Adam Albrecht

independent ruby & javascript developer.

Pre-Filling PDF Form Templates in Ruby-on-Rails with PDFtk

In a recent post, I talked about how to generate PDF reports in Rails using Prawn. This approach is great for generating PDF’s with lots of data tables and other variable-length content. But an alternative situation is when you already have a template authored in an application such as Adobe Acrobat and you want to populate it with data from your database. This makes it more difficult to insert variable-length content, but on the plus side, you no longer need to worry about the layout of the document.

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A Better Onboarding Experience in your Angular.js Application

“Onboarding” is one of those things we sometimes forget about when developing an application, but it really deserves more attention. Showing the user how to use your app can be critical in retaining them. Some people might say that if you need onboarding, your app just needs to have a better UX, but I don’t think this is practical in all situations, particularly complex business applications.

For my current Angular app, I wanted a nice way to point out and explain the various features of the application right after signup. I looked through a few javascript plugins such as Tourist.js, Guiders.js, and a few others, but none seemed to work well with angular, so I decided to write my own, which I’m calling ngOnboarding.


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Generate Clean, Testable PDF Reports in Ruby/Rails with Prawn

I generally hate PDF’s. The file format is complex and designed to mimic physical paper documents, which really has little to do with the web. But unfortunately, PDF’s are still very common and often expected, particularly when working on businesses applications. I have a legacy ruby-on-rails application with a number of PDF reports and I recently took the time to refactor them in a clean and testable manner. Here’s how I went about that process:

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How to Create a Simple Modal Dialog Directive in Angular.js

Modals are Easy

I’ve used a dozen or so modal / lightbox plugins over the years, almost exclusively jQuery-based. But you know what I didn’t realize until fairly recently? Modals are easy to build yourself from scratch. So let’s make one in the Angular fashion.

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A Better Date Picker in Angular.js

I wasn’t particularly happy with any of the datepicker directives out there for Angular.js, so I decided to build one myself. I did it out of a need on my current project but also because I wanted to learn the ins and outs of directives. You can find the library on Github.

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