Rails, AngularJS (1.5.8), and Webpack — Part 3

Alrighty then. Where were we? I believe we left off in a good place. We installed the webpacker gem, and seemed to have communication between our newly created JS file and our app. Now for the hard part. I’m still learning this stuff myself, so bear with me. We’re going to attempt to use ES6 modules instead of the old way of declaring AngularJS components and such. This style guide is a good starting point to get to know what your components will look like and how they’ll interact with each other.

Setting up the Main Module

The first thing we’ll want to do is setup up our main Angular module in app/javascript/packs/application.js. First we have to import angular into the file so our module knows what it’s attaching itself to. We are also going to export the module, which will allow our webpack to compile it when we run app in the terminal.

// app/javascript/packs/application.js

import angular from 'angular';

const meals = angular.module('meals', [])

export default meals;

Now we have to declare our app in our main html file: app/views/layouts/application.html.erb. So in the body tag, add ng-app=”meals”.

<!DOCTYPE html>
    <%= csrf_meta_tags %>

    <%= stylesheet_link_tag    'application', media: 'all' %>
    <%= javascript_include_tag 'application' %>
    <%= javascript_pack_tag 'application' %>

  <body ng-app="meals">
    <%= yield %>

Now our app knows that it’s an Angular app and it’s looking for a module called ‘meals’. Let’s add a route with a component so we can actually see something working on the Angular side of the world.

Routing With angular-ui-router

If you’ve built anything with Angular in the past, you’ve most definitely used angular-ui-router. We’re going to install it with yarn. If you don’t have yarn installed, check out the installation instructions here. To install, or ‘add’ as it’s called in yarnish, head over to your terminal and type: ‘yarn add angular-ui-router’. If you check your dependencies in your package.json file, you should see ‘angular-ui-router’ listed.

So let’s see if we can get a route working. In our angular_home.html file, let’s add a ui-view directive.

<-- app/views/application/angular_home.html -->


This will give us an entry point into AngularLand and let us declare routes with $stateProvider in a config function. Back in our application.js file, let’s add a config function and a route. First we’ll have to import the ui-router so we can use all of its goodness. Check it…

// app/javascript/packs/application.js

import angular from 'angular';
import uirouter from 'angular-ui-router';

const meals = angular.module('meals', [uirouter])
  .config(($stateProvider) => {
      .state('home', {
        url: '/',
        template: `<h1>Hola Mundo!</h1>`

export default meals;

Ok so here we’re importing the angular-ui-router and chaining a config function onto our module. Angular-ui-router gives us access to $stateProvider, $urlRouterProvider, $state, and $stateParams. In the config function above, we’re using the Arrow function syntax now available in ES6, and setting the state. With a url and a simple template, we should be getting somewhere. Let’s quickly make a link back in angular_home.html so we can see our route is working.

<-- app/views/application/angular_home.html -->

<a ui-sref="home">Home</a>

Run the Webpack and Rails Server Simultaneously?

Now to run webpack, we can’t just run the rails server. We actually have to run the rails and the webpack servers. Back in the terminal, create a new tab in the same directory, then run ‘./bin/webpack-dev-server’. This will compile your included javascript files through webpack. If you’re like me, then you probably got a lot of red errors followed by this line: webpack: Failed to compile.

So something is not letting us load our module. If we scroll up in the terminal, we’ll see that most of the errors say that angular doesn’t exist. But I thought we installed Angular already!! Well, I’m pretty sure that when we installed it with the webpacker command, it installed Angular 4. We need version 1.5.8, which we can easily install add with yarn. Exit out of the webpack server in your terminal. Then type ‘yarn add angular@1.5.8’.

Check out your package.json file and you should see angular with the correct version listed under the dependencies. Now if we try to run the server again – ‘./bin/webpack-dev-server’ – everything should compile (there might be a few warnings, but let’s not worry about those). In your other tab run the rails server command and in your browser go to ‘localhost:3000’. You should see a link that says ‘Home’. Click it, and you should be routed to the home route that we set up earlier. If you followed along, you should see ‘Hola Mundo!’ on the webpage!

To Sum it Up

We are in the Angular business now! In this episode, we’ve connected the front end to our meals app with webpack, added angular-ui-router and AngularJS, created our main module with a route and template, learned how to run the webpack server, and saw our template working in the browser. Next time, we’ll get some functionality going with some http requests to the backend and do something a little more exciting than Hello World Hola Mundo. As always, thanks for reading. I hope this helps someone out there! Until next time…CHEERS:)


Removing whitespace from a string in Ruby vs. JavaScript

I’m back from vacation. After visiting my family in Long Island, we ventured up to the Catskills for a few nights, which culminated with my younger sister getting married. It was a very cool wedding! The next day, my wife, nephew, and I drove up to Montreal to see her folks. Montreal is one of my favorite cities (in the summer) – it has very European feel. As great as it is to get away, it’s always hard to get back into the groove after a trip. I’m just getting my sea legs back under me so this post is going to be short and sweet.

Have you ever needed to get rid of leading and trailing whitespace from a string? It’s a good rule of thumb to do just that to any input you’re receiving on a form. Luckily, it’s quite easy in most languages. Let’s take a look at how we’ll approach this in Ruby first.

str = "  How's it going?   "
=> "  How's it going?   "
# Let's get rid of that whitespace
=> "How's it going?"
=> "  How's it going?   "
# We didn't permanently change the string itself
# Most methods are non-destructive, but Ruby let's us be destructive if we 
# really want to. We just got to bang it (pun intended)
"How's it going?"
=> "How's it going?"

Pretty simple! Let’s take a look at how to do this in JavaScript.

let str = "  How's it going?   ";
'How/'s it going?'
'   How\'s it going?   '
// There's no permanent destructive way to change strings in JavaScript - they 
// are immutable. So we just have to reassign our variable like so...
str = str.trim();
'How\'s it going?'
'How\'s it going?'

I mentioned that strings in JavaScript are immutable. This means the string cannot be changed in memory. So when we call a method like trim or slice on a string, the return value is a new string. Like the example above, we have to reassign ‘str’ to the return value of the method call. In Ruby however, strings are mutable. Let’s take a look.

str = "  Trim me  "
=> 70365544319940 
=> "Trim me"
=> 70365544319940 
# Even though we changed the string, the id is still the same
# We can also change characters in place, which cannot be done in JS
str[7] = '!'
=> '!'
=> "Trim me!"
# Pretty cool!
=> 70365544319940 
# No change

That’s it for this week. Always remember how cool Ruby can be. It makes life easier in many ways. JavaScript however, can do much more. It is not only an Object Oriented language, but a multi-paradigm language! From Wikipedia:

As a multi-paradigm language, JavaScript supports event-driven, functional, and imperative (including object-oriented and prototype-based) programming styles. It has an API for working with text, arrays, dates, regular expressions, and basic manipulation of the DOM, but does not include any I/O, such as networking, storage, or graphics facilities, relying for these upon the host environment in which it is embedded.

Thanks Wikipedia! Until next time! Cheers:)

The Big O

First off, this is a technical blog. My apologies if you came here looking for something a little sexier. Not that Big O Notation can’t be sexy. Depends on what floats your boat or sinks your battleship. Anywho, the following is a little teaser on Big O.


When you take your first few steps learning how to program, something like Big O Notation is the furthest thing from your mind. Learning to code is hard. Period. There is so much to know, and quite frankly, it is daunting. Imagine looking up at the highest peaks of Mt. Everest from the bottom of the mountain. Now imagine that the mountain is always shifting and getting bigger. That’s what it feels like when you start learning. Somewhere along the way (hopefully), your footing will become more secure on the shifting ground and you’ll gain some comfortability in the place of not knowing. Because nobody knows it all. Keep one foot in front of the other and keep climbing. Try to enjoy the ride.

If you went to a bootcamp, there was so much knowledge being pushed into your brain in a few short months. Bootcamps are great, but they just focus on web development. When you graduate and start to prepare for interviews, you begin to hear scary terms that you never heard before. Things like Linked Lists, Big O Notation, Bitwise Operators, Binary Trees, Stacks, Queues, etc. These are all computer science topics and good to know, but unless you are working on high level stuff, you probably don’t have to know all of them. But those pesky interviewers will probably test you on them because they know most bootcamps don’t teach it and because they had to learn it when they got their BS in CS.

Heavy Petting

One of those terms, Big O Notation, is actually very useful to know. When you begin to program, you’re not thinking about how your program will scale if a few thousand or perhaps a million people start to use it. You just learn what a for loop is, then learn you can have nested for loops, and you think everything is grand! Not so fast Kemosabe. This is where Big O Notation and scaling come in. Let’s take a look at how you might write a function to double each element in an array of arrays.

function doubleMe(arrayOfArrays) {
  const doubledArrayOfArrays = [];

  for (let i = 0; i < arrayOfArrays.length; i++) {
    let placeholderArray = []
    for (let j = 0; j < arrayOfArrays[i].length; j++) {
      placeholderArray.push(arrayOfArrays[i][j] * 2);

 return doubledArrayOfArrays;

doubleMe([[1,2,3], [4,5,6], [7,8,9]];  // [[2,4,6], [8,10,12], [14,16,18]]

This might look all fine and dandy, and when you first learn about nested for loops they might seem like the best thing since sliced bread! But let’s take a look at how this will scale.

We Have Lift Off

The length or size of our arrayOfArrays above is 3. However, since each element of the array is another array the function has to work that much more. Basically, for every item in the array (n for the input size), we have to do n more operations. So n * n == n^2 or O(n^2). The given example might be a little too on the nose being 3^2 is 9. It’s usually not that exact. You might ask, ‘So what’s the big deal? The function only has to run 9 times instead of 3’. Well, everything is groovy if the input is low, but what if it grows to 100 or 1,000 or 1,000,000. You start to get the point. With lower inputs, it’s not a big deal, but as the input grows, so does the time complexity of the function.



I’m Very Sensitive

Sorry if I got a little too excited. Let’s back up here a bit. Maybe I should start with O(1). Gayle Laakmann McDowell, author of a Cracking the Coding Interview, has a great video about Big O. It’s definitely worth a watch. She gives a great example about a problem South African programmers were having. Their internet connection was super slow and it was taking a long time to transfer data to team members in a different city. So they tried an experiment. They transferred the data to a usb drive and had a carrier pigeon (let’s call him Bob) deliver it to their work mates in the other city. At the same time they were transferring the data through their internet connection. The race between Bob and the internet. Guess who won?

If you said ‘BOB!’, then you are correct. So what does this have to do with Big O? Glad you asked! Bob’s flight in Big O terms is O(1). If it took Bob 30 minutes to get from one office to the other, then no matter what size the file is, it does not change the amount of time it takes him. Whether he’s flying with 10MB or 1TB, it still takes him 30 minutes. So O(1) is a program or function that takes the same amount of time to run no matter how large the input grows.


Bob is a low flying bird

Almost There

Revisiting our South African friends, as the size of the data they were transferring (over the internet) grew, the time it took to transfer grew by the same order. This would be O(n) and is linear in time and space. The green line in the graph above represents this. What would this look like as a function? Take my hand and let us find out.

function tripleMe(array) {
  const tripledArray = [];

  for (let i = 0; i < array.length; i++) {
    tripledArray.push(array[i] * 3);

  return tripledArray;

tripleMe([1,2,3,4,5]);   // [3,6,9,12,15]

Each element of the array gets worked on once. If our array had 1,000,000 elements, our for loop would run 1,000,000 times. From an input of an array of 1 element to an input of an array with 1,000,000 elements, the time complexity a straight line.

Pillow Talk

There are definitely other elements of Big O to talk about and understand, but I’m spent. I gave a pretty good (in my humble opinion) performance overview of the basics. I hope it was as good for you as it was for me. Sweet dreams buttercup.

Cool Shortcuts in JS

After learning Ruby, getting stuff done in Javascript can seem much harder. Many methods in Ruby, such as sort, are just a dot notation away. However, in JS you have to write out the whole function. Check it…

# Ruby
numbers = [2, 5, 6, 11, 1, 23, 3]
# numbers = [1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 11, 23] Not bad at all!
# That was so easy. Let's try it with names....

names = ['Martha', 'Tony', 'Sarah','Bob', 'Clara']
# names = ["Bob", "Clara", "Martha", "Sarah", "Tony"]
# Woah! It's the same!

// JS
let numbers = [2, 5, 6, 11, 1, 23, 3]
numbers = numbers.sort((a, b) => a - b)
// Well that's not so bad
// Let's try it with names

let names = ['Martha', 'Tony', 'Sarah','Bob', 'Clara']
names = names.sort((a, b) => {
  if (a < b) {
    return -1;
  } else if (a > b) {
    return 1;
  } else {
    return 0;
// Yuck. Quite a bit more verbose

Well, unfortunately there are just some things in JavaScript that are the way they are. Like my Scottish father-in-law says, “You cannot fart against thunder”. Some things you just have to accept. Sometimes, you (or people that make the thunder) can change it. ES6 has brought some cool changes that have made programming in JS much more fun. I’ve been messing around with some cool shortcuts that you can use to give your fingers a bit of a break. Some of these were already available pre-ES6.

First let’s take a look at flattening an array of arrays.

# Just for fun I'll include the Ruby magic

arrays = [1, [2, 3], [4, [5, 6]], 7]
# [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] - Too easy

// Pre ES6
var arrays = [1, [2, 3], [4, [5, 6]], 7];
var flattenedArrays = [].concat.apply([], arrays);
// [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]
// Not horrible, but the spread operator makes it even better...

const arrays = [1, [2, 3], [4, [5, 6]], 7];
const flattenedArrays = [].concat(...arrays)
// Not a huge difference, but - Less typing = Happier coder 

Ok that wasn’t a huge deal. Here are some examples using operands. Thanks to these wonderful humans for bringing them to my attention.

var number = 1,
  string = "1",

// How would you normally change number to a string? Personally, I'd use the  .toString() method

// "1" 
// But this is more fun...
number + ""  // "1"
// I like

// How bout changing that string to an integer?
// A little parseInt() shall we?

parseInt(string) // 1
// The following is much more succinct

+string // 1
// Shiiiiit. That's cool.

How bout finding the max/min from an array. Well the Math prototype does not accept an array as it’s arguments.

// Pre-JS6
const numbers = [8, 7, 55, 4];
Math.max.apply(null, numbers) // 55
Math.min.apply(null, numbers) // 4
// JS6
Math.max(...numbers)  // 55
Math.min(...numbers)  // 4
// Very nice!

# Just for S & G's - Ruby
numbers.max  # 55 - beautiful

The spread operator makes this possible by spreading the values in the array out into arguments of the math functions. Not quite the magical abstractness of Ruby, but cool nonetheless! There are of course libraries like lodash that fill in some of the cracks, but there are always new things to discover about a language. The never ending mountain is waiting to be climbed. She is forever shifting and you can never reach the top. You just have to learn to love climbing. And remember…you cannot fart against thunder (in a very broad Scottish accent). That man has some stories.