Diving Into Ruby on Rails With EmoteVid

It all started with the guy’s head exploding in Scanners.

That’s how my ever-inventive little brother expressed frustration to me in an email, and it made me laugh. But it also gave me an idea: what if I could create a library on the web for short videos like this, and have them categorized by emotion? Thus I began my first project in Ruby on Rails, in what eventually turned into EmoteVid.

This was a great exercise for a lot of reasons: I learned a lot about Heroku, MVC, server-side caching, hashed passwords, video on IOS, responsive designing for mobile, Twitter Bootstrap, SASS, and on and on. I could continue for hours about all the things I had only heard about but  now have a firm grasp of.

But, beyond learning about how a lot of new technologies work, what was really fun was figuring out how these things could help me build something awesome, more quickly and easily than ever before. Writing software is fun, but I really like building products, and frameworks like Rails are an incredible boon for people like me.

With this site, I had one goal: getting users to find and share short videos in as few clicks as possible. The underlying structure of my site is simple, but making it quick and easy to use meant I had to get clever in a few instances, like using YouTube thumbnails and play buttons to create what look like traditional embeds that wait for an interaction to load the actual embeds, which made the pages load near-instantly. Oh, and making this work on iOS, which attempts to restrict videos from playing automatically.


I’m also quite fond of the first page you see when you visit the site, the emotion picker (above). It works on any kind of device, but it was originally conceived as a touch-first interface for doing something super simple: picking things on a list! I like to grab it, let it fly and see where it lands. I’m not sure how many other uses it has, but it was fun to put together, and it’s fun to use. Which is pretty much the whole story behind this side project–and hopefully the next.

check out EmoteVid.