This is the third of five predictions for 2008, expanded from the short form generated on short notice as described here.
Prediction · The short version:
Rails will continue to grow at a dizzying speed, and Ruby will in consequence inevitably become one of the top two or three strategic choices for software developers. But at the same time, other frameworks and tool-sets are learning its lessons, so Rails will get some serious competition.
I Hear a Very Gentle Sound · I don’t know anyone who’s actually doing methodologically respectable head-counts of Web developers, so any opinion from anyone is based on anecdotal evidence at best. But these days, based on my anecdotal evidence, everything I see and smell, the white-hot pace of Rails adoption isn’t slowing down at all.
Rails drags Ruby along behind it, and good programmers who are exposed to Ruby tend to become addicted pretty quickly.
[Hoisted from Comments] Joe Gregorio argues that Rails peaked in mid-2006 and is now declining. But read his comments, too.
Who’s Watching · There is one group of technologists who are now 100% familiar with Rails. I’m speaking of the developers of competitive Web frameworks, many of whom felt somewhat smacked upside the head by Rails’ sudden noisy chomp into their market share.
By and large, they’re not stupid. They may not have been as quick to notice the things that DHH and the other Railsists noticed, but they’ve noticed them now, and more or less every other piece of the Web ecosystem has something “Rails-like” in hot development or in production. Some of the names to watch are Django (based on Python), lift (based on Scala), and Grails (based on Groovy). But I predict fearlessly that there will be a Real Important Web-framework grabbing mindshare a year from now that’s learned Rails’ lessons but ain’t one of those.
I Could Be Wrong · Maybe the population of developers will wake up, shake their heads, and say “Nah, going back to PHP, it’s faster” or “Actually, now I see that Java EE’s XML configuration files are da bomb”.
But I don’t think so.