lists have long been one of the favorite features in Basecamp, so we
thought it would be a nice experiment to share that particular feature
with the world at large. Free of charge. And Ta-da List was born!
A few user-oriented highlights of Ta-da:
- Extensive use of XMLHttpRequest:
Adding new items and checking them on and off are done with remote
calls that change their state in the database while simultaneously
to add new items to a list and youre not restricted by the 10
predefined fields that most apps like this does.
- Loose sharing with unique URLs:
Sharing a list with a single or group of buddies is easier than ever as
there is no password to remember. Instead, everyone just gets a unique URL that they can bookmark right away. At 32 characters and as a MD5 hash, its plenty of security for this type of application and much easier to use.
- Collecting all the shares:
By allowing you to share any list with any email address, we already
got the viral thing going. The barrier of signing up has been postponed
until youre hooked, and once you are, you automatically collect all
the shares as you signup. This means that theyre all available from
your dashboard and you can reduce the bookmarked lists down to one URL.
And for the technically inclined:
- Three levels of caching: I implemented page, action, and fragment caching for the Action Pack
in Rails so I could be able to use it in Ta-da. And its working
exceedingly well. Lots of pages went from 50-70 req/sec to 400-1100
req/sec due to caching.
- 579 lines of code: Thats
including models, controllers, and helpers. Its really lean and really
readable too. It was great to see just how small you can make an
application with a recent version of Rails (especially the 0.9.x
series) on a fresh code base. In Basecamp, Im often working on code
that predates the release of Rails, so its a nice change of scenery.
- Finally FastCGI:
Basecamp is still running mod_ruby for various reasons, but Ta-da is
fresh out the gate on FastCGI. And what a difference it makes in memory
consumption! Were currently running five FCGI
processes (which is more than plenty) that come in at about 15MB a
piece. On top of that, we got 50 Apache processes at just around 3.5MB
a piece. Thats just 250MB for the entire setup. Much unlike the
situation on Basecamp where we have 40-60 Apache processes of 40MB a
In addition, it seems were off to a
flying start as we blew through 1,000 people signed up in just a matter
of hours! And its getting blogged all over the place. Justin French
has a really nice post about how he switched his workflow over. And Tobias Luetke already whipped up a script to integrate Ta-da into your site using Ruby.