Last month I attended a seminar about Virtual Worlds and in particular Second Life, during which it was suggested that Second Life had been through the hype stage, passed over the bell curve of growth and the “cool” factor, and was now on the other side of the curve with as many articles in the press concerning problems and issues than there were previously praising it.

Is the same happening with Rails?

For the last couple of years there has been a great deal written and tried with Rails which has been overwhelmingly positive (and in the main rightly so). However, I am detecting a swing in the coverage, and in particular the recent blog from describing why a Rails re-write of a PHP system was completely abandoned, details here.

There have been a number of successes at Shine using Rails, and it is a great technology, but is it really that good a fit in the enterprise beyond new greenfield systems? Is there compelling reasons to replace the (in the main) Java systems we have built and maintained over the last 10 years? Is GWT a better solution for existing corporate systems – even just from the point of view that the retraining involved in GWT is trivial for a Java developer as GWT development is all written in Java? Or will improvements in Rails, for instance JRuby, allow greater integration into existing systems and hence speed its adoption?

So back to the original point, where on the bell curve is Rails….


  1. I read the blog from and don’t agree with it at all. If you go on to read a few of the comments posted about the article you’ll find that very few people actually agree with him. His 2 main reasons for disliking Ruby/Rails were because he liked writing SQL and disliked Rails migrations, and because he didn’t want to replace all the current PHP apps at his work with Rails. I hardly see how this constitutes an argument that PHP is better than Ruby/Rails.

    I do however think that just because Rails is currently “the flavour of the month”, that we shouldn’t start replacing all our java systems built over the last 10 years. I’ve personally built web applications using Rails and I think it’s much easier to work with than java. Does that make it better? I guess its one of the questions that only the good old “scientific method” can answer.

  2. I think the fundamental should always be that you choose the technology that meets the business needs. If you are in a greenfields, web-based environment then Rails has to be considered, as well as Java. If you have legacy issues it starts to get harder to justify Rails at its current maturity level – even if you throw in JRuby.

    I am not sure I have heard many people at all talk about Rails when dealing with legacy applications. They are usually pretty careful to talk about it in the concept of greenfields development.

    Then again, I think the same can be said for Hibernate. My own experience of trying to get it to work in a legacy environment was far from perfect…

    And to throw in an answer on where Rails is on the curve… I think we have gone past the hype phase and we are now in the bedding down phase. Maturity questions like deployment and scalability seem to be the big ticket items. These problems are getting solved, but is making the decisions on when to use Rails more informed by highlighting certain weaknesses.

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