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?

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