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Spontaneous Clarification

It struck me a few days ago when I spoke another individual in the Rails ecosystem that my previous post was probably a bit misleading as to my real thoughts.

For one, I'd like to more clearly distance myself from most of Zed Shaw's comments — he spoke largely about the people and the community, and I have had no encounters, good or bad, with them. I certainly don't want to be seen as (read as?) having those same feelings. Blasting people, whether publicly or privately, is never cool by me, and I fear that by having linked to his post I have blasted them as well. I would like to emphasize that his words are his, not mine.

As a second point, I do have concerns about Rails on a technical level, but even there, my concerns are not the same as Zed's concerns, although I certainly can appreciate what he has to say on this topic. I do plan to write more about my specific technical concerns in the coming weeks, in the form of what I hope will be a fair comparison with Django, but in the mean time, let me itemize a few really good things about Rails:

  • When Rails appeared on the scene two-and-a-half years ago, it was light-years beyond any other platform out there, especially compared to the hopelessly backward environment I was using.
  • ActiveRecord is the coolest Object-Relational Mapper I've ever seen, and it made complete sense to me, a database geek. I could generally avoid SQL and opt instead for a more object-oriented paradigm, but the SQL was never layered so far away that I couldn't understand what was going on behind the scenes.
  • Many of Rails's philosophies and the philosophies behind Rails make a lot of sense: convention over configuration, integrated testing, don't repeat yourself, agile development, etc. I love seeing so many of my own values as a programmer reflected in a development environment to this extent.

  • It has a huge international community, which gives me fun excuses to go to Europe to visit friends and go to Rails events.
  • Its developer-base is huge, which means that if anything ever happens to me, my customers aren't stuck. They will be able to find someone who can take over.
  • Web development is fun again, thanks to Rails' arrival.

Rails is the benchmark that every other web development environment compares itself to. That is no small feat, and it is not without good reason. At the very least, even with my technical concerns, Rails shifted the game and web development has moved a giant step forward as a result.

Tagged agile, openacs, rails, and web development.
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