Lovetastic (now a part of OKCupid) was one of the first social networks to be built with Ruby on Rails, launched early in 2006. Not only does the site address an important social mission, but we also broke a number of technical barriers in building the site.
Some of the unusual problems we solved in building Lovetastic:
- Automated (24/7, nearly instantaneous) photograph approval using Amazon Mechanical Turk
- Intuitive search that intelligently guesses what users are looking for
- Randomized profile questions, so each member’s profile is different
- A fully AJAX interface
- Storage of assets on Amazon S3 for portability and backup
- A design that conveyed warmth and safety, distinguishing Lovetastic strongly from its competitors
- A custom-coded ActiveMerchant gateway for an obscure payment processor (which is now a part of ActiveMerchant core)
- Recurring subscription billing
- Third-party promotional email integration
RubyRags is actually a project built for members of the Ruby community. It’s also a fully-automated e-commerce site, shipping items across the globe every day with almost no intervention by the site’s owners on a day-to-day basis.
To accomplish this, we had to build a special Ruby library for integrating with an outsourced fulfillment warehouse, which happened to have some of the most antiquated IT systems we’d ever seen (including a nightly push via FTP of CSV files to communicate new orders!) The robust Ruby library we built for this purpose is used by others, including our friends over at Ravelry.com.
Some other features of the project:
- Fully AJAX shopping cart, with slick scriptaculous effects
- Inventory tracking with visual graphs
- Easy administrative back-end
- Super-simple design
- In-stock notifications for customers
- Automatic discounts for Rails Core contributors (as pulled nightly from the Rails code repository)
Harvard University's Humanist Chaplain asked us to build them a "Slate Magazine for Humanism," and we were happy to oblige.
Some features of our work on this project:
- Caching of third-party RSS feeds to keep page-load times fast
- We used several third-party APIs and services to keep development costs low
- A sophisticated multi-layered CSS design implemented on a tight time-schedule (48 hours from delivery of PSDs)
- Amazon S3 image storage and hosting