OmbuLabs Blog

The Lean Software Boutique

The Need for bin/start

Getting started with a new project should be as simple as possible, even for someone who is not technical. As a maintainer, you must make sure that anyone can clone your project and get it up and running in a few minutes.

After you clone a project, you should follow two steps:

  1. Setup
  2. Start

In this example, the project is a web application, but it works for other projects too.


You should have a small bash script called bin/setup in every project. You could use Ruby for the script if that's what you prefer.

Rails has had a bin/setup since 2014 and so should your project! This is the default ./bin/setup in a Rails application.

Thoughtbot wrote a great article about their bin/setup convention: ./bin/setup

At Ombu Labs, one of our latest bin/setup scripts looks like this:

In order for our script to work, you must have a .env.sample file that has some default values for your .env file. Every project you start must have a .env file with environment configuration. Why? Read here

We use Ruby for our setup script because all of our development environments have been setup with this script: Ombu Labs Setup


If you are using Rails, starting an application is simple:

./bin/rails server

But, what if you want to use something else? Let's say you want to use Sinatra with Shotgun. Then you would need to start the server like this:


If you are using Bundler, then you would need to run it like this:

bundle exec shotgun

What if you want to use Foreman?

 foreman start

You get the point. There are way too many ways to start a web application. We need to standardize this into something flexible like ./bin/start.

One of our latest bin/start scripts looks like this:

From now on, all the web applications that we build at Ombu Labs will be able to get started like this:


It won't matter if we use Foreman, Sinatra, Cuba, Rails, Shotgun, or whatever. bin/start will know how to get the application started in a development environment.


I love how simple it can be to tell anyone to clone the project and run these steps:

cd path/to/project

A web designer that has no experience with Ruby/Rails can setup and start a web application in a few minutes.

I'm a big fan of Convention over Configuration. Also, I hate it when it takes me half a day to setup a new application in my environment. It should never take more than a few minutes.