Feeds

Ruby on Rails

The Reg sits down with David Heinemeier Hansson

The essential guide to IT transformation

Ruby on Rails is an open-source application framework which has won praise for its elegance and high productivity. Its creator, David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals, was in London for the Carson conference on the Future of Web Apps.

So what’s so good about Rails? David Heinemeier HanssonI’ve billed Rails in the past as PHP meets Java. You get the clean, structured approach from J2EE and Java, but at the same time you get the quick, short feedback loop, instant results from PHP. We have a lot of people coming from J2EE because it’s just too complex, they can’t get anything done. Then we have a ton of people coming from PHP because they’re realising, it's simply too unstructured. I can’t figure out my code after I’ve written it, I have decreasing productivity over time. Getting those two factions together is the big goal of what we’re doing with Rails.

And why Ruby?

Ruby is a language unlike any other I’ve tried. Matz, the Japanese creator of Ruby, wanted to create a programming language that was optimised for programmer happiness, instead of being optimised for machines. So instead of being a slave to the compiler you’re making the compiler a slave to you. I tried it out for a week and really liked it, and got something done, and within a month there was just no way I would ever go back to a language like PHP or Java.

A key feature of Ruby is its dynamic typing, in contrast to the static typing of C/C++ or Java. If you give up the safety of static typing, then is a rigorous testing methodology necessary in compensation?

That’s the wonderful thing that’s been working out so well for dynamic languages like Ruby and Python and the others. We’ve had this resurgence of programmer-driven tests. If you have no tests, then static typing gives you something. I don’t agree that it gives you very much, because it’s usually not compile errors but the logic of your program that is wrong. Unit testing and functional testing catch all types of errors, including logic errors. In a world where testing is considered a good, I think static typing is like a ball and a chain.

Ruby on Rails may be flavour of the year, but is it secure? Will it scale?

Security vulnerabilities are logic errors. You can have just as many security violations in a Java program or a Perl program or something else.

So would he recommend Rails for a highly secure application like online banking?

Definitely. But what gets used is not necessarily decided on technical excellence but more: ‘I wouldn’t get fired for using Java.’ It’s a political concern more than it’s a technical concern. As for scalability, we didn't try to solve that problem with Rails, because it is already solved. How is Yahoo scaling? They’re doing billions of page views a day, and they’re using PHP. The thing about PHP, Perl, Python and Ruby is that they can all be architected in the same manner, which is this notion of not having session state in the application layer. You push that down to the database, or you push it down to a shared memory store. That gives you the freedom of adding new application servers at will. You have load balancers, then you have web servers, then you have load balancers, then you have application servers. Rails is intensely scalable in that fashion.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.