Ruby + Bonjour = Decentralized Intertubes

By Gregory Brown
June 19, 2008

I've been to a lot of Ruby conferences before, and the thing most of them have in common has been crappy internet. Some folks apparently got tired of this at RailsConf 2008 and decided to work around it.

Using Apple's now open source Bonjour service discovery protocol, a number of apps cropped up during and after the conference.

Hackers wanted to easily host their code repositories off the net, so gitjour was born. From the looks of it, this makes it dirt simple to host and broadcast a git repository for other folks to clone. Because we've all been spoiled by github, this is a great relief for those who dreaded manual configuration of Apache and other not-so-fun stuff.

Soon after gitjour, people began to think of other useful services to have 'off the grid'. So far, we've seen pastejour for decentralized pastebins, gemjour for setting up and broadcasting your locally installed gems for remote install, and appjour for broadcasting web applications.

Beyond this, notification systems were built to tie all this stuff together, including the Growl based dejour and the Ruby Cocoa based starjour. These tools help keep you in the know about what services are available in the throng of laptops that surround you at a conference.

Knowing first hand the pain of crappy internet connections at conferences, and the annoyance of manually having to pass around system information to host things locally, this stuff sounds like a great step forward in getting some real hacking done at conferences and other places where the internet might be shabby.

This article is meant to let folks who are interested in this stuff know these apps exist, but it really just a cheap summary of Dr. Nic's excellent article on the topic, in which he gives much more detail about how to get these various tools up and running on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Please check that out if you're looking for a more comprehensive rundown.

Also, if I missed any cool stuff that deserves a mention here, or if you'd like to share stories about other neat stuff that's going on with Bonjour that isn't Ruby specific, please drop a comment. Also, since I have mostly just read up on this stuff and not really used it, if you have first hand experiences, I'd love to hear them.

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