It is no secret that location has become ubiquitous. Mobile GPS, available data sets, and easy-to-use mapping services have brought geospatial information within reach of web developers. Location already plays a significant role in many of the major services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google, not to mention legions of startups.
However, for those of us implementing more than the most trivial features, it is also true that location is challenging. A significant learning curve awaits us, involving spatial databases, coordinate systems, interchange formats, and plenty of math. Our Ruby-based tools lag a bit behind those available to our Java- and Python-oriented colleagues, and effective documentation is scarce.
This presentation aims to jump-start Rails developers hoping to go beyond putting a few pushpins on a Google Map. Rather than spending a lot of time explaining the many concepts involved, we'll bypass the learning curve and jump straight into walking through code for a few nontrivial applications. The hope is that the conceptual knowledge will come naturally as a result of seeing it in action, but pointers to online resources will also be provided to fill in any gaps.
A thorough understanding of Ruby, Rails, ActiveRecord, and SQL will be assumed. No prior knowledge of GIS or computational geometry will be required, though it may be helpful.