Jamie's Blog

Lessons from a life of startups, coding, countryside, and kids

Picks of the week: Papertrail, rack-ssl-enforcer, WP-Markdown and Marked

I recently set up PaperTrail on our production server and it’s extremely useful. It basically uploads the log files you configure, aggregates them and let’s you search them. That’s useful but what’s blow-me-away amazing is setting up saved searches and alerts. Now I can easily be notified when a particular user logs it, or when a particular action occurs, and all without needing to introduce specific code into my application. I’m very impressed so far.

I used rack-ssl-enforcer to redirect all insecure connections over to the secure HTTPS versions, and it worked well. If you’re a Vagrant user, it has the advantage over the built-in Rails support because you can configure the secure and insecure ports.

And I’ve now stated writing all my blog posts in Markdown formatting. The WP-Markdown plugin for Wordpress lets you write plain Markdown in the Compose editor, renders this to HTML as a preview below (like Stackoverflow), and—most importantly—it saves both the markdown text and the rendered HTML. This means that you can disable the plugin and the rendered blog post will remain the same. It also has really good syntax highlighting support that makes writing technical posts a more pleasant experience.

Lastly, there’s Marked. If you find the Wordpress editor a little restrictive for editing and prefer writing in your favourite text editor / writing tool (e.g. iAWriter / Byword, then Marked if the perfect companion application. It monitors a markdown file and renders a preview (using a variety of styles) and lets you export the results as HTML, PDF etc. It’s a small thing but I found it useful