On Monday 07 December 2009 05:47:11 pm Greg Hauptmann wrote:

> QUESTION 1:  Is there a tool that could assist here?

Probably. I know people have written tools which generate Graphviz charts of 
whole programs. I haven't used these tools, though, especially when there's 
decent documentation -- so listen to the other posters on this one.

>    * Given sample walk throughs of methods hit in which files for a
> given use case (e.g. like how the java IDEs can auto-sequence
> diagrams)

I don't really know what this looks like. Ruby does have a debugger, but as 
you've used a Java IDE before, I assume the concept of a debugger isn't new to 
you.

> QUESTION  2: Should of nothing be available for the above, and tips/
> tricks people have re understanding a new ruby codebase?  (although in
> particular with a rails bent)

Well, there's always playing around in irb -- or script/console, in Rails. 
There's inserting puts and p statements into the code -- with a local branch, 
obviously, so you can revert those.

The best tool, though, is good documentation, and especially, read the specs, 
or the tests. Rails seems to be trying to strongly encourage TDD, which means 
that every intended behavior should have a descriptively-named test for it. 
This will at least give you an idea of how the code is intended to be used, 
and that's the very first thing you'll need before trying to understand how it 
works.