Open Source Social Network Apps for Rails

I’ve been looking for a Rails example app that demonstrates “best practice” development techniques and provides basic features, to be used as a “skeleton” starting point for development of a new project.

I’m primarily interested in finding an app that is written for Rails 2.0, that implements a RESTful architecture, and uses RSpec for specifications/testing. Optimally, it should implement authentication (using restful_authentication) and authorization, provide an interface for users to manage their accounts (or profiles), and provide a rudimentary administrative interface for adding or deleting users. I’ve looked at a number of open source apps (see the post Survey of Rails Example Applications).

There are three open source social network apps for Rails that come close to fulfilling my requirements. I’ll compare them here.

LovdbyLess is a social network platform from the development firm Less Everything. It is hosted on GitHub at stevenbristol/lovd-by-less. It is RESTful and uses Rails 2.0 but not RSpec or restful_authentication.

RailsCoders is the example app from the book Practical Rails Social Networking Sites, published by Apress. It’s a full-featured app and it is RESTful. The author chose to implement his own authentication (using RESTful principles) rather than using the restful_authentication plugin. The app was written for Rails 1.2.3, not Rails 2.0, but an upgrade is relatively easy. It has Test::Unit tests but not RSpec specifications/tests. As of April 11, 2008, it is hosted on GitHub at abradburne/railscoders, where the author has begun work on a new version of the app.

The authors Michael Hartl and Aurelius Prochazka built a social network app named RailsSpace for a book of the same name. RailsSpace doesn’t meet my minimal requirements (not Rails 2.0, not RESTful, no RSpec) but Michael Hartl is taking the lead in developing a new social network app named Insoshi, which improves on RailsSpace. It is hosted on GitHub and development has been funded by Y Combinator, a venture capital incubator. Insoshi is a Rails 2.0 app, full-featured and RESTful, uses restful_authentication and RSpec, and thus meets my requirements.


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