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README

== Welcome to the SaaS Rails Kit

This kit will help you get a quick start on building new web
applications that need a recurring billing component and have
multiple plan levels that are charged at varying rates. Typical
examples of this kind of Rails application are the services
offered by 37signals: Basecamp, Backpack, etc.

The kit comes configured to allow customers to paid accounts with
a 1 month free trial without collecting payment information.
Emails are sent to remind customers when a trial account is about
to expire, when the plan level gets changed, when payment is made,
and when an account is canceled.

Though there is an active? method in Account, the method is not
used anywhere in the application. It's up to you to decide what to
do for accounts that are no longer active due to an expired trial
or a failed credit card charge. In my Catch the Best application,
I simply call that method in a before filter and render a template
directing the user to the enter billing information if that method
returns false.

== Getting Started

This code provides a complete, running Rails application. There
are a few things you need to do to get started, though. First, you
should create your databases (by default the app is configured to
use MySQL). Then, you need to create the database tables and load
some initial data, which can be done with the following rake
command on the command line:

rake db:bootstrap

After bootstrapping the database, you'll need to make at least one
edit to the code. In config/environment.rb, you need to specify a
new secret for the cookie session storage. Change line 41 of
config/environment.rb, replacing the secret with the one generated
by this command:

rake secret

Once that's done, you are ready to go. Start up the app and browse
to it in your web browser. Log in with the login test and the
password test, and you'll be logged in as the admin user for a
test customer account.

== Deploying to a Production Server

This kit is designed to be served by a web server configured for
name-based virtual hosting. In my deployments, I point the
"default" configuration at the app so that traffic to any domain
name not explicitly set in my other virtual host sections gets
directed to the application.

For the "public" web site, where one typically has a welcome page,
tour, etc., create a separate virtual host for www.yourdomain.com
or yourdomain.com, and forward all urls that begin with /signup to
the Rails application. You'll notice in config/routes.rb that the
pricing grid, account creation page, and sign-up thank-you page
are all served with urls that start with /signup. If the layout
for your public site will differ from the layout of the
application, add a new layout to app/views/layouts and edit
app/controllers/accounts_controller.rb to change the new, plans,
and thanks actions to use that layout.

The application is written to allow all admins to update their
payment information while logged in to an account, which means
that SSL connections will be attempted for all the subdomains of
your base domain. Unless you want SSL certificate warnings for
your customers, then, you'll need to get a wildcard SSL
certificate. I use GoDaddy to purchase mine: currently $200 per
year. Of course you could rewrite the billing action in
app/controllers/accounts_controller.rb to redirect to a specific
subdomain to avoid the cost of a wildcard SSL cert... feel free to
do so. :)

Make sure you set up a cron job to run script/daily_mailer on a
daily basis. This script does the charging for account renewals
and sends notices of expiring trials.

== Contents

Hopefully you're familiar enough with the basics of Rails that I
don't have to explain what every file in this archive does. If
not, go read some books like Agile Web Development with Rails and
then come back here. With that out of the way, here are some of
the files you'll want to check out:

app/
  controllers/
    users_controller.rb - Here's an example of how you can use
    limits in your application. Notice the before filter to
    enforce the limit, and the include to pull in generic RESTful
    methods. Also notice the scoper method, which is used to scope
    all the finds to the current account (the current_account
    method is defined in ApplicationController). Use this pattern
    throughout your application to make sure users only see the
    data associated with their account.
    
  models/
    account.rb - Near the top of the file you'll notice the Limits
    constant, which is used to set up the various limits you'll be
    checking for plan eligibility and for being able to do various
    things in your app. For example, the user_limit entry in the
    hash checks the count of associated users, and is used to
    create the reached_user_limit? convenience method (right after
    the definition of Limits).
    
    subscription.rb - The Limits constant at the top of this file
    contains the checks that will be executed when an account
    holder attempts to change plans. If the account would exceed
    the limits based on the account's usage, the subscription
    fails validation and its error messages are populated by the
    right-hand side of this hash.
    
    The store_card method is used to authorize and store the
    credit card info with BrainTree. If the account is still in
    the trial period, or is otherwise still current (been charged
    within the last month), the card will just be stored, and the
    next renewal date will be unchanged. Otherwise, the card will
    be charged for the amount that's currently due, and the next
    renewal date will be set to a month in the future.
    
    The charge method is used by the daily_mailer script to bill
    for the subscriptions on the renewal date.
    
  views/
    subscription_notifier/ - All the content for emails sent to
    account owners is here.

config/
  braintree.yml - Login and password provided by BrainTree. Only
  used in the production environment, as the development
  environment is set to use the BrainTree demo account (see
  test/mocks/development/subscription.rb).
  
  config.yml - Some settings for the application, fairly
  self-explanatory.
  
lib/
  authenticated_system.rb - This file, from the
  restful_authentication plugin, has been modified to scope logins
  to the account loaded by the hostname.

  model_controller_methods.rb - Shared controller methods that
  come in handy for RESTful controllers.
  
script/
  daily_mailer - Charges the credit cards for accounts that need
  to be charged and sends emails to owners of trial accounts a
  week before the trial is set to expire.