Modular website with XML-based backend in Rails?

I’ve been asked to find the most appropriate framework with which to
implement the following:

A website with

  1. Modules, which separate (partially user-configurable) style, from
    user settings, from content. A bit like the igoogle modules.
  2. …which can be inserted in various places in a page, depending on
    the user’s preferences, again think netvibes, igoogle, librarything,
    etc.
  3. …which can be inserted via some Ajax magic into an external page.
    No problem if this is limited to “no login” modules only.
  4. Also the whole thing has to have easy interaction with an XML-based
    database and web services. No SQL database available.
  5. …and be easy to use & open source, have many developers who like to
    work with it.

I was thinking (2) is fairly easy to do with a bit of
javascript/scriptaculous, also (3) can probably be added quite easily
with some limitations.

So this leaves mainly
1: Is there a standard way in rails, or a package, to easily render a
basic look of a module, with user settings and style in a standard way?
Support for skins? Anything that can help here?
4: I know it’s easy to make web services in Rails, but can you replace
the entire ‘model’ with something so different?

If you know any other solutions than Rails that would work here, I’d
also like to hear them. I’m not expecting there is a full solution
available anywhere, but mostly looking for modules etc. which can help
to do part of this. The focus here is on quickly getting something out
and then drawing in other open-source developers for more modules.

Are you possibly looking at a CMS? Have you looked at Ruby-based
BrowserCMS, which has the ability to create Portlets that you can
embed in a page?

Wayne

On Jul 5, 4:57 pm, Sander L. [email protected]

Most of the content will be dynamic, and CMS systems usually focus on
static content made by non-technical users. Still I didn’t know about
BrowserCMS, which looks quite useful anyway. Mostly worried about
whether forms etc. submitted in such a module would update only that
particular module.

Which leaves mainly the point about whether Rails can live without an
SQL database and how well it can use other data sources.

Wayne Simacek wrote:

Are you possibly looking at a CMS? Have you looked at Ruby-based
BrowserCMS, which has the ability to create Portlets that you can
embed in a page?

Wayne

Sander L. wrote:

Which leaves mainly the point about whether Rails can live without an
SQL database and how well it can use other data sources.

Yes, it can live with a SQL database. You’ll need to tinker with a
couple of Rakefiles but otherwise it’s no problem. Google is your
friend.

If you consume Rails-style RESTful web services with ActiveResource,
then that’ll be super-easy. If you want to consume XML-RPC or SOAP web
services, then that can be done too but you’ll stray further from the
ActiveRecord idiom. That needn’t be a problem. Generally, Rails is great
at consuming all kinds of web services.


Roderick van Domburg
http://www.nedforce.com

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