Ebonics for developers: Ruby on Rails

Dion Hinchcliffe wrote an interesting article about Ruby on Rails here. Between the article, and the embedded links the following quotes bug the crap out of me:

  • Ruby on rails is: “a stack that contains components for most Web applications.”

Most. Heh. Wow, that’s really gonna suck when a team is fully invested/committed to Ruby on Rails and they come up with a need for something that’s not in the “stack”. Now, not only does the team need to figure out how to use the new/needed technology but they must also figure out how to integrate the technology into the Ruby on Rails stack. Fun! More work in a project with doesn’t have enough hours already.

  • Ruby makes: “what most people do most of the time extremely easy”

Most…Heh. Ditto

  • 37signals not only built their 5 world-class online applications purely with Ruby on Rails, but they support almost 400,000 users on just 13 servers.”

How vague is that? 400,000 what? Concurrent users with sessions? Doing what? Do you mean 400,000 enrolled users in the database? That’s a sad, “world-class” hardware hog (13 servers). Let me see here, the development is faster with Ruby on Rails (saving money) but they bought 10 more servers than the typical 400,000 enrolled user database needs.

When I put it all together in my head my summary is this: Ruby on Rails is like Ebonics for developers.

Hey, have you heard about the new language taking Web 2.1 by storm? Oh yeah, by storm! It’s called LAZY. What’s really cool about LAZY is that you don’t have to learn Ruby or JavaScript to use AJAX. The LAZY framework wraps Ruby, which wraps JavaScript which makes your AJAX programming a no-brainer. A wrapper, for a wrapper. Truly LAZY!

Ruby on Rails may be easier for development of most Web applications (a quoted 80% by David Heinemeier Hannson) but seriously, the same thing can be done with existing languages. Yes, Ruby on Rails/Ebonics has come to market faster than the other languages and because of that the other languages will be forced to get Web 2.0 savvy quickly. But Ruby on Rails has a lot of work to do on their “stack”. Take .NET for example, let’s say it takes Microsoft 2 years to Ebonicize so that you can do things like program AJAX quickly and easily. Once those Ebonics are in place you have access to a deep and extensive set of libraries that are baked. Ruby on Rails will building their “stack” for many years to come.

2 Responses to Ebonics for developers: Ruby on Rails

  1. Aaron Jensen says:

    OK, I’m going to have to stop you right there. I’m going to be polite when I ask this (listen, you can here the utter, upper-middle class, crusty, polite tone in my voice) but have you done any work in Ruby on Rails?

    I have developed three (partial) applications in my spare time (two property management apps, and a comic book organizer) on Ruby and *it is fantastic*. Why? *Because it abstracts away your entire data layer.* Yup. That’s right. It handles accessing the database *and* creating your data model for you. In essence, the database become the data model. (Wow. That’s a pretty revolutionary idea. (That was my sarcastic voice. Did you hear it?))

    I have no idea the actual, proven productivity benefits of Rails but it certainly feels faster. The apps I have written were each done in about two, eight hour days (which included me learing Rails, too). (They are roughly 50%, 25%, and 10% complete.)

    I don’t have enough experience to say for certain, but that 20% the stack is missing? Well, if you were programming in another language/framework you would be doing that 20% anyway, so why not get the 80% benefit, and do 20% of the work? Also, Ruby is a *very* extensible environment. I have not doubt that modifying/extending/enhancing Rails is no difficult.

    But I *like* the fact that Rails doesn’t try to be everything to everybody.

    If you’re interested, I can give you a walk-through of my apps. Let me know.

  2. Jared says:

    Yes, I think you seem to be missing the point, which is to solve a smaller set of problems more efficiently.

    Kind of like automatic transmission for cars – it makes the kind of driving that most people want to do most of the time easier. Is there no value in that?

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