Will the Rails war cross the Atlantic?

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First, a brief introduction: Ruby on Rails (or “Rails” for short) is an open source web application framework designed to increase the speed and ease with which database-driven web sites can be created. Got it? Good. Because it is in theory quick to create sites with Rails, it has become associated with Web 2.0 startups who want to launch quickly, especially social networks. Twitter is a Rails site for instance. However, since Web 2.0 is seen as something of a gold-rush, lots of Web developers have piled into using Rails, and, it must be said, some are better than others, as you’d expect. It’s a bit like lots of people turning up to a gold mine not knowing how to mine, but buying some pick-axes anyway.

In the UK, use of Rails has been growing. Which makes it interesting that one of the leading US proponents of Rails has turned on the platform in a vicious manner. As TechCrunch US reports, Zed Shaw (pictured), considered a God in the Rails community, today says “Rails Is A Ghetto” and tears into a number of leading Rails developers, the community in general, and a number of startups (and Google). It would appear that he has been burned too many times by startups who want to use Rails to launch quickly, and by new CEOs who have no idea about the Web.

I asked Damien Tanner, of UK-based New Bamboo, a UK specialist in bespoke software development using Rails for a reaction. He says Zed is a “brilliant coder”, however:

“The simplicity Rails (and other frameworks) brings to development obviously attracts a lot of idiots who can’t code, and somehow Zed seems to have been bumping into these people all to often. Personally I don’t think it will cause any long term harm to the Rails community and industry.”

What do you think? Will this blog storm have an affect on UK or European startups using Rails?

  • http://www.beilabs.com Jonathan Clarke

    Nothing to see here, kindly move along. Zed is a very “loud” individual and as such his arguments must be taken with a pinch of salt. There are always going to be bad developers coming into any language, its been happening to other languages for a long time; I guess that is the price to pay for rails success. I also agree that there is certainly a serious lack of certification for rails engineers as opposed to Java but that will all come in time.

    It’s interesting to note how little of an effect this shall have on the rails community. Zed has written a magnificent piece of software, which I am certainly grateful for, but the rails community is bigger than just one man/woman.

  • http://sporkmonger.com/ Bob Aman

    It’s not so much the bad programmers poisoning the community as it is the people who try to cheat you on a regular basis. Personally, I don’t like Rails a whole lot on a purely technical level (it’s got a ton of flaws that are effectively unfixable), but as a freelance Ruby developer, Rails is what people know, Rails is what gets me paid, so Rails is what I tend to work with professionally. It is amazing how often I get emails from people who try to hire me in an unprofessional manner. As a general rule of thumb, I turn them down, because experience tells me that such people tend not to pay on time, or at all. Now, admittedly, all of my freelancing has been done within the Ruby community, so it’s difficult to compare, but it strikes me as really bad to have around 75% of the work offers I get coming from these “bad apples.” Just to be clear, there’s a lot of companies out there who seem to be having trouble with paying invoices due to mistakes and miscommunication in the accounting department; that’s not what I’m talking about.

    By far my biggest complaint is with companies that have no funding or revenue and cannot actually afford my services. Far too many of them are hiring me (or trying to hire me) without mentioning the fact that if they can’t find funding within the next 6 weeks, they won’t be able to pay my invoice when it comes due (NET-30 + 2 weeks). That is so not cool, because in the worst case, it means I have 3 outstanding invoices that may never get paid, since they went out before the bad client was identified as such. Others are willing to pay for a week or two of service, and then they insist you become a full time employee, because they can only afford to pay you in worthless equity. And I’m not even charging the insane $120/hr rates many Rails consultants are asking for.

    I’m really good at what I do, I’m worth my rate, and if I’ve done work for you, pay me what you owe me. Anything else is criminal.

  • http://technology.peerplink.com/2008/01/02/ror-build-a-boat-by-starting-with-a-train/ RoR Build a boat by starting with a train : PeerPlink Technology Blog

    […] Thanks for visiting!RoR (Ruby on Rails) still appears to have some cachet in some circles, but as TechCrunch UK report one of it’s loudest proponents is getting disgruntled. Zed Shaw, considered a God in […]

  • Andrzej

    I absolutely love this rant. Zed’s pretty offensive against some people – but the general thoughts behind his post are 100% right. RoR community, “Lean methodology” consulting firms, and the whole “go Agile or die” evangelizing is just one big shit-hole :-)

  • http://www.divxmerkezi.net divxmerkezi

    good job, thanks

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