Spotlight: Noel Rappin (Author)

Hi Noel,

I’m looking forward to your next book on Tailwind CSS!

Do you have any thoughts on StimulusReflex?


I think the Hotwire release is a big step for the Rails ecosystem, it continues along one of Rails key design goals, which is to make common good practices as easy to do as possible and automate repetitive tasks. I kind of think they are going to continue to push forward on how to package client code, I don’t think they see Webpacker in its current form as the final answer. (The most surprising thing to me about the Hotwire release is that it has a zero-config asset pipeline option)

I haven’t gotten much of a chance to use Ruby 3 yet, I’m excited by the performance improvements, and not sold yet on the type system, I suspect the next few releases are going to deal with how the community comes to use types.


I’ve not done much with StimulusReflex. It seems like a reasonable way to automate some common Stimulus behaviors.


thanks! I’ve enjoyed reading your book, Modern Front-End Development for Rails. I’m excited to see the updates :grinning:


Thanks Noel! I would agree with most of what you said too, particularly about types.

Are you doing a book on Tailwind? If so I am sure that will be pretty popular! Also leads me to another question if you have time… where do you do the front end is going? Spotted anything exciting? What do you like about Tailwind? :blush:

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I really hope that the new edition of the book will include a bit of managing state eg. Adding concert tickets to a cart and seeing the increments in tickets bought using the new turbo stuff and stimulus. I think that’s the missing part in many books or tutorials. Thank you for everything you do Noel


Yes, assuming I get some time on it, a short book (75ish pages) on Tailwind will be going into beta the end of January.

As far as front end as a whole, I basically have no idea. Eventually somebody is going to have to figure out a way to make the JS ecosystem less complex, but I’ve been saying that for years, and it just keeps getting more complex, so who knows?

I was very skeptical about Tailwind until I used it on a project. What I like about it most is how easy it is to experiment with it and how relatively easy it is to predict the effects of a change relative to “normal” CSS on a large project. I also like the idea of depending on your code structure to manage CSS duplication, but I do think that raises the possibility of a team getting very tangled in long Tailwind strings that are duplicated mysteriously throughout the code.


Subject to change, but the current plan:

  • Initial Turbo example includes adding concerts to a list of favorites, updated elsewhere on the page, which is functionally similar to a shopping cart.

  • Later, when I introduce ActionCable, it’ll show how a change in tickets from the ticket page updates the schedule page

  • We’ll also do something on the Stimulus page with a complex filter that requires keeping some state in the HTML on the page

  • And the end of the book will take the page that is in React and redo it in Stimulus

I think that should cover what you need? Let me know if there’s something else. Can’t promise, but I do want the book to be useful.



Will there be an update of Rails 5 Test prescriptions for Rails 6 / Rails 7?


It’s really up to Pragmatic, not to me, but absent some very big change in the testing libraries, I’d say it’s unlikely at the moment.


With these new Rails front-end techniques, do your see a path for engineers remaining highly proficient at all parts of the full-stack, or are things still too complex, meaning it’s more likely to continue to see “front end” engineers and more specialised roles?


I’m curious if you have any recommendations regarding the learning progression of your readers. Take someone interested in Rails, who has worked through your books but doesn’t have real production experience yet. Would the next step be to build a Rails app from scratch on one’s own? If so, any advice on defining scope? The boundary between trivial and overly ambitious seems tough to thread.

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Thank you to everyone for your questions and comments! I will be closing out the Author Spotlight contest for Noel Rappin @noelrappin the morning of Feb 11 (EST). All those who posted will be entered to win one of Noel’s books.

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I think it’s going to depend on how teams structure themselves.

There’s still a lot of specialized front-end knowledge about CSS and even about JavaScript that is still needed even if a lot of the work is being done client-side, but I do think the new features make it easier for a small team to cover all the needed expertise.

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I think building your own Rails app from scratch is a great way to go if you have something that you’ll find fun to build, it can be a bit of a slog if it’s not something you are excited about.

I think there’s no way to learn about defining scope other then to try a project and then see what turns out to be ambitious, if it’s for your own thing, then you can structure it how you want and learn what’s hard by doing things. I think I’d try to build one concrete feature at a time, rather than spend a lot of time worrying about long term architecture.

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Howdy readers! Thanks so much for participating. We are closing out the contest on Noel’s spotlight. If you left a comment, you will be entered in the drawing to win one of Noel’s ebooks. Stay tuned. Also if you are interested, author Paolo Perrotta is up next in the spotlight.

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