At the Forge - Assessing Ruby on Rails

All the dope on Zope versus Ruby on Rails.

Some people are hailing the arrival of Rails as the beginning of a new era in Web development. And indeed, I think Rails has set a new standard for what we can expect in a Web development framework. No longer will developers believe that it should take more than a few lines of code to create a “hello, world” program, or even to handle basic database actions.

Also, Rails is starting to convince developers that common conventions can be conducive to rapid, bug-free development. It took many years for developers to agree that garbage-collected languages were an improvement over malloc(), and it is taking a similarly long time for us to agree that conventions are better than configuration files. But the popularity of Rails probably means that we are increasingly ready for such a change.

Although no Web development framework is perfect, I believe that Rails has hit the sweet spot for many of the applications I have found myself writing for more than a decade. Both Ruby (the language) and Rails (the framework) are still maturing—but if this is how they are as relatively immature tools, I can't wait to see what they're like when they are finally ready.

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Reuven M. Lerner, a longtime Web/database consultant, is currently a PhD student in Learning Sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He and his wife recently celebrated the birth of their third child, a boy.