On the rails

This post is more than 17 years old.

Posted at 14:44 on 10 February 2007

I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and get into Ruby on Rails properly.

I must admit there have been a couple of things about Rails that put me off a bit. One of these was the amount of hype surrounding it. I have always been very wary of hype, for the simple reason that it can cloud your judgment and lead you into making rash decisions that you later regret. Another thing that put me off learning Rails was the lack of decent, downloadable documentation — though this is less of an issue now that we have broadband at home. A third thing is that the business case for Rails is still fairly embryonic at present: there are fewer Rails jobs knocking around than .net jobs or PHP jobs, for instance. And on top of that, Joel Spolsky doesn’t like it.

Having said that, Rails is rapidly becoming mainstream. Tiobe Software noted that it was the programming language with the fastest growing community in 2006 (seems it took a massive leap round about November). Besides, the off-the-chart-smart people at ThoughtWorks have thrown their weight behind Rails, and you need to bear in mind that these are some of the people at the cutting edge of research into software development and design patterns, so it must be worth serious consideration. And on top of this, the chief technical architect for one of our most important clients is seriously into Rails, so it looks like it could come in pretty useful.

And what of Joel’s railing against it? Personally, I can’t help but get the impression that it cost him a lot of credibility. (David Heinemeier Hansson described it as “one of the purest forms of FUD I’ve ever seen”.) And when he ended his article by saying that he has his own in-house programming language called Wasabi, a lot of people thought that he had gone off the rails in more ways than one — or at the very least, that he was joking. Unfortunately, he wasn’t.

So I took delivery of the book from Amazon.com yesterday and I’ll be working my way through it over the next couple of weeks or so. Stay tuned.