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Random Thoughts about Ruby On Rails

Published Nov 13 2013 via openDesktop.org

I don’t consider myself to be an expert. I don’t want to be; it’s too boring of a title to hold anyways. Instead, I’d consider myself a tinkerer with experience of things near and far.

This is a hammering of a few thoughts. I’ve been working with Ruby for about three years now and the Rails framework for about a full one now. I have to admit, the speed at which web applications can be built is really intriguing compared to statically typed languages like C++ but that’s probably a unfair comparsion. Outside of Ruby, I’ve worked on hobby Web applications using Zend and Mojolicious with no real interest of taking it to market as a skill. Rails was the turning point.

Why Rails?

First and foremost, if you really did a bit of backend Web development, the one thing that was always a concern was handling database migrations whenever entity relationship diagrams changed (though I feel they shouldn’t have). Defining a SQL schema by hand and having PHP execute it before it was ran in production (yes, bad practice, smell it) was less than routine but often enough to be a problem.

One day, while I was in California for an event at Stanford, another engineer suggested that we re-write the entire platform using Rails (3.2.6, if that matters). I was really against initially out of a lack of knowledge of using the framework but I caved in. After a bit of shoddy pair programming, my whole opinion about the damned thing changed.


After using and working with a few Rails applications, I’m not so sure I’d want to continue using it. For starters, I’m a bit of a fan of being able to tweak and hammer things to a particular setup (take my laptop, for example). Rails is configurable, but in a very weird way. Again, good software has ‘sane defaults’, but I wouldn’t consider most of the defaults for Rails to be1.

People are looking to the whole “let’s make an API!” stage with event-based web stacks2 powered by Node/JavaScript and decoupling the …. hogwash. For now, any serious disconnection from the current trends of application would only occur when HTML5 is 100% out the door. And we know when that’s happening.

  1. My options are slightly changing with these RCs of Rails 4. The fact that more functionality is refactored out into separate gems make me a bit more comfortable (i.e: protected_attributes, turbolinks). But they’re RCs.

  2. Fun fact! Nearly every web application that exists is event-driven!

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