Sunday, April 15, 2007

Reporting on Rails

Another (far more famous) Ara has written a fantastic, much-needed plug-in for Rails called MOle. MOle lets you gather reporting information on your Rails application in real-time. Reporting is really a cross-cutting concern, common to many applications. It's great to see tools becoming available for Rails in this direction. Coincidentally, we've been rolling our own framework at Postful for doing this sort of thing. What did we call it? Snitch. I'm not kidding. And Snitch is the name of the console application for MOle. We were planning to release our Snitch as a plug-in, but now seeing the fantastic work done on MOle, it makes more sense for us to contribute rather than compete.

What are the advantages of MOle over externalizing your reporting with something like, say, Google Analytics?
This is only going to be a fragment of the true list of advantages, since I've just begun dipping into the code, but at first glance what is obvious is this:
  • Gauging application performance by wrapping controllers

  • Capturing application-specific business data

  • Monitoring this data in real-time, rather than the typical reporting lag of external analytics tools

  • Monitoring particular code paths, like exceptions thrown, rather than just raw request headers
By itself, these things make MOle a necessary complement to externalized analytics packages I'm excited to see where development is going to take this project.


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