Monday, May 3, 2010

Setting up Sinatra and DataMapper on Windows

I use a MacBook Pro for work and pleasure on a day-to-day basis. Recently, I was asked to teach web students at a local high school. These students know html/graphics/flash/etc. The advanced students were ready for some server-side programming and database integration. I wanted the students to be able to get up and going quickly (for motivation reasons) and to create useful apps (using a database). I felt Sinatra to be a great fit for this. I created a Sinatra app for my uncle and his business. It was a joy to work with it and I was able to deploy quickly using Heroku.
My experience of using Sinatra on my Mac was straightforward. Like most things using Ruby and Mac: it just worked. However, I found out the students at the high school use MS Windows. Fortunately, I have a Windows XP virtual machine running in VMWare so I could prepare that way. I used to teach computer science and web development at Spokane Community College and am aware of teaching Ruby in a Windows lab environment. Things can get tricky at times - and preparing a Sinatra app on Windows XP was a little tricky.
Here I am to quickly document what I can about setting up Sinatra on a Windows environment.

  1. Grab the installer and install Ruby:
  2. Install Sinatra from the Command Prompt:
    1. c:> gem install sinatra
  3. Install sqlite3
    1. Go to and download the Precompiled Binaries for Windows:
    2. Unzip and look for these files. Copy them into the Ruby bin directory path c:\ruby\bin
      1. sqlite3.exe
      2. sqlite3.dll
      3. sqlite3.def
    3. Install sqlite3-ruby gem
      1. c:> gem install sqlite3-ruby
  4. Install DataMapper
    1. c:> gem install dm-core
    2. c:> gem install do_sqlite3
  5. Code Reloading:
    1. Sinatra by default does not reload your code while you are editing and saving. Thus you have to restart sinatra server after changes = annoying!
    2. On the Mac I quickly found shotgun for my code reloading needs. However shotgun does not work on Windows. :(
    3. I then found out another gem that does code reloading on Windows: sinatra-reloader whew!
      1. c:> gem install sinatra-reloader
  6. Sinatra starter code:
    1. Put the code snippet (see below) into a file and save as: sinatra_starter.rb
    2. From command prompt, start the sinatra server:
      1. c:> ruby sinatra_starter.rb

I hope this helps get some of you started with Sinatra development on Windows. Please refer to these resources to further your Sinatra knowledge:


  1. Thanks Blake, Brandon here from the HS... Would you follow the same steps as that on a webserver if you were using ruby for a website?

  2. Brandon, if you were setting up your own web server, yes you would follow these steps. Another option is to host your app on a web host like heroku.

  3. Hmmm Okay that looks good :D

  4. Other options for reloading Sinatra apps on windows include using Rack::Reloader. I have also found that using JRuby Rack containers, like Trinidad to be really useful - fast, and you get source reloading for free without having to modify your code to take advantage of it.

  5. richard, sweet! thanks for the suggestion.