So I have build my first Ruby gem! It is a wrapper for the NYC Farmers Market API.

This project was part of the Learn Verified Full Stack Web Development track I am taking through the Flatiron School. It has been a great learning experience as I’ve had to tackle many new fronts such as creating this blog with GitHub Pages and Jekyll. Seema helped figure out that I need master and gh-pages branches on this repository for this site in order for it to be live. Who knew?! Thank you Seema!

Ok…back to my new gem. So there I was, tasked with magically crafting a Ruby gem that would sort out some information from a web page or an API. I currently live in NYC and am aware that is information available about the city in the from of various APIs. I did a lab that showed me how to parse info from a JSON file. I also did some labs that involved scraping web pages, but I understand that web pages are more likely to change than public APIs, so I decided to seek out an API that provided a JSON file.

I searched through NYC Open Data looking for something that interested me. I ran across a few things peeked my interest but many of them were quite large and/or full of inconsistent data such as location information in the year key…go figure?! I then stumbled upon a nice set of data about farmers markets with most data intact! Eureka!

I had to research a variety of tools to help get this job done. I used the structure of dannyd4315’s Worlds Best Restaurants CLI Gem and the Make Your Own Gem guide from as a jumping off point. I found tigris’s OpenURI with caching gem that helped to reduce the number of times my gem had to contact the API. The colorize gem from fazibear helped to give my CLI some color and pop!

I used open-uri-cached and JSON to turn the .json file into a hash that I could work with:

URL = ""

def get_markets
  content = open(URL).read
  markets = JSON.parse(content)

I created a Market class that I would make instances of for each market.

class NYCFarmersMarkets::Market
  attr_accessor :name, :additional_info, :street_address, :borough, :state, :zipcode, :latitude, :longitude, :website

  @@all = []

  def initialize(name: nil, additional_info: nil, street_address: nil, borough: nil, state: "NY", zipcode: nil, website: nil)
    @name = name
    @additional_info = additional_info
    @street_address = street_address
    @borough = borough
    @state = state
    @zipcode = zipcode
  # more methods...

I had some fun with regular expressions and Rubular while trying to extract websites from the additional_info keys and then get rid of the HTML that was making things messy.

I decided not to use the latitude and longitude keys since they were all the same values, but left the accessors in for future implementation.

Then I thought about how it might be best to let users search for markets. I decided to make methods and CLI commands to display all, list boroughs, display all markets in a borough, display all zip codes, and display all markets in a zip code. I made methods for each of these that iterated through an #all class method and return an array of market instances.

I built command-line interface that I tried to make friendly and easy to look at. I used a simply loop do, prompt, and case statement to handle this. I found a blog post by Ben Gribaudo where I learned that I could test against an array of values! This was really helpful for checking if the user entered a zip code that had a market in it since I was working with 40+ zip codes!

To add more flare to my CLI, I investigated using Unicode symbols, and came across the Ruby Output Unicode Character post on Stack Overflow. By trial and error I discovered that I could encode my character directly into my variable! This made things much cleaner!

vesta = "\u26B6".encode('utf-8')
flower = "\u2698".encode('utf-8')
puts "\n\t #{vesta} Welcome to the Farmers Markets of NYC #{vesta} ".green.underline
print "\t"; 15.times { print "#{flower}  ".light_blue }; puts ""

I spent a good deal of time testing my CLI and looking for places to clean up my code. I remembered the mantra “commit early and often” and so I did! I have 18 commits as of the writing of this post. I tried to use \n for new lines and \t for tabs instead of using puts "" or puts " " where I could. I tried to move my fancy printing code to methods instead of having that done right in the case statement to keep that as dry as possible. I started by displaying the possible commands at every run of my loop but then realized that was too messy as I added commands so I moved that to a help command and the puts code to it’s own method.

I really learned quite a lot here and it was really fun! I am next going to work on getting my gem published and making a walk-through video. I will post the video here when it’s live.