Something Like Rails Is the Future

Recently, Ruby on Rails has had a lot of press. This month’s Dr. Dobbs has a cover story: “Ruby On Rails: Java’s Successor?“. Having attended a full day Rails tutorial at the start of XTech, I must say I am pretty impressed. If you are building database-backed web apps from scratch – and, let’s face it, a heck of a lot of people are – it’s great. I’ve not seen anything else that gives you so much for so little work.

But it seems to me that the ideas that Rails is based on – convention over configuration, special purpose frameworks for quickly performing common tasks, MVC, domain-specific languages, test driven development – are “the future”. In the future, all of these ideas will be received wisdom – people working on web applications from scratch will be looked upon with the same mix of pity and fear as someone writing a desktop app in assembler would be looked upon today.

At the moment, Rails may well be the best embodiment of those principles. But it doesn’t have to have exclusivity. So that’s why I say that the future is “something like Rails”. It could be Rails – but If another thing comes along which follows those principles and improves upon them, that will be the future.

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3 thoughts on “Something Like Rails Is the Future

  1. Ruby has kicked off a huge group of similar frameworks. I consider rails and friends to be the third generation of web app development (cgi, *sp, mvc/dsl).

    The most developed rails competitor is probably django (python), which is great for putting together content sites due to its automagic admin interface. I personally use TurboGears (python) with SQLAlchemy as a db layer because I’m normally not working with a from-scratch db. Jifty is the perl framework, there are a couple php ones with no clear leader there.

  2. I’ve worked with django a bit and it’s been really fun. It’s about the same kind of feeling you get when you’re first introduced to CSS and you realise how liberating it his to not have to muck around with font tags and all that malarkey. Unlike what some people have said rails and django aren’t really competitors. Dango comes with batteries included (i18n system based on gettext and a bunch of other cool things) and values standards compliance over flashy effects. If a rails app happens to run on an browser without javascript it was probably an accident.

    As far as php is concerned, I found, although I haven’t tried it out. It seems a bit enterprisey too :/

  3. I’m about to “launch” Django at work. I just used it to rewrite our internal address-book app: it has less than 50 lines of code, 20 of which are database definitions (which also double-up as field descriptors on the forms). Its built-in admin interface is terrific, and the template language is simple and powerful. Also, the framework itself is very uncluttered, in contrast to Rails and Symfony. Best of all, it uses Python :)