UI Design on Rails

Ryan Singer (37signals)
General
Location: E145 - E146
Average rating: ***..
(3.77, 26 ratings)

I designed websites freelance for a few years before joining 37signals. Shortly after I joined, we began work on our first product, Basecamp. I’ve since been responsible for Basecamp’s interfaces as well as our other products including Backpack, Campfire and Highrise.

In addition to the rendered UIs, I’m responsible for the health of the underlying code. That means templates, partials, helpers, CSS files, Javascript files and so on. All these parts should be clear and easy to manipulate. I run all our apps locally and work with Rails directly, and I think more designers should know about this way of working and its benefits.

Generally I’d like to share my experience in this role. Two topics come to mind.

First is the relationship between designer and code. 90% of the UI work at 37signals starts in Rails templates and ends there. How does that process work? How does a design go from a sketch to working code in a Rails app? How do the programmers and designers work together on a shared code base?

The other topic involves specific conventions and code from our apps. How are the templates divided into partials and why? What do the helpers look like, when are they written and why? How have RESTful ideas crept into the way we structure such seemingly distant things as CSS files?

I think a brief exposure to these topics would be valuable to both designers and developers in the audience at RailsConf.

Ryan Singer

37signals

I designed websites freelance for a few years before joining 37signals. Shortly after I joined, we began work on Basecamp. I’ve since been responsible for Basecamp’s interfaces as well as our other products including Backpack, Campfire and Highrise.

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