When we added a feature, it seemed daunting and oftentimes felt like we had no idea where to start. Breaking one big action into smaller ones was key because it allowed us to start with what we did know–- and take it step-by-step from there.

Where to From Here?

As the last week of Rails Girls Summer of Code wraps up, we are putting the finishing touches on our gem and drafting documentation. Check back for our follow-up post to see how we crossed the hurdles of resolving gem dependencies, deciding what features to include in our gem and, finally, release the alpha version of BrowserSpree! To view this piece in its original format, visit our blog at Rails Girls Summer of Code.

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Spree Commerce Upgrades Shopify Integration for Wombat

Posted on September 24, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Spree Commerce has released its upgraded, officially supported Shopify Integration for Wombat. Spree Commerce Certified Partner and ecommerce website design and development agency, NuRelm, built the upgraded connection to Shopify stores for Spree’s automated ecommerce integration platform, Wombat.

Wombat gives its users the most diverse and effective arsenal of integrations in the industry. NuRelm has extensive experience building integrations for Shopify stores and delivering exceptional, user-friendly websites for businesses of all sizes. For over 15 years, NuRelm has mastered and delivered web projects for small, as well as large, clients like Heinz and Mylan.

By using Wombat’s newly upgraded integration, Shopify storefront users can now connect to Wombat in just five minutes and have easy access to all of the convenient, out-of-the-box ecommerce integrations that Wombat offers.

“The Shopify platform is a great solution that makes it easy to launch your own online storefront,” said Sam Shaaban, CEO and co-founder of NuRelm. “However, as a business grows, so does the complexity of its operations. Wombat connects store owners to all of their mission-critical services and scales according to their business needs; eliminating complexity and preventing problems.”

For a complete rundown on how to easily connect with Shopify, join us on Wednesday, October 1st at 2PM EST for a co-hosted Shopify integration webinar. The webinar will be led by Shaaban, who will provide a detailed tour of how to quickly and easily integrate your Shopify storefront with Wombat. To view the full press release on ths upgrade, visit PRWeb.

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Spree 2.3.3 Released

Posted on September 19, 2014 by Jeff Dutil

Summary

Spree has issued new 2.3.3, 2.2.6, and 2.1.9 releases which are available now! These releases are primarily all focused on bug fixes.

If you are upgrading to Rails 4.1.6 or 4.0.10 please make sure to update to these latest releases, which resolve regressions caused by the mail gem dependency.

You can review the Github Compare for a complete list of 2.3.x changes.
You can review the Github Compare for a complete list of 2.2.x changes.
You can review the Github Compare for a complete list of 2.1.x changes.

Other Versions of Spree

If you are using Spree versions 2.0.x and older you should consider upgrading as soon as possible. Our current Release Policy is to only maintain the latest two versions of Spree along with the current master.

Spree 2.4.x will be released in the near future, and will mean the end of official 2.0.x support.

Happy Friday!

Have a great weekend everyone.

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The Pros and Cons of Fixed-Price Projects

Posted on September 18, 2014 by BuildRX

BuildRX is a development team that builds custom apps and websites for really awesome brands. Their clients include: Universal Music, Juicy Couture, Swarovski, Scion, the San Francisco 49ers and many more. BuildRX is a Spree Commerce Certified Partner.

Over the past six years that our development agency has been in business we’ve taken many different approaches to close leads as quickly and efficiently as possible. None of the tactics we’ve tried have been quite as successful as scoping fixed-priced projects for clients.

Many agencies seem to shy away from this pricing strategy as it’s much riskier than billing clients an hourly rate, but it can significantly assist with developing client confidence in your ability and can open doors to more projects and retainer-style work. This is an especially great strategy for young agencies that are starting out and in the early growth stages as you need to build trust with inbound leads.

Even though it can be a great strategy and will help you close projects it’s very important to be careful. It’s essential to have an experienced team member on board that knows what they’re doing when it comes to scoping a project accurately and seeing the project through to completion on budget.

Here’s a good way to understand the risks and benefits of scoping fixed-price projects before moving forward with this pricing method:

Pro

Easier to close projects
When you create a fixed-priced scope, you take the financial risk off of your client and put the burden on your agency. Simply, being explicit about what you will do and how much you’ll do it for makes it easier for them to say yes or no.

Con

Clients don’t always articulate all their needs up front
While you have years of experience building websites and apps, often your clients may not. Consequently, clients may have a difficult time articulating what they need or what’s involved in creating it. Success in using fixed-price quotes highly depends on your ability to listen to them, ask the right questions, and draft a clear scope of work that gets them from the beginning to the final stage of the project.

Have any questions about the pros and cons of fixed-price projects? Reach out to us on twitter @BuildRX and, while you’re at it, take a look at BuildRX.com . To view this blog in its full format, visit BuildRX’ post on medium.com.