November 18, 2005 Ruby the Rival

Here's a good article on why Ruby (particularly On Rails) is disrupting the traditional Java web development solutions (ie. the big frameworks).

This is all so right. I've been railing vociferously against the pain of Java web development since 2001. (When I was obliged to do it.) It's been obvious that Java (ie. a fairly verbose, compiled, statically typed, repressive language) was the wrong platform to build web-apps. And that big frameworks like Struts were productivity killers.

The whole Java edifice is ripe for toppling. But before we celebrate further, it's worth considering that we've been here before. Lightweight, dynamic languages have been used to build quality web-applications since the beginning, when Perl was the language of choice.

In a sense, the phenomenally succesful PHP could be seen as Perl's Rails if what we mean is a Perl (I know it's not actually the same language) optimized for web-apps. Python first came to prominance as the basis of Zope, another powerful platform for constructing web-based apps. A more quixotic example, I've been very influenced by Philip Geenspun's "Ars Digita" Community System - a very early scripting platform for social web-apps - which was based on TCL.

Why didn't these see off or supplant Java?

... actually, I was about to rattle off a couple of reasons, when I realized that these were rather boring truisms and I wasn't even sure I believed them. So let's hold back ... I'll think about this some more and come back ...

to be continued ...
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