Getting started with A/Bingo and Rails 3

A/Bingo is a "A/B" or "split" testing framework to try out different text or images (or other things) and see how they perform relative to each other. Vanity is the another a/b testing option for Rails applications, and is probably more popular as of this writing. However A/Bingo is a nice library as well and is perhaps a bit simpler. Ryan Bates did a great job explaining the basic idea and implementation of A/Bingo in a Rails 2 app here, but what about Rails 3?

This article attempts to help people get started with A/Bingo in Rails 3. Assuming you have Rails 3 gems installed, the following commands will generate a new app, install the plugin, and add database tables the plugin uses.

rails create abingo_app
cd abingo_app
rails plugin install git://git.bingocardcreator.com/abingo.git
rails generate abingo_migration
rake db:migrate

I'm using Sqlite3 in development. A/Bingo adds "experiments" and "alternatives" tables, you can verify they are present (rake db:migrate will show them as well) after your migration has run:

sqlite3 db/development.sqlite3
.schema

Next I added the application controller code in the sample instructions. The idea here is to show each user one of the alternatives for the experiment (there can be more than two alternatives), but show the same alternative to the same user across page loads (give them a session, stored as a cookie, or use their database ID to track them). This controller code did not change for Rails 3.

I'm creating a Subscription resource for my app with a RESTful controller that has new and create actions. In the create action I'll record a successful conversion using the A/Bingo bingo! method. Again, this isn't different for Rails 3, except for the routing. Also, if you use the A/Bingo dashboard, you'll need a Rails 3-style route to get to it.

Create a controller for the A/Bingo experiment results dashboard (with no actions):

rails generate controller abingo_dashboard

Include the module from the plugin in app/controllers/abingo_dashboard_controller.rb:

include Abingo::Controller::Dashboard

Add routes for our new controller and the A/Bingo dashboard:

resources :subscriptions, :only => [:new, :create]
match 'abingo(/:action(/:id))', :to => 'abingo_dashboard', :as => :abingo

Now we can create a simple experiment to alter some copy on the site. I'll use a variant of the example Ryan Bates created for the A/Bingo Railscast episode. In my case I'm putting the abingo test code into the new.html.erb template for the Subscription resource. The view code to measure which of the three alternatives creates the most Subscriptions would be the following. For this sample app, clicking the button (which posts to the create action) is a conversion.

<%= button_to ab_test("signup_title", ["Sign up", "Registration", "Free Sign up"], :conversion => 'subscription') %>

Run rm public/index.html and rails server then navigate to http://localhost:3000/subscriptions/new. Verify that multiple page reloads show the same button text. In order to track the conversion, we specify the name of the conversion to the bingo! method in the Subscriptions controller create action.

bingo! 'subscription'

I navigated to http://localhost:3000/subscriptions/new in a couple other browsers (or cleared the cookie storing the session) to create more fake visitor data. Navigating to the abingo dashboard at /abingo. I can see which alternatives converted best within the experiment. Without having a lot of visitor data though, the results aren't that useful. The documentation for A/Bingo talks about how to end an experiment and clean up the code.

I hope this helps you get started with A/Bingo a/b testing in your Rails 3 app.