Matt Van Horn

Things I Like

(and some that I don't)

My Development Setup

January 30th 2012

I was working on the CSS for this blog, and reading an older post, when I realized how much my daily development setup has changed. Almost everything has changed from a couple of years ago, and I thought it might be nice to share how I get things done, since IMHO it is a pretty nice way to work.


This has changed the least. I’m still tooling away on my 2008 MacBook Pro, although I did drop in a 500GB drive. I will say this about Apple products - they stay useful far longer than their counterparts from Acer and Dell.


Still using Textmate, although I am now starting to explore alternatives. Rubymine (which I use at work) is a total pain to work with, so right now I’m leaning towards biting the bullet and learning Vim, unless another decent editor pops up.


Github. Is there really anything that needs to be said about that?

Ruby & Rails

I’m currently using Ruby 1.9.2-p290, with RVM. My most recent project is Rails 3.1.2, but I will probably upgrade to 3.2 within the month.

Development App Server

I’m using Pow, from 37 signals, which although it has some drawbacks with regard to SSL, is still pretty nice to use locally. I got sick of tweaking Apache and Passenger config files all the time.

Testing Tools

Cucumber, RSpec 2.8 & Capybara for the basics. Fabrication as a factory for test data NullDb to ensure that my unit tests are actually unit tests. Shoulda Matchers, Email Spec, and Timecop for some miscellaneous conveniences.


I use Guard, with guard-spork, guard-rspec, guard-cucumber, guard-bundler, and guard-pow. This keeps my tests running quickly and continuously.

I’m also using TDDium to offload my CI work. There’s a post-receive hook set at Github, and they push to Heroku for me when the build is green. Pain-free continuous deployment, yay!

I’m also using Pivotal Tracker and pickler to coordinate my development priorities. With the Pivotal iPhone app, I can write stories on the train, and then pickler-pull them into my test suite to do BDD.

That’s about it - some nice tools to keep me focused on writing code instead of struggling to configure a bunch of stuff on my machine. After all, who likes shaving yaks?

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