If you’re obsessive about dynamic languages and Web frameworks (and who isn’t?) it’s been a juicy few days. Let’s start with a bunch of pointers: Mike Pence interviews Avi Bryant & tries to start a fight. Avi says “huh?”. DHH too, in his own space and an InfoQ interview. At the same time, a Twitter developer disses Rails. DHH says smart things and so do Kellan of LaughingMeme and Ryan Tomayko. Phew. Now it’s my turn.
First, I was in that original Mike Pence interview (via IRC in #jruby) and he left out what I thought was the most important thing I said: Right now, Ruby and Rails, out of the box with not much tinkering, are plenty fast enough for lots of applications. I mean, really a lot of applications.
Second, as an investor in Avi’s company, there’s a chunk of my own money that says I’m OK with Seaside. When I first saw it, I wrote a piece that asked, more or less “WTF!? Can you abstract the Web away?” and I’d like to draw your attention to Sam Ruby’s reply: “Pssst: don’t tell anyone, but this is only true for small values of ‘the web’.” And DabbleDB is the nicest small piece of the Web I’ve ever seen; replicated enough times, in aggregate it won’t be small. For great big honkin’ Internet-facing apps that want to be platforms too, I’d probably push back on what Avi’s said about the unimportance of clean URIs but, you know what? I suspect in that context we might agree.
Third, I had an off-the-record conversation recently and learned a whole bunch of things about the Twitter/Rails situation. Holy shit, that’s a scary load they’re trying to stand up under and there are some hurtin’ engineers.
But the thought I came away with was this: In the big picture, Twitter did exactly the right thing. They had a good idea and they buckled down and focused on delivering something as cool as possible as fast as possible, and it’s really hard, in early 2007, to beat Rails for that. When all of a sudden there were a few tens of thousands of people using it, then they went to work on the scaling.
Oh, “Respect”. There’s a lot of it going around, with correspondingly little religion. And while I think InfoQ is by and large doing good stuff; guys, it’s a new millennium, we’re trying to re-invent journalism and maybe we can learn to get past “if it bleeds, it leads”?