Spree Commerce

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Exciting Commerce Developments at RailsConf

Posted on May 09, 2009 by Sean Schofield

The Spree ecommerce project was on proud display at this years RailsConf and there were plenty of exciting new developments to talk about. End Point was there in full force with four of its employees in attendance. I’m pleased to report that many of the people we had talked to were already familiar with Spree. Those that had not heard of Spree seemed to be impresed with it upon learning more about it. We had pretty good attendance for our Spree BOF despite having to compete agains the Lightning Talks and the Penn and Teller show. It was great meeting several of our existing users as well as others who were hoping to learn more about Spree.

Fabio Akita did a lengthy interview with me about Spree on the second day of the conference which he already has posted. I haven’t listened to it yet but it was basically a discussion about the origins of the project and what makes Spree special as a commerce platform. The “Rails Envy” guys were kind enough to mention us during their Rails: A Year of Innovation talk. Carl and Yehuda both mentioned Spree during their talk on The Russian Doll Pattern: Mountable Apps in Rails 3. Mountable apps look extremely promising and they have important implications for projects such as Spree.

One of my main goals at this conference was to learn more about the exciting concept of mountable apps. Yahuda explained that in Rails 3, applications will be able to define “mount points” which define an informal sort of API that can be used to link applications together. In this way, applications such as Spree could be combined with other applications, such as Radiant, and they could even share common aspects such as login or admin panel. The ability to mount several apps together is a confirmed (and nearly completed) feature for Rails 3. The actual implementation of a commmon login and admin menu is being envisioned as a separate project outside of the Rails core. In fact, Yahuda and Carl have already started up a Google Group to discuss such a venture. Feel free to join in the discussion if this is something that interests you (and it should interest you if you are planning on doing a lot of Spree development in the future.)

One exciting announcement during the conference was that End Point is now offering dedicated Spree Hosting. They’re offering highly secure, pre-configured Linux boxes with all of the Spree software and dependencies installed and ready to go. My favorite aspect of this offering is the parallel development environment you get for free with dev camps. Personally I like this kind of service because it saves me the hassle – particularly when it comes to setting up log rotation, dedicated backups, nagios monitoring, etc.

RailsConf tends to provide leading indicators on what technologies will become a big deal in the following year. Last year everyone was talking about Phusion Passenger. This year, there is the same level of buzz (probably even more) surrounding Rack. I’ve recently discovered an excellent guide on this topic on the Rails site. Gregg Pollack also gave a very excellent explanation of Rack during his innovation talk (with video of this talk promised soon on Rails Envy. There was also a lot of talk about metric_fu which is a nice gem that combines a series of code metric modules into a single gem. We’ll be running this on the Spree project soon. I’m sure there’s lots of room for improvement.

RailsConf was a great time and definitely worthwhile. I was glad for the opportunity to get the word out on Spree and spend time with my coworkers. Even better then talking about Spree was listening about what other people were up to. After the conference we all had several exciting new ideas on how to improve Spree. You’ll be hearing more about these new ideas in the coming days.