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Programming IT Technology

Thinking about Rails? Think Again 482

wolfeon writes "In 2005, Derek Sivers of CD Baby wanted to scrap his site and perform a rewrite in Rails. He hired Jeremy Kemper, also known as bitsweat on Freenode, to help on the project. Two years later, through blood and sweat, the project was then canceled because of limitations of Rails. Rails just wasn't meant to do everything since it is very much "canned" project. Mr. Sivers has written an entry in the O'Reilly blog: 7 reasons I switched back to PHP."
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Thinking about Rails? Think Again

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  • What a waste of time. Evaluate and use new technology on new tasks.

    One of my main customers hired a good team in Vietnam who used PHP, CSS, HTML, and Javascript. I introduced them to Rails a year ago, and they were just about instantly productive.

    Deploying Rails can be a small hassle, but there are now lots of good options, including running on JRuby/Goldspike/Java app server.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23, 2007 @10:00AM (#20718765)
      This reminds me of a similar incident I saw on Reddit a few months ago:

      Sometimes it's best to leave old software systems alone.
      http://pinderkent.blogsavy.com/archives/88 [blogsavy.com]

      Last night at the pub, a friend and colleague of mine was telling me of a recent experience he had at a company he was doing some IT work for. I think the lesson learned is a very important one, and thus I wish to share it. But first I'll describe the situation he encountered.

      In the mid-1990s, the company in question built their IT operations around systems from Sun. They wrote much of their in-house code using C++, and used Oracle for their database needs. On the front-end, they used PCs running a mix of Windows NT 3.51, FreeBSD 2.x, and even OS/2, depending on the department. While that is not a unique setup by any means, what is somewhat unique is that they essentially continued to use those same systems up until 2006.

      One of the main reasons why they didn't switch is because their software systems worked just fine, even if the UIs were somewhat archaic. Their software was mature and well-understood by the company's employees. They even got extremely lucky in the first place, as the developers who initially designed and implemented their software systems did so in a way that allowed for the systems to easily scale as the need arose over time.

      The hardware proved to be the main instigator of change. After a decade, many of the front-end PCs they were using started to exhibit a variety of physical problems. Some had been replaced earlier, but eventually it was decided to replace them all with newer systems. However, to the best of my friend's knowledge, the back-end Sun systems were working just fine.

      However, at the same time they decided to also replace the back-end systems. A variety of consultants were apparently called in to appraise the situation. For whatever reason, it was eventually decided that the new back-end systems would be built around Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005. The new back-end software was to be built upon .NET, while Web-based client-side apps would be developed and used. My friend wasn't sure exactly when this effort started, but he believed it was in early 2006.

      By the end of 2006, the consultants and developers deemed the new system ready to go. Over the course of the December 2006 holidays, the new systems were rolled out. It turned out to be a pretty major disaster. The first problem they ran into was a complete lack of performance. As they moved into the first weeks of 2007, their back-end systems just wouldn't scale. As an emergency fix, they ended up throwing more hardware at the problem, which did ease the burden on the existing servers somewhat. But it was in no means a permanent solution.

      The front-end software systems proved to be an even bigger disaster. Many of the AJAX-based applications used Internet Explorer-specific functionality. But the IT managers of some of the front-end networks would not allow IE to be used, for security reasons. They only allowed for Firefox to be used. So the Web-based front-end software needed significant modifications right away, as well.

      What was perhaps the worst failure involved the in-house users and their productivity. Large portions of the old system were built around a curses-based UI. Although it apparently wasn't very pretty, it did allow for a great deal of user productivity. One of the main complaints about the new Web-based software was that the keyboard support was quite poor, requiring the user to select input fields using the mouse, and at times even having to scroll the page to input or manipulate certain data. With the earlier system, the nagivation could rapidly be performed using just the keyboard. Some of the more experienced users were apparently so efficient with the older system that their productivity was reduced to 25% of what it was before the switch.

      My friend and his colleagues were called in to try to
      • by man_of_mr_e ( 217855 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @11:46AM (#20719497)
        I disagree with the vast majority of those points. The only two that I agree with is giving consideration to scalability and getting user feedback. The rest are illogical conclusions based on a failed project whos real failure was poorly specified requirements.

        Certainly, Web UI's are not appropriate for everything. They should really only be used if there is some overpowering need (like the ability to access the data from anywhere without having client apps installed). They also apparently gave zero thought to existing processes and staff skillsets.

        Avoiding AJAX or any other technology because you tried to use it for something it wasn't good at is patently stupid. There are good uses for the technologies. This just wasn't one of them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Slippy. ( 42536 )
        The big problem with flavor-itis in large projects is the years of support after. Time tested solutions people!

        Once a company gets committed to a design decision made by an trendy-entranced developer, the sysadmins and users can get punished with years of suffering afterwards.

        The tools stop being updated, and none of the *good* developers want to care for the ugly, unique application once the shine comes off the tools. It's like being forced to wear a magic top hat made out of steel - because top hats and
      • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @12:08PM (#20719693)
        I thoroughly agree with you on this one. Unfortunately, I stand alone when I ask a question like, "What has a GUI added to this system? Why wasn't a text-base solution sufficient?" People think I am some kind of lunatic if I propose a non-AJAX/Application Server/wiz-bang solution to a problem. I understand that sort of mentality from end-users, but from programmers?

        My advice is to analyze the needs of the system before designing it. Don't assume a GUI or AJAX front end is the best possible way to do things. My favorite example is the library system in my county: their computers are using a console system for check in/check out, card processing, etc. The beauty of it is that the bar code scanner they use behaves like a keyboard, so that each scan is just a series of a numeric keystrokes following by an end-of-line. It is simple, the 80 year old librarians have no problem using it, and it doesn't require any difficult to coordinate mouse movements (as anyone who has studied this knows, using the mouse requires a lot of brain activity than using the keyboard). The console very accurately maps the workflow; a GUI wouldn't add very much, other than sheer lines of code, and a web interface would actually slow down the people who need to use it.

        Sure, there are cases where a GUI or web interface is better than a console interface. But that is why an analysis is needed before any code is written. As your friend's situation demonstrates, a well design system can work for many years without any trouble.

      • by u38cg ( 607297 ) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Sunday September 23, 2007 @12:09PM (#20719709) Homepage
        The biggest problem, as I see it, is that the people who make major strategic decisions on IT don't have a clue what they are talking about. It's happening in my company right now - a consultant is being paid vast amounts of money to essentially write an ERP from scratch, for a company that doesn't need anything more complex than a decent accounting package that can handle more than one operating site. The guy is being paid a monthly fee and has no written specification or brief. He has no deadline and no agreed feature set. On a regular basis he turns up and spouts off his latest idea, solving a problem we don't have. The bosses, who know their business but don't know technology, are completely clueless and are pretty much at the whim of this chancer.
      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Sunday September 23, 2007 @01:10PM (#20720175) Journal

        Sometimes it's best to leave old software systems alone.
        If you can afford the time and effort, trying something new almost always produces some benefit.

        The only failed experiment is the one you don't try.

        Clearly, someone thought there would be a benefit to using Rails over PHP in this case. If they were wrong, they gained valuable insight into a) the abilities of their tools and b) the nature of their project.

        I never liked the old saying "if it's not broke, don't fix it". The quest for innovation is a beautiful thing.
        • by Rakishi ( 759894 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @02:10PM (#20720645)
          BS, you're apparently incapable of understanding the real world.

          If you can afford the time and effort, trying something new almost always produces some benefit.
          And if you are omnipotent you can move mountains, in the real world (not whatever fantasy YOU live in) everything is a trade off against time and money. Nothing has infinite resources and apparently you think everything does.

          If they were wrong, they gained valuable insight into a) the abilities of their tools and b) the nature of their project.
          And it cost them likely millions of dollars, probably tens of millions if you add everything into it.
      • ...stupid decisions based on myth over reality. You have front end people making decisions about browser security in utter discord with back end choices made for functionality. You have redesign of existing functional systems without starting back at the design specification. You have scale failures because you didn't test your nonexistent spec. for scale.

        I'm glad I don't work there.

      • by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @04:26PM (#20721705)
        I just can't understand how your input data makes you assume your conclussions. Except from the "why change a system already working just OK?" which I'm 100% with you, I extract very different ones from your provided data:

        "In the mid-1990s, the company in question built their IT operations [...] They wrote much of their in-house code"

        I read here: in the mid 90s the company built a tailor-made IT system engineered by their internal knowledgeable technical staff.

        "what is somewhat unique is that they essentially continued to use those same systems up until 200what is somewhat unique is that they essentially continued to use those same systems up until 2006."

        We know their staff was knowledgeable and that the system fitted well their needs from the simple fact that it managed to work about 15 years without major complains.

        "One of the main reasons why they didn't switch is because their software systems worked just fine"

        Exactly what I was saying.

        "They even got extremely lucky in the first place, as the developers who initially designed and implemented their software systems did so in a way that allowed for the systems to easily scale"

        Do you think that's "luckyness"? That properly scalable systems grow up "per chance"? No: it was properly designed, that's why the system scaled, not because "luck".

        An now, for the problems:

        "A variety of consultants were apparently called in"

        I read here: A variety of *external* resources that surely couldn't know the bussiness better than their old internal counterparts (things cannot be done much better than "OK", and that was the standard to beat), and that surely held their own agendas (like pushing the technologies they are knowledgeable about, instead the ones that best fitted, if only because the old "for a man with only a hammer every problem seems a nail", if not worse, "Certified Microsoft Gold Partner That Gains Money Every Time Microsoft Technologies Are Pushed Into A Client") were in place to design the new system.

        And this is the very and only problem: By the 90's they had knowdledgeable internal staff. By 2006 they went to external unfitted consultors. I bet there's an untold story here that includes those "so expensive" Solaris sysadmins and C++ developers that were fired by a "smart" manager looking for profit. All the particular problems you outlined are not problems but consecuencies of this. Of course the new web-based GUI could be Firefox-tested -if knowledgeable people were in charge. Of course the new web-based GUI could make use of proper keyboard-based navigation -if knowledgeable people were in charge. Of course that the proper ammount of iron could have been pushed on the backed (specially after 15-more years of stats and usage-patterns) -if knowledgeable people were in charge.

        No one of them are strictily speaking problems with AJAX, or Windows, or dot-net, or whatever the technology (while going from a perfectly working C++/Unix environment to an all-and-only-Microsoft is a very hard hint about management going nuts). All of them can be pointed out to a very common tendency on IT: fire the old knowledgeable technicians that put the means for the company to grow and stay there in first place and contract cheap minions and expensive external consultants as substitutes; then look as a very smart manager that saves the company some pennies; then the obvious "???" and finally the "wreak havoc" instead of "profit".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Evets ( 629327 ) *
        I think some of the other major lessons are as follows:

        * Use mature, well-tested, effective software (eg. Solaris, Oracle, FreeBSD).
        Absolutely, and this should be a given but it isn't always.

        * Avoid immature fad "technologies" like AJAX.
        There are plenty of people here who would defend AJAX and blame the developers for a poor implementation, but really the point to be made is that if you are goin
    • by tacocat ( 527354 ) <tallison1@NOSpAm.twmi.rr.com> on Sunday September 23, 2007 @02:57PM (#20721043)

      Ruby is nice, Rails has some severe limitations on what it can do without major hacks.


      Business Model versus Business Rules

      There is a distinction between the Rules and the Model. Rules are those things that must be enforced against the data. Examples of this would be (in database terms) referential integrity, unique values for certain fields or combination of fields.

      Without this distinction you can easily run into rampant data duplication and your ability to determine what is actually going on becomes a major challenge. Rails fails on this enforcement of the rule because when you identify something as being unique according to Rails, it's managed by a Model declaration to check for uniqueness before making an UPDATE/INSERT SQL execution. Problem with this is you are assuming that you have only one active rails session at a time. If you don't, then it's trivial for two web sessions to insert the same username in the table, thereby fucking your database and your business. Without the database actually enforcing the data through database constraints, you cannot guarantee the results.

      Things get even more difficult/tricky when you have to ensure that combinations of fields remain unique or referential constraints are preserved.

      I'm know there is some way to do all of this in Rails, but it's counter productive and essentially a hack. For example -- I would have to create additional unique SQL constraints in the database migration files, in some cases, I have to write out the SQL directly -- bypassing that which is Rails. Then the Model would not only have to run the extraneous SQL statement to check for uniqueness, but also be modified to accomodate the error handling that is going to happen when you violate the database integrity. Again, this makes for a lot of non-Rails and non-elegant code.

      Don't get me wrong, Rails is nice but it is not really going to be a useful product for some major site that is going to just get crushed in transactions. Do you really think you can open the next MySpace and have it keep all the data properly synchronized? I know it's possible to get around the application rules of the Model, so I know it's also likely to muck up your data.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jadavis ( 473492 )
        Examples of this would be (in database terms) referential integrity, unique values for certain fields or combination of fields.

        I agree completely.

        More generally, ActiveRecord does not address any interdependence of the tuples or relations at all (except for a few very common cases where they have no alternative).

        ActiveRecord is essentially a persistence engine at its core, with it's own OODBMS-like API on top (that is not closed over any useful set of operations). It blindly assumes that objects are indepen
      • by kyz ( 225372 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @11:06PM (#20724221) Homepage
        I've now written two large business applications in Rails. I did the UML modelling first. Then I wrote a fully constrained RDBMS schema, normalised to 3NF, using the Rails naming conventions. Then I wrote the Rails app on top of the rigorously constrained database.

        If you want multi-key uniqueness constraints, just define it in your database already! Why do you think Rails prevents you from configuring your database layer?

        When I need to do transactions, I use Rails' full support for transactions [rubyonrails.com]. There, that wasn't so difficult, was it?

        I let Rails save me hours of backbreaking labour writing conventional SQL queries. Then I use the completed application, identify the query bottlenecks (thanks to Rails' built-in profiling) and re-write the slowest of the dumb auto-created SQL using hand-written SQL, which I can get to using find_by_sql [rubyonrails.org], finder_sql [rubyonrails.com], etc. Rails lets you put your own SQL into the application almost anywhere.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tacocat ( 527354 )

          You are obviously very familiar not only with Rails, but databases. Many Rails users are not and there's not much attention paid to the database as a business model enforcement in the Rails "way" of doing things. Specifically, the Ruby on Rails book is way too lean on this subject.

          My first and only Rails convention was a real learning experience. I was outnumbered by easily 20:1 in an argument that counter your statements. The generally accepted concept in that room was that Rails manages everything fo

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kyz ( 225372 )
            Personally, I think Rails has a way to go. I agree with you that it should auto-detect a lot more of the database schema and require much less manual configuration in the model layer and better parsing of database errors. Rails' intention is Don't-Repeat-Yourself by means of making your database schema a first-class citizen in the Ruby language. So future Rails releases will be more along those lines.

            I think the reason it doesn't right now because it was designed to work with MySQL MyISAM tables, which are
      • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Slashdot Parent ( 995749 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @11:54PM (#20724555)
        Referential integrity and unique constraints should always be enforced by the database. Why even have a database if you're not going to use it?

        Perhaps I'm missing something in your post, because it sounds to me like you're advocating every application that accesses the database to enforce data integrity rules. This is a recipe for data corruption, as I'm sure you already know.
  • by RaigetheFury ( 1000827 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @09:25AM (#20718587)
    Every technology out there has it's benefits. It's the job of the person planning the project to explore all of these technologies before they choose one. If you read his article, he makes no comments as to why he chose Ruby on Rails. Was he following the hype?

    I've been involved in the decision making process to choose a technology for writing a site many times. Working for a University common questions we use in comparison to the technology is

    1) Development time
    2) Ability to integrate with LDAP or other existing technologies
    3) Support (server level)
    4) Documenation (For development)
    5) Budget
    6) Number of developers on the project

    Depending on those variables it usually winds up being either PHP or Cold Fusion. Ruby on Rails has never once been a consideration. Not because it isn't a good solution, but it's never once been the best for our needs.
    • by giafly ( 926567 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @10:09AM (#20718821)
      After 30 years development, "How far will it scale" is
      • the question that scares me most,
      • the one that you can never get honest information about from OS or component suppliers,
      • and the one that's hardest to test because the most-used features are rarely those you expected.
      Who said "prototype the thing, assuming a worst-case scenario"? No can do. With server code, this means you leave out features or spend $$$s more on hardware. And with client code such as AJAX, you know anything could break if used alongside idiot third-party widgets or when another IE patch makes Javascript even slower. You just don't know exactly where it will break in practice. So you add a lot of logging and try to spot when the next bottleneck is approaching. Worst case, it's in obfuscated, third-party modules that you can't change in practice, and you're re-factoring masses of code while angry villagers are breaking down the door. This is IMHO a risk with programming frameworks like Ruby on Rails, or MS dotNet for that matter.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mcrbids ( 148650 )

        After 30 years development, "How far will it scale" is

        * the question that scares me most,
        * the one that you can never get honest information about from OS or component suppliers,
        * and the one that's hardest to test because the most-used features are rarely those you expected.

        After my 10 years of development, "How far will it scale" is

        • the question that scares me most,
        • based only on an honest assessment of how I structure the software, and
        • utterly irrelevant to OS or component suppliers

        Seriously - if you want to scale, you need to avoid the Shlemiel the painter's algorithm. [joelonsoftware.com] Avoid this sucker with passion and verve. Hunt for ANY CASE where this algorithm is hard at work, sucking away CPU cycles endlessly towards the abyss of swapped memory, session timeouts, and database deadlock

  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Sunday September 23, 2007 @09:26AM (#20718595) Journal

    After twenty five years watching technology try to not suck, one note rings true from The Fine Article. The new girlfriend always seems better... at first. But over time you'll likely discover she too (as one might expect) has foibles, idiosyncrasies that annoy and sometimes downright frustrate.

    • Thinking about ditching assembler for PL/I? Think again.
    • Thinking about ditching C for Java? Think again.
    • Thinking about ditching Windows for Linux? Think again.
    • Thinking about ditching Cascade methodology for JAD? Think again.

    If you've found a solution to a problem, consider carefully wrapping some other technology around it just because. Unfortunately my experience was that usually new technology/approaches typically were just because, usually driven by management (not always, and I'm not blaming them).

    Had I known then what I know now I'd have fought harder for status quo on a lot of big projects.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by deftcoder ( 1090261 )
      I denno, I ditched Windows for Debian Linux over a year ago and haven't looked back since. (I'm a programmer though, so my needs are a bit different than your typical Windows user)

      Then again, if this article is any indication, maybe I had better wait another year before I speak. :-)
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by MikeBabcock ( 65886 )
        My wife and I ditched Windows for Linux 8 years ago at home. I stopped dual-booting and everything -- no more Windows, period. I still have to use it at work, but my wife didn't for years working in retail. One day, she had to use Windows at work and found it dreadful, I chuckled to myself.

        Yes, some of us are very happy over the long term using Linux. Am I a system administrator? Yes. Do I program? Yes. Am I the average Joe Computer User? No. Does my wife get a free sysadmin with the ability to re
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by garcia ( 6573 )
          My wife and I ditched Windows for Linux 8 years ago at home. I stopped dual-booting and everything -- no more Windows, period. I still have to use it at work, but my wife didn't for years working in retail. One day, she had to use Windows at work and found it dreadful, I chuckled to myself.

          Funny, 10 years ago I ditched Windows (and OS/2) for Linux at home. I stopped dual-booting and everything -- no more Windows, period. I didn't have to use it at work because I was a college student and while I didn't ha
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            I'd just like to point out that the parent is decieving. He's not a programmer. According to his website, "Bill is employed by Century College working on developing new recruitment and retention programs." I seriously doubt that means programs in the slashdot sense.

            He's just pissing in the GP poster's cornflakes; he isn't for real and should be modded appropriately. His only technical qualifications seem to be messing with his own blog, which he describes as "working on the website."

            Don't take my word f
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I do the technical coding for a couple web designers (they make it look pretty and I make it work). Typically their clients have done enough research to have heard some buzz words so a typical conversation goes like this:

      Client: "We'd like our site/new site to be Web 2.0 with AJAX and Rails and....

      Web Designer: "This is the layout I've created with new logo, etc."

      Client: "Ohhh, that's pretty, but I don't like that shade of >, could you make it >, maybe a couple shades darker, but brighter...you

    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @10:01AM (#20718767) Journal
      I really don't understand the point or Ruby. It seems like it's semantically similar to Smalltalk, but with uglier syntax. Is it faster? Apparently not. [debian.org] On average, Ruby is 1/5 the speed of Smalltalk, and in some cases much worse. In only one test was it faster; startup (not important for long-running processes, such as stateful web apps).

      So, we have a slow language, with ugly syntax. The ugly syntax is subjective, so we'll overlook it for now. We have a slow Smalltalk, but maybe the framework makes up for it. Looking at Ruby on Rails, it seems like a cheap clone of the old NeXT WebObjects (cloned as GNUstepWeb and SOPE, uses Objective-C, which is typically faster than Smalltalk), and so far behind something like Seaside [seaside.st] it's not even funny.

      So, why do people use Ruby? Or is it like Java, as Guy Steele said:

      And you're right: we were not out to win over the Lisp programmers; we were after the C++ programmers. We managed to drag a lot of them about halfway to Lisp. Aren't you happy?
      • Try Ruby, code up a project in it after you actually understand the language, and you'll see the draw. For instance, just an hour ago I was writing a quick script to recurse through directories and apply ReplayGain. I had a loop like this:

        Dir.foreach(target) do |entry|
          if File.directory?(entry)
            recurse(target + '/' + entry)

        Later on, just on a whim, I decided I wanted it to sort the dir listing so I could judge how far it was through the process. I only had to change the first line:

        Dir.entries(target).sort().each() do |entry|

        A teensy tiny sript to be fair, but that's just an example that I was able to pull out of the last couple hours, I've done much larger things but it'd be hard to think of a good example. There's nine different ways to do everything, and they all work exactly like you'd expect. There's a million things that allow beautiful constructs, like lambda functions and yield statements, implict reference but easy to do deep copies, it goes on and on. The langugage is just an absolute joy to work with, and I'm saying this as a hard-line strict ANSI C++ programmer--so much so that I still find it hard to make myself use long long.

        The problem is, it's so easy that it attracts people who hardly understand programming. It also makes you want to try out weird new ideas. I've never looked very hard into it, but from everything I've heard about Rails and its almost code-generation level programming I get the impression that it's a great idea that got over-engineered to Frankenstein proportions, like the first home project of any size a fledgling programmer makes. Not saying these guys are that ... just that's what it reminds me of.

        One good measure I try to follow is, if you have to basically learn an entire new language to use your product, be it a framework or a word processor, unless you've purposefully designed it as a language, with all the deep thought that goes into that, you're probably doing something wrong. Really, the yardstick I try to go by is, you should only have to learn one thing to progress further, never two things at once, and it should always be apparent what directions are available. I looked over the Rails documentation and example source, and it doesn't meet that criteria.

        Ruby Isn't Rails. Check out the language, it's a thing of beauty, and it allows you to do things really quickly, really easily, and most importantly, the Right Way without a lot of extra effort (an area C++ fails miserably at, unfortunately). No, it's not the fastest language by a long shot, but haven't we always said that premature optimization is the root of all evil? They can (and in all likelihood will) fix that later. Plus, given how easy it is to add inline C, which can easily interact in both directions, make calls, construct objects, etc... well, when I discovered that it was like I was banging a smoking hot woman, who to be fair is a little slow, and I found the keys to a Porche at the bottom of her vagina.

        • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @11:52AM (#20719551) Journal
          Nice strawman reply. To my question 'why would you choose Ruby over something like Smalltalk,' you replied 'because Ruby is better than C++.' While this is true, most things are better than C++. The only advantage C++ has over languages like Smalltalk, Lisp, Haskell, OCaml or Ruby is execution speed.

          Everything you've said is good about Ruby also applies to Smalltalk, which uses blocks (closures) to implement all control structures, has trivial syntax (the entire language can be defined on a single piece of paper, and taught to small children with no programming experience in a few hours). It's obvious that the choice between Ruby and C++ is not necessarily simple; Ruby has higher-level abstractions, C++ has faster execution speed, so the choice depends on which is important. The question is, why would you choose Ruby over any of the following:

          • OCaml
          • Haskell.
          • Common Lisp.
          • Smalltalk.
          These all have the same high-level abstractions as Ruby (more in some cases). They are all mature languages, and they are all 5-50 times faster in terms of execution speed than Ruby. I understand why you would choose a slow-and-expressive language over a fast-but-less-expressive one, but why would you choose a slow-and-expressive language over a fast-and-expressive one?

          Even Objective-C can do most of what you claim is great about Ruby, and some other things. For example, I have a category which allows me to send messages to arrays as if they were individual objects and have it perform a map operation in Objective-C, and I've implemented futures in the language, and yet I would still choose Smalltalk over it for anything where speed is not critical.

          I would hope, by now, that everyone knows that pretty much any language is better than C++, so 'better than C++' is not much of a recommendation anymore.

          • by jadavis ( 473492 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @12:32PM (#20719903)
            I've been interested in learning at least one of those languages for a while. Usually what gets in my way is that I can't find the necessary libraries to complete whatever task I'm working on. Can you point me towards the language from your list that has:

            * a rich standard library with a good reference
            * a good extended library like CPAN
            * easy extension in C
            * good documentation
            * easily available compiler, etc.

            I don't mind buying a book, as long as I can get somewhere just from the online documentation. Out of the languages you mention, I got the furthest with OCaml. However, if I needed to do something simple like connect to a database and then contact a directory server using LDAP, I'd be lost.
            • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @02:21PM (#20720749) Journal

              * a rich standard library with a good reference
              Common Lisp probably wins here. The Common Lisp spec is a weighty tome filled with small writing. Smalltalk doesn't really have much of a standard library, but the most popular implementations have quite large ones. If I can add Objective-C to the list, OpenStep is pretty close to a standard library for Objective-C and is a joy to use.

              * a good extended library like CPAN
              Hard to answer without understanding what it is you like about CPAN. There are a huge number of Common Lisp libraries around (from FastCGI to OpenGL bindings). Squeak (Smalltalk) has its own system for distributing third party libraries. Not sure about Haskell and OCaml. There is a huge amount of Objective-C code out there too, although a fair bit of it is Apple-only.

              * easy extension in C
              This is where Objective-C totally wins over everything else, since it's a pure superset of C. There is a standard mechanism for calling C from Lisp code, so it's fairly easy. Calling C from Smalltalk depends on the Smalltalk you use; it's hard in Squeak, but pretty easy with GNU Smalltalk. Not sure about Haskell and OCaml.

              * good documentation
              Lisp has a huge amount of documentation. Smalltalk does, but it tends to be specific to a given implementation (although modern Smalltalk tends to be a superset of Smalltalk80, so the older the documentation, the more likely it is to be applicable).

              * easily available compiler, etc.
              There are a few Smalltalk implementations around. The popular free one is Squeak, which is close to the original Smalltalk. There is also GNU Smalltalk, which is file-based, and so closer conceptually to other languages. For Common Lisp there are lots of compilers, but the best Free one is Steel-Bank Common Lisp (sbcl). There are a few Haskell implementations available. The one I learned on was HUGS, but I think GHC is more popular. For OCaml, I've honestly no idea. For Objective-C, the only compiler anyone really uses is GCC (although, no doubt the author of POC will no pounce on me and tell me he and at least one other person use it).
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by killjoe ( 766577 )
            >I understand why you would choose a slow-and-expressive language over a fast-but-less-expressive one, but why would you choose a slow-and-expressive language over a fast-and-expressive one?

            Library, Library, Library, Library.

            Then comes community, documentation, availability of tools.

            Let me ask you a question.

            Smalltalk has been around for ages. If it's so great then how come it never caught on?

        • ...and I found the keys to a Porche at the bottom of her vagina.

      • Seaside would change the world, if only it had better support for templating.

        Continuation-passing style web coding. *drool*
      • by Watts Martin ( 3616 ) <layotl.gmail@com> on Sunday September 23, 2007 @03:25PM (#20721205) Homepage
        On a practical level rather than a "my code is more beautiful than yours" level, one answer is simple: deployment. If you're writing a program that's intended to be used pretty much just by you (or other people on your dev team, perhaps), it really doesn't matter what you write it in. If you're writing a program that's going to have to be rolled out to production systems that you don't have absolute control over -- like, say, a commercial web-hosting service -- there are new issues.

        Ruby is getting a lot of attention because of Rails, and Rails' attention is making it moderately easy to find web hosts that support it. It is easier to deploy a Rails application than it is to deploy a Django application, if you're taking into account "I must find a web host that supports my framework/language." If you are writing, a web app in Smalltalk using Seaside, well, not only are you definitely not shoving that out to your $8/month Dreamhost account, the chances are you're going to have to have complete control of the production side (i.e., colocation or self-hosting). Also, of course, if you're writing for a business, maintainability becomes an issue with any "obscure" language: eventually, the original development team won't be there, and if you can't replace them because the dozen other people in your area who know the language you chose are happy at the research labs they're working at, you find yourself in a very uncomfortable place. I've heard the even a kindergartner can learn Smalltalk so fast they'll be writing complete CRM systems in a week! speech, too, but in practice it seems those kindergartners are few and far between.

        Frankly, deployment issues are one of the reasons I'm slinking back to PHP myself; as much as I love Rails in theory, as it turns out, in practice Rails is a sufficient resource pig that many shared hosts that claim to support Rails put serious limitations on it unless you bump up your service level. (I know I'm inviting arguments from Rails fans here, but yes, I've really looked into this.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dubl-u ( 51156 ) *
        Looking at Ruby on Rails, it seems like a cheap clone of the old NeXT WebObjects

        It has been a long time since I did WebObjects work, but I don't think they're particularly similar. The spirit is certainly very different.

        So, why do people use Ruby?

        I think there are two big crowds. One is the smart OO guys who have been suffering through Java for years. Smalltalk is not commercially viable, but Ruby is. Suddenly, they can escape all the Java idiocy. For the ones doing web stuff, and in particular the ones wh
    • LISP.
    • sad (Score:3, Interesting)

      by m2943 ( 1140797 )
      You know, the sad thing about all the comparisons you make is that they are all choices between bad technologies. Assembler vs. PL/I, C vs. Java, Windows vs. Linux--they're all questions like whether you want to be drawn or quartered, drowned or burned, poisoned or starved. At each of those choice points, there were better technologies available.

      As for PHP vs. Ruby, both technologies suck: except for minor differences in syntax and object model, they are naively designed and implemented. After decades of
      • by iBod ( 534920 )
        >>I prefer to be poisoned with PHP rather than starved by Ruby: poison is quicker and less painful.

        Ha ha! My thinking exactly.

        I feel you are correct in your assessment of these (and other) technologies that abound now.

        They were designed by skilfull amateurs and enthusiastic students, who knew problem they needed to address, and addressed it pretty well, but without the benefit of deep technical knowledge and experience.

        If everyone had waited for heavyweight pros to address the problem, we'd still be
        • Part of the problem is, if we are really objective about it, the lisp/scheme family of languages are probably about as close to 'well designed' perfect as we will get. Conceptually.

          The problem with them is you pretty much have to unlearn so much of the ideas we take for granted in imperative languages, so much so, its been sugested your better off promoting scheme by teaching it to children then causing experienced programmers mind haemorages.

          Even Haskell might be a candidate, but holy fucking shit will I n
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by m2943 ( 1140797 )
          If everyone had waited for heavyweight pros to address the problem, we'd still be waiting, or be working with some horrible kludge (a camel is a horse designed by a committee etc.).

          The heavyweight pros did address the problem, many times: Modula-3, Smalltalk, Sather, APL, OCAML, Haskell, Scheme, EuLisp, Icon, and on and on. What those languages lack are user communities.

          They aren't perfect, and nothing ever is, but they power a great deal of the web, very effectively and usefully.

          Ruby does not power the we
    • Late in high school, some geek friends asked if I wanted to attend a course in PL/1 with them. I thought about it for a day or so, and came to the conclusion that by the time I got to the end of college and was out in the working world, PL/1 might be history. Then, when I got out into the working world I could learn whatever specific language I had to learn. I didn't take the course.

      I'm not saying I call it right all the time. I was really skeptical about Java when it first came out, and it seems to h

    • My thought is don't jump to new technology just because. Be extra wary of things with tons of hype surrounding them, and take the time to evaluate new technology (ensure the people evaluating has used the current tech so they can make a fair comparison). The adage 'if it isn't broke, don't fix it' carries a lot of weight. That said:

      Thinking about ditching C for Java? Think again.

      I will say a lot of companies have successfully ditched C for Java, or at least C for C++. I personally dislike the Java implementations I've seen, Java programs I've used

  • Planning is key. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by djsmiley ( 752149 ) <djsmiley2k@gmail.com> on Sunday September 23, 2007 @09:26AM (#20718599) Homepage Journal
    You dont choose a project for a language, but a language for a project.

    Heyho I didn't read the artical but if i've learnt anything (hahah like hell i have), then its planning is key. Plan your project and find a language that works, not the other way around.
  • by Monoman ( 8745 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @09:27AM (#20718603) Homepage
    It is all about choosing the right tool for a job. Sometimes you use a new tool and you wind up feeling like you are trying to put in a screw with a hammer. Sure it will work but not the way you want.

    Sometimes you go back to the tool you know how to use best.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CRCulver ( 715279 )
      But if all my l337 friends are using a screwdriver to pound in a nail, doesn't that mean I'm obliged to follow them?
    • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @09:38AM (#20718641) Homepage Journal
      The problem I have with the "languages are just tools" adage is that they are about the most complex tools one can use, I mean hammers and screwdrivers have nothing on them. What might undo a project might be because of an obscure limitation of the language that wasn't known at the time of designing the project.

      That said, I don't know much about Ruby or Rails, but I've heard that you have to follow the conventions or you're just making things hard. You can just not follow conventions, but it's just adding another pile of problems that defeat the point of using Rails.
  • What an idiot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 23, 2007 @09:32AM (#20718617)
    "All the cool kids were using Rails, so I decided if I wanted to be cool, I had to completely switch to Rails in one big jump!"
  • by DaleGlass ( 1068434 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @09:36AM (#20718631) Homepage
    There's a complete lack of points against Ruby in that article. And I don't say that as a fan, I don't know the langauge at all. It's just got a complete lack of any useful information to judge the usefulness of Ruby.

    #1: Seems a very weak criticism, all languages are interchangeable really. Except some do some things much better than others.
    #2: Internal management problem, not really related to Ruby specifically.
    #3: Applies to every language
    #4: Potential for real criticism here, but without any DATA it's completely useless
    #5: Works for whatever language the author likes, again not related to Ruby
    #6: Potential for more real criticism here, but again lacks any useful information
    #7: Again something unrelated to Ruby specifically

    From the whole list, only 2 of the reasons point to Ruby in any manner, and those are so uninformative as to be useless anyway. I think most of the blame for this lies with slashdot, as the article tries to spin it into something against Ruby when the actual article is more about a failed migration than anything else.
    • by discord5 ( 798235 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @10:44AM (#20719013)

      I have to agree with you. I've been through a few webprojects in perl, php, rails and struts. Perl is my favorite, but that has largely to do with the jobs I had to do in the past, and it's certainly not the only language to get to a solution.

      The only thing that I'd have to agree with is that Rails does take up a bit more resources than the average PHP application (#4), but rails like any other framework does allow you access to your database. It's very well documented in Agile Web Development on Rails [pragmaticprogrammer.com] (not being paid, just giving an example I know of) where they introduce Active Record, and there's an small section on the subject itself. I'm pretty sure it's somwhere in the API reference as well.

      Some languages are more suited than others for a certain project, so it's perhaps more important to do a proper analysis of what you want to achieve and what languages will help you most to achieve those goals. The author offers very little detail into what exactly went wrong with his project, except that it didn't go as smooth as planned (welcome to the 90% of all projects, pull up a chair and have a drink).

      Finally, even though the article mentions he hired a programmer, it's often wise when learning a new language/API/tool to start with a small application so you'll get a firmer grasp on it. That way you'll get a better feel for possible trouble ahead. Sure, we don't all have the time to do that, but in that case it's often better to stick to what you know and what works for you instead of blindly charging forth and trying to ride the latest wave of technology buzzwords. Not that I'm saying that RoR is just a buzzword (it's pretty neat actually), but don't use it because it's hip. Use it because it solves a problem more easily than another language/framework.

  • article: -1, troll (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Verte ( 1053342 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @09:37AM (#20718635)
    New article summary:
    1. I still have to program it
    2. We already knew PHP
    3. Rails has features I didn't use
    4. Rails has too many features
    5. I didn't really want to change my thought process
    6. I like my way of doing things
    7. How I justified trying something new.
    I'm not saying that these aren't valid- save 1 and 3, maybe. But they aren't new, and aren't interesting.
    • by Goaway ( 82658 )
      4 is spot on. Ruby is slow. It has nothing to do with features, and everything to do with having a weak language implementation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by z_gringo ( 452163 )
      He actually says the exact opposite of most of your points.

      He had one of the best rails programmers there was. It wasn't a problem with not knowing rails. He still wasn't finished after 2 years. He could accomplish the same thing faster in PHP.

      He specifically said that using and learning Rails helped him change his thought process for the better.

      • by Verte ( 1053342 )
        Have you ever seen a C programmers' Python code? Or a LISP application ported to Java?
        • Have you ever seen a C programmers' Python code? Or a LISP application ported to Java?

          Are you even paying attention? Once again, the guy hired one of the best Ruby programmers out there to do the rewrite. He didn't try to do it himself. Your point is irrelevant.
          • by Verte ( 1053342 )
            You're missing the point. It's not about programming, not even about language. It's about thinking. It doesn't matter how good at Ruby you are when you're making, essentially, a PHP+MySQL application in Rails. What matters is that you have engineered your site holistically as a Rails site. Maybe I oversimplified. The thing is, all that structure only works when you work with the paradigm. I don't doubt that the author of the article tried somewhat, having made a decision to move to Ruby. But the feeling fro
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @09:39AM (#20718643)

    Two years later, through blood and sweat, the project was then canceled because of limitations of Rails.

    While I do not doubt the hired programmers coding skills, I am afraid he was incompetent at planning.

    It's like choosing ISAM as the DB engine in MySQL instead if InnoDB then expecting to implement [referential] integrity using your own code.

    The fact that it took two years to realize imminent failure disturbs my mind. The worst thing is that this coder might have been an Open Source enthusiast that I'd expect to know better.

    I am afraid no home work was done or whatever home work was done, it not good enough. The results speak for themselves.

    • Speaking of SQL, just use PostgreSQL and you don't have to worry about stuff like that.
      • For PostgreSQL, I am still searching for a decent programmable GUI. Never found one! The Web based ones found in products like Webmin et al just do basic stuff. Think of Microsoft's Access which is a GUI to its JET database engine. Know of any?
  • I can totally relate to this guy. I am going through something very similar, ableit on a slightly smaller scale.

    We put a key system in Python a while back. After dealing with it for over a year, we are also going back to PHP. Everything else in the company is PHP. It just doesn't make sense to have this one Python. We can customize and improve the PHP a lot faster than the python.

  • Misleading summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) * on Sunday September 23, 2007 @09:47AM (#20718701) Homepage
    I read the article, and I believe the reasons the author switched back to PHP was because he was more comfortable with it than Ruby. If you read deeper, you'll note that he appreciated the experience in dealing with Ruby, and brought some of it back with him to PHP, but he did not think it was right for his application. Seeing this as a "OMG! Ruby replaced with PHP!" is just another fanboy reading into it what he will.

    Time to calm down here, people. Just because one person sees value in another set of tools doesn't mean you will too.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by chdig ( 1050302 )
      He appreciated Ruby, brought back some programming concepts to PHP, and used them. The concepts and clear flow of programming in Ruby are great, emphasizing MVC and separation of code, and can be used in PHP too (which is something most people for some reason think isn't possible).

      This article is interesting (and more than just fanboi talk) because it dispels some key myths about both Ruby and PHP -- all 7 points fall into two categories:
      a) PHP can do it just as well or better.
      b) PHP doesn't force the
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by vidarh ( 309115 )
        PHP is a bad language. It's a nasty mess, though it's gotten better with 5. What it has is simplicity, speed for web apps (compared to the current Ruby interpreter, and largely because the PHP interpreter is nicely integrated into Apache - this is not an inherent advantage of the language, but an implementation issue) and a huge number of built in, fast C extensions.

        I've picked PHP for web apps too, though I much prefer Ruby as a language (not too thrilled about Rails, mostly because I have an allergy to

        • "The threading model in Ruby, for example, is completely fucked up and kills performance if you need to do many threads and a lot of IO at the same time."
          As opposed to PHP which doesn't have threads at all?

          I really don't understand the obsession with threads. Why not just use processes? Running multiple processes allows you to fully utilize that dual core CPU of yours. Plus it doesn't involve messing with locks and conditional variables, an important source of bugs. If one process crashes, the others are un
  • ...some of his reasons are just nonsense.

    "#1 - "IS THERE ANYTHING RAILS/RUBY CAN DO THAT PHP CAN'T DO? ... (thinking)... NO.""
    I might as well ask the opposite: is there anything PHP can do that Rails can't? Nope. PHP doesn't give me any reason to switch back from Rails. This entire argument doesn't mean anything.

    It's the "not invented here" syndrome. "I didn't write it, so I don't want it, I want to use everything I wrote myself." A pretty weak argument.
    I don't know the en
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      About your point #6, not only is it easier, but it is easier to add onto later. When you use SQL to create objects, you have to go back to whatever line of code you used to do your insert command and adjust the fields. In Rails, you just run a migration to add a field to the table, then modify your form to add that extra field.

      And, I think you're pretty much right on about his other "points." The slashdot summary of his post is entirely misleading and total flamebait--and not written by him. I think the
  • Maybe he will like Ruby better than Rails? I heard that Ruby has less cruft that he disliked than Rails.

    This is getting ridiculous.
  • So rails sucks because you don't know how to use it? This article could apply to any language. Thinking about PHP? Think again, perl doesn't everything PHP can do and then some.

    When you're writing a project you need to look at what your existing code base uses and choose something that integrates with it, or just stick with what you know. Every application our company uses is written in perl and they run great, HTML::Mason makes it a lot like PHP any way.

    % print "Hello world!" isn't much different from
  • thats because rails is a web FRAMEWORK not a programming language - you know RUBY is underneath it all, right?

    people get too tied up with cms's that they think will do everything. code a plugin yourself (assuming a decent api is available).
  • The guy says he's got a company with many people already using PHP and all the systems being coded that way. It is only logical to continue with PHP and gradually improve the systems. Whether it makes sense to use Rails for any new projects remains a question. Why Rails anyway? But the reality is that if there is a team and they are familiar and proficient with a technology, then switching this technology to another one is tricky and risky. Are there any reasons for it in the first place?

    There is no si
  • by linuxbaby ( 124641 ) * on Sunday September 23, 2007 @10:23AM (#20718897)
    Hey gang -

    Longtime Slashdot reader, surprised to find my little personal blog post on Slashdot today, especially since the lead-in description framed it with the completely wrong point.

    I never said "the project was cancelled because of limitations of Rails" - more like I spent two years trying to make Rails do something it wasn't meant to do, then realized my old abandoned language (PHP, in my case) would do just fine if approached with my new Rails-gained wisdom.

    That's all.

    • I understand the temptation to try something new. I've wanted to do something in Rails but haven't had the time. Also, I've grown suspicious of frameworks in general. A lot of people swear by Struts, Spring, Rails, Grails, etc. I think frameworks can make easy things dead simple but hard things almost impossible. I do all my web apps as hand rolled MVC using servlets and JSPs. I've never coded myself into a corner with that.
    • We with with python for some things a while back, and I am now putting those back into PHP, which is what everything else in the company is in. I think some of these were kind of trendy and were adopted sooner than they needed to be. I don't hate python either, but I think we are better off in PHP. I had recently heard a few people saying that PHP is obsolete or whatever, but I don't think it is going anywhere anytime soon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gnavpot ( 708731 )

      surprised to find my little personal blog post on Slashdot today, especially since the lead-in description framed it with the completely wrong point

      I am very tempted to use the "You must be new here" /. joke.

      Slashdot summaries are always written like this. I don't know if the editors/submitters do not understand the point of the article they are linking to, or if said editors/submitters are so biased that they want to prove another point, using that article.

    • by icepick72 ( 834363 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @10:54AM (#20719099)
      This whole debacle on Slashdot isn't a result of the lead-in description. Anybody who has commented on the 7 points has read the original article in its entirety (well, hopefully!). There are many good discussions occurring around your points, some favorable, some not, but it's all good in the end.

      I have one burning question: What is the take of Jeremy Kemper (aka bitsweat) on this situation? Being "one of the best Rails programmers in the world", many of us would like to hear from him. Has he blogged or posted about this too? (need a link) Does he share the same view points on the situation?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by icepick72 ( 834363 )
        Hey, if Jeremy Kemper is one of the best, did he raise any warning flags along the way? Do you think he could have curbed the end effect given his high level of expertise?

        Given that your O'Reilly Biography describes you as "Still a relative newbie among programmers, he'd appreciate any tips and advice you could give him", why is it you could pull off CDBaby in 2 months in PHP while an expert Rails programmers, including yourself as a second person on the project, could not pull it off on 2 years?

        The project
  • by Synn ( 6288 )
    His reasons are pretty lame.

    The biggest issue I'm having with rails is its lack of scaling due to a horrid threading model. We run mongrel, which can accept multiple requests per mongrel but only process one at a time due to Rails not being thread safe. So you end up having to run many many instances of mongrel on seperate ports to accept incoming requests. This wouldn't bo so bad, but the preferred methods of sending traffic to these mongrels(apache mod_proxy_balancer is what we use) have NO idea what the
  • I prefer PHP, but this sounds too FUDish to support...
  • I think his #6 point about Rails is most telling:

    #6 - I LOVE SQL Speaking of tastes: tiny but important thing : I love SQL. I dream in queries. I think in tables. I was always fighting against Rails and its migrations hiding my beloved SQL from me.

    Sounds like this guy dropped back to his default mode of putting a lot of his eggs in the database layer, which is good for speed. Some programmers handle levels of abstraction better than others. If he were to reapply Ruby/Rails again in a few years he may

  • by aldheorte ( 162967 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @10:39AM (#20718989)
    The article reads as a "I tried to use Rails without learning Rails or Ruby and gave up" story and then admits to using many of the Rails patterns in a home grown PHP solution. Well, obviously, if you are much more familiar with another language and refuse to learn the language underneath a framework, it will be hard to use that framework. Point by point:

    1. There is nothing that PHP cannot do that Rails cannot do - Well of course, and there's nothing that any language can do that Common Lisp cannot do. Almost all languages implement a Turing machine and can be used to solve any computational problem. The question is code readability, syntactical sugar, and adaptability, all important concepts. Also, the community that has grown around it that builds a knowledge base and plugins and libraries.

    2. Their entire company worked on PHP and integration was difficult - Sounds like they didn't understand RPC and services models. Sharing between different languages and platforms is an unfortunate fact of life. Also, it sounds like PHP was the problem here, not Rails, if interoperation was such a problem. "Interoperation" in the article is used oddly - it's actually more about transition to a new site, which has nothing to with the platform used and, if is such a heinous problem, is a problem with design of the new app.

    3. Didn't need 90% of Rails - Then why use it? Also, using a tenth of something is not an argument against it if it still the best tool for the job you are doing.

    4. The custom solution they jury rigged is "small and fast" - Many Rails apps are small and fast - there's no statistics or analysis here for comparison.

    5. The PHP custom app was built for to their tastes - Obviously. If you write a custom app it will miraculously suit your preferences and will probably be a very good solution to your problem. Custom apps if you can do them are often a good idea, keeping in mind the downside is that you don't have a community of knowledge, don't get patches for free, etc..

    6. He loves SQL - Fine, don't use ActiveRecord then. Or use ActiveRecord and make direct SQL calls. This goes against common wisdom, of course, regardless of platform, but if you really want to do it, it's there.

    7. Programming languages are like girlfriends? - No idea.

    The bottom line is that there are criticisms you can level at Rails or any language or framework. However, you actually have to bring facts and analysis to an argument, and this article offers neither.
  • Don't get me wrong - I'm no fan of Ruby. That said, Derek Sivers doesn't really say anything about Ruby here, except to complain that he doesn't understand it, doesn't know the standard library very well, didn't want to retrain his existing PHP staff, and has finally discovered how little of a difference the underlying language makes. He also makes the point that learning something teaches him things elsewhere, which makes it sound like Ruby is maybe his third language or so; he seems genuinely surprised
  • I see some similar things when I look at a variety of Java toolkits, some offering very OO "you can pretend you're a swing app and ignore the HTTPRequest cycle"

    I worry that a decade of homebrew Perl CGI has warped my brain, but frankly, HashMaps wrapping HTTP Request parameters seems really natural to me, and if you use a Model2+ approach w/ servlet and JSP pairs, you're writing your business logic in Java, your HTML in HTML (well, JSP... and honestly, I don't think I've ever been on a team that manage to l
  • Dumbass (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danielk1982 ( 868580 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @11:38AM (#20719431)
    Why would you throw out perfectly good code and rewrite everything?

    There's nothing wrong with PHP, especially if the current implementation does the job.
  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @12:03PM (#20719659)
    This is his best point.

    My VB coding improved immeasurably after I learned C#. And I'm not just talking VB6, I'm talking VB3 as well.

    Learning a new language can teach you to do so much better in your old ones. I am *still* more productive, if you want something fast, in VB6 than I am in Java or C#. I can knock together a small cheap GUI very fast.

    Of course, sometimes you do run into the limits of your chosen platform. VB6 strings are all 2-byte unicode internally, which makes dealing with UTF-8 a real pain. Then the ugly kludges start coming out.
  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Sunday September 23, 2007 @12:32PM (#20719899)
    Rails did not invent MVC, nor did they invent scaffolding or any of the other stuff. They didn't even make it popular. Very many people get these facts wrong. The only thing Ruby On Rails did as a first was to apply professional marketing strategies when trying to make an open source web application framework popular. They were the first to build a project website that was appealing to the eye more than anything else and they heavyly pushed the concept of the screencast, right when broadband was becoming commonplace. I'm shure almost everybody has watched that famous 'a blog in 15 minutes' screencast. This screencast alone made Rails (and the editor presented in it, Textmate) extremely popular.
    Technology wise there are many frameworks and webkits that are far more mature and far more sophisticated than Rails and have been around for 6 years and more.
  • Misleading Post (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @03:13PM (#20721141)
    The original Slashdot post implies some things that are not substantiated by the actual content of the article (blog post). It sure seems as though the poster him/herself has something against Rails.

    The actual blog post (and poster) imply that Rails was not designed to do things that they were trying to do. That may or may not be... but that is not the fault of Rails. If the tool was inappropriate for the project, then the project manager should have determined that before starting.

    Also, while it is implied (and even stated) that Rails was not designed to do these things... nowhere is he specific about what those things actually are. Rather than berating Rails, the blog post glorifies PHP. Those are two very different things.

    In introductory Business Law at my college, there was discussion of the classic case of the tavern visitor in the 1700s who stated "My horse can pisse better beer than this!" (sic) The tavern owner sued the patron for slander. (In those days most taverns made their own beer.)

    The judge ruled that the statement was not slander, because the customer did not insult the tavern owner's beer at all... rather, he had complimented his horse!

    There really is a big difference. So... I want to know what he does not like about Rails, since he really did not explain that.
  • by QuestorTapes ( 663783 ) on Sunday September 23, 2007 @04:39PM (#20721783)
    On of the comments on the existing site contains this additional information:

    > I'm a little reluctant to add to the wasteland that is this post
    > and these comments, but here goes.

    > ...The deal was this: Derek was not a programmer; he was a musician.
    > He learned some PHP and cobbled together the old CDBaby site by himself.
    > It was good.

    > Then, he heard about Rails, and became infatuated with it. He proceeded
    > to attempt a rolling rewrite of CDBaby's frontend and backend both
    > (the backend is large, because of inter-label and digital distribution
    > stuff) in Rails.

    > At this time, Derek had no experience with the following things:
    > * any language other than PHP
    > * systems integration and interoperability
    > * Rails
    > * object-orientation
    > * the MVC pattern
    > * managing a development team

    Concluding with:

    > No framework saves you from your own inexperience.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling