News, ideas and randomness

Easy Job Boards Rebrand

Posted: January 2nd, 2009 | Author: Scott Barnham | Filed under: Easy Job Boards | Comments Off

We launched our hosted job board product a couple of months ago under the name “Fuselagejobs”. Much as we liked the name and plane logo, it’s not obvious from the name that it’s an easy way to have your own job board.

Today we changed to easyjobboards.com with a fresh new logo and more obvious domain name. We hope this will be much clearer to people who are looking for a hosted job board solution. We chose “easy” to emphasise one of our key goals: make it easy for non-technical folks to start and run a job board.

We have many improvements in the pipeline and we’d love to hear your suggestions.


Handling Subdomains in Django

Posted: December 12th, 2008 | Author: Scott Barnham | Filed under: Django | 1 Comment »

This is the first part of our series on some of the more interesting tech we’ve developed for Red Robot Studios. We’re working from webserver up, so we thought that subdomains would be a good place to start.

Subdomains are useful when you want to host multiple sites with the same code and different data. For example, providing websites for clubs where each club has its own subdomain. In Django, you could have a Club model and some associated models holding data. When a user visits alpha.example.com, you want to show the data from the Club model instance for alpha.

DNS Subdomains and Wildcards

You could add individual subdomains using DNS CNAMEs or A records, but if you want to generate objects in your Django app on the fly, have a look at wildcards. To match any subdomain you add “*” as a subdomain. It looks something like:

*.example.com 14400 IN A 208.77.188.166

This will match www.example.com as well as alpha.example.com, beta.example.com, etc.

Webserver Wildcards

The webserver config needs a similar setting so it knows to respond to any subdomain.

In Nginx, it looks something like:

server {
    listen       208.77.188.166:80;
    server_name  example.com *.example.com;
...

In Apache:

<VirtualHost 208.77.188.166>
    ServerName example.com
    ServerAlias *.example.com
...

If you want to use SSL certificates on your subdomains, you need to get a “wildcard subdomain certificate”. They cost more than a regular certificate, but are necessary to provide a valid certificate for any subdomain on your site. We go ours from RapidSSLOnline.

This should be enough config for your Django app to receive requests for any subdomain. Now your Django app needs to respond appropriately for each subdomain.

Getting the Subdomain in Django

There are a few different ways to do it, but we went with a piece of middleware that gets the subdomain from the request and retrieves a matching model.

We have added two additional settings: DOMAIN_MIDDLEWARE_MODEL and DOMAIN_MIDDLEWARE_INSTANCE_NAME to our settings.py so we can specify the model which the middleware queries, and the name which the instance is given when added to our request instance.

DOMAIN_MIDDLEWARE_MODEL = 'core.Club'
DOMAIN_MIDDLEWARE_INSTANCE_NAME = 'club'

The model is assumed to have a field named “slug”, which the middleware uses to match the subdomain against an instance of the model.

Right, so let’s create our middleware:

class DomainMiddleware(object):
    """Gets the correct instance of an application-specific model by matching the
    sub-domain of the request."""

    def __init__(self):
        self.site_domain = Site.objects.get_current().domain
        if self.site_domain.startswith('www.'):
            self.site_domain = self.site_domain[4:]
        self.SUBDOMAIN_RE = re.compile(r'^(?:www\.)?(?P<slug>[\w-]+)\.%s' % re.escape(self.site_domain))
        try:
            app_name, model_name = settings.DOMAIN_MIDDLEWARE_MODEL.split('.', 2)
            self.model = get_model(app_name, model_name)
            self.instance_name = settings.DOMAIN_MIDDLEWARE_INSTANCE_NAME
            assert self.instance_name
        except (AttributeError, AssertionError):
            raise ImproperlyConfigured('DomainMiddleware requires DOMAIN_MIDDLEWARE_MODEL and DOMAIN_MIDDLEWARE_INSTANCE_NAME settings')

In our init method we do some basic setup like creating a regex which will match the subdomain slug, and loading in our model using django.db.models.get_model with the app.model args from DOMAIN_MIDDLEWARE_MODEL.

    def process_view(self, request, view_func, view_args, view_kwargs):
        """If domain is not main site, check for subdomain.

        Get the model from the subdomain slug.
        """
        port = request.META.get('SERVER_PORT')
        domain = request.META.get('HTTP_HOST', '').replace(':%s' % port, '')
        if domain.startswith('www.'):
            domain = domain[4:]
        if domain != self.site_domain:
            match = self.SUBDOMAIN_RE.match(domain)
            if match:
                slug = match.group('slug')
                instance = get_object_or_404(self.model, slug=slug)
            setattr(request, self.instance_name, instance)
        return None

In process_view we grab the subdomain from the HTTP_HOST header of the request, and using get_object_or_404 we load the correct instance of the model and set it as an attribute on our request object with the name given in DOMAIN_MIDDLEWARE_INSTANCE_NAME.

When someone goes to alpha.example.com the middleware picks out alpha and gets the Club instance with slug=alpha and adds it to request to be used in views.

The middleware uses Site.objects.get_current() to get the base URL, so make sure you have Site set up properly or none of your subdomains will match.

The advantage of having the middleware load in the correct instance for you is that your views can simply use the club attribute to access all related data for this club.

def index(request):
    members = request.club.members.approved().order_by('-creation_date')
    return list_detail.object_list(
        request                 = request,
        queryset                = members,
        template_name           = 'club/index.html',
        template_object_name    = 'member'
    )

This is extremely useful when you want to ensure that your data is correctly filtered: you don’t need to have each view filter based on the subdomain, which is pretty error-prone, and if you get it wrong a user’s data would end up on someone else’s page. This way is a lot simpler.


Job Boards now with Submit, Analytics and API

Posted: December 2nd, 2008 | Author: Scott Barnham | Filed under: Easy Job Boards | Comments Off

Instead of launching a separate version of Fuselagejobs we decided to tighten our focus and add new features to the existing job boards.

  • You can now allow visitors to submit job listings to your job board. If you approve the job listing, it will be displayed on your job board.
  • We’ve improved the management interface where you can add and manage jobs and contact details.
  • You can now use Google Analytics to track visitors to your job board.
  • We added a lightweight JSON API to make it easier to display your jobs on other websites. Widgets coming soon.
  • We’re confident these new features make the job boards more useful and better value. We’d love to hear your feedback on these changes or anything you’d like to see.
  • Get your own job board now on Fuselagejobs – it’s free to try.


Why we launched a Job Board app

Posted: December 2nd, 2008 | Author: Scott Barnham | Filed under: Easy Job Boards | No Comments »

Our first product is Fuselagejobs which lets you easily start your own job board and list job vacancies online. It might seem like a strange choice for a hosted web application. Job listings have been on the web for a long time and there are established big players as well as open source alternatives. So where do we fit in?

Big Players

The big job databases have lots of traffic, lots of employers and lots of candidates. They list jobs from different industries and rely on search to find what you are looking for. That’s ok, but maybe not the best way for candidates to find interesting jobs and for employers to find the best candidates. It all seems very big and impersonal.

Niche Job Boards

Small job boards that target an industry niche or geographical area are becoming popular. We saw great success with Djangogigs, a job board for web developers who use the Django framework. That’s a good example of a tightly-focussed industry niche. It was launched over a year ago and has had over 500 jobs submitted so far. It quickly became the de facto place for employers to post job ads and candidates to look for work in that niche.

Many of the large blogs and other websites with a lot of users have started their own job boards as a way of helping their community and generating some revenue. The jobs are focussed enough that they are interesting to the website regulars. Employers pay to advertise knowing the people who see their job adverts are the type of candidates they’d like to attract.

DIY for non-geeks

So why not use one of the open source packages to set up your own job board? You could if you have the technical skills or have staff to do that for you. If you don’t want to wait for the IT guys or in-house developers to get round to it, Fuselagejobs is a good alternative. It’s easy to use, requires no technical skills and is fully hosted. Just sign up and start adding jobs within minutes.

Innovation

A basic job board is pretty easy to develop, but we think there’s room for innovation to make it easier for the right candidates to find the right jobs. As always, we’re keen to hear your feedback on what you’d like job boards to do for you.

So that’s why we launched a job board app!

Check out Fuselagejobs and create your own job board for free.


Job boards made easy

Posted: October 20th, 2008 | Author: Scott Barnham | Filed under: Easy Job Boards | Comments Off

We’ve just launched Fuselage which lets you create your own job board.

Each job board has its own website with admin interface and is hosted by Red Robot Studios. It’s very easy to get started and there’s nothing to install – all you need is a modern web browser.

Niche job boards are taking off. A niche job board brings together people with specific skills or located in a particular area. We know from past experience that a focussed community can build around a job board leading to higher quality candidates and more relevant job listings – a win-win situation for employers and candidates.

Fuselage fills the need for people who want to create their own niche job board or for companies or recruiters who need a simple way to list jobs online.

Fuselage is the first app to be released by Red Robot Studios and we have high hopes for it. In the coming weeks we’ll be adding new features and releasing different packages.

If you’re interested in job boards, you can try Fuselage for free.


Better software with less hassle

Posted: October 10th, 2008 | Author: Scott Barnham | Filed under: Ethos | Comments Off

There’s a lot of software around, but sometimes it causes more problems than it solves. Installing, configuring and maintaining software distracts you from your business. Finding the right software is a significant time investment in itself.

There’s a better way. We’re pleased to announce the launch of Red Robot Studios Ltd. Our mission is to give you better software with less hassle.

  • Easy to try
  • Quick to get started
  • Does what you need without a lot of distractions

Our software is web-based and hosted, so there’s nothing for you to install. You just need a web browser. Try it. If it’s not right for you, adiós. If it does what you need, you can use the software to help run your business and leave us to take care of upgrades, backups and security.

Red Robot Studios Ltd is the brainchild of Andrew Gleave and Scott Barnham, two entrepreneurial software developers from the UK (Isle of Man). With years of experience developing for the web, we have the skills to back up our vision.

Our first product is Fuseleage: an easy way for you to run a niche job board. A niche job board brings together people with specific skills or located in a particular area. Better candidates, more relevant jobs. Use it to advertise positions for your company or organisation, or target a niche and sell job listings to employers for profit.

Thanks for stopping by. We’re hard at work on some better software with less hassle, so don’t be a stranger.