Today I have a much better grasp of Rails and the magick seems to fade away. And this is great. Rails generates a lot of excitement at the moment, and excitement leads to hype, when people who try to play the “magick” card, attributing it with “human-like” behaviour and popularizing a perception that Rails does everything for you.
The screencaps might be impressive, but frankly with right PHP libraries you would be able to get the same results just as easily. The best presentation on Rails is here, it was done way before all the Rails hype started (you can even see that there are about 20-30 people in the room). It is a bit long (2 hors!), but David (the Rails author) answers most of the questions – what made him move from PHP to Ruby, what MVC methodology means in Rails, and also codes an example, which just does not
And this brings me to a point – you should not expect Rails to be easy, you should expect to get into it first.
Also, I am not sure I like the thing about plural / singular (in Rails you enter it in singular, like “Book” when you name an object, and in database you have a table called “books”, because you see, it is a collection of book, the objects. And Rails goes one way further – mouse become “mice”, and so on. I am not sure that this is that useful for programmers, you could just as well have Book the object and Book the database table name. But I guess thisk quirky feature is something to put you in the mood for starting thinking about the object/database relationship, and it’s also a great soundbyte.
In the video presentation I mentioned, somebody asked a good question – “can Ruby be considered to develop a Bank System?” And this is a good question – for people to start looking into Ruby means a great amount of investment. If the language is not a proven concept or if the support is lacking, Rails can become just another fluke – an overhyped technology. And the answer to this would be that nobody knows yet – the critical mass of Ruby programmers is not there yet, so anything can happen. Ruby (and Rails) can become the next Linux or Apache – an industry standard robust technology with commercially available support. It can become an object-oriented PHP alternative. Or it can become Coldfusion – taking up a relatively small niche.
From what I saw in the last couple of days, both Ruby and Rails have a lot of potential. One thing Rails should be very good for is for rapid development of mini projects (3-4 people for 1-3 months). But mini does not mean bad – the flagship Rails project is a good looking project collab tool Basecamp. One of the best features that will be great for Web 2.0 start-ups and fans is the built-in support for Ajax in Rails.
I am still not sure about the learning curve for Ruby and Rails – if the time investment is not serious, even if the future of Rails and Ruby is not certain, you still will not waste it – learning about Ajax, Object Oriented Programming and Model-View-Controller methodology will not go unnoticed.
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