Is Ruby on Rails dead?
The Ruby on Rails phenomenon started by David Heinemeier Hansson in 2004 (fully open sourced in 2005) has had its share of hype, but lately it seems as if the trend is starting to die down, as ISPs have never really been that enthusiastic about it, and as a completely different scripting language amongst the more mature and well-established alternatives like PHP, ASP.net and (on a lesser scale) ColdFusion even, it never really shared huge success amongst most webmasters although it developed a moderate community (now referred to as ‘clingers’). With the last major bit of news in RoR being Apple’s support in Leopard (that was 2007), and a redundant patch released just days ago at the time of this writing, is RoR dead except for those die-hard clingers?
When RoR first came on the scene, its core fundamentals of “Convention over Configuration” CoC and “Don’t repeat yourself” (DRY, as humorists found spells DRYCoC if put together) along with a Model-View-Controller structure (like struts) and the whole scaffolding thing made it sound like a great idea on paper. Many flocked to using the new technology, which also revolutionized the usage of Ajax, SOAP, and RESTful, even a popular photosharing website using it to manage photos.
However, despite the hype from its community and the arrogant comments made by RoR’s creator, it failed to achieve the numbers of deployments other *nix scripting languages did, although a few small hosts and ISPs did install it.
As of 2008, however, you rarely hear about the technology in the headlines anymore, and every now and then you’ll come across a ‘clinger’ (one who, after becoming absorbed by a technology he/she thinks is dominant, will continue to preach about it even decades after it has become outdated or abandoned). Apple did announce they would ship it pre-installed with the then-new Leopard in 2007 (probably because the RoR creator always touted a Macbook at his conferences), but Snow Leopard support is still up in the air. On the one hand, Apple tends to keep some things around in its OS just in case you need them, but then again Snow Leopard promises to strip some ‘unnecessary’ components out of OS X, and with the recent loss of popularity RoR has experienced, it might be on the chopping block (in addition to the rumored hackintosh-prevention techniques put in to Snow Leopard).
As a webmaster myself, I attempted to learn RoR with the intention of using it extensively after reading about its values (DRYCoC, no less). But after enduring the tutorials with the intention of it being as easy as PHP or ASP.net (granted you know a .net language ahead of time), I was shocked at how much scripting mess went into the basics of the framework, which while slightly ahead of its time is too bleeding-edge for a rank among current scripting languages, although the Ajax API was attractive. After also having trouble with host support, I dropped learning it and stuck with what I know best, vowing to even use CGI before touching some obscure language/framework combination like Ruby on Rails again.
So the final question is, comparing its user base/community to its size from 2005 or so, can we knight Ruby on Rails dead finally? I fail to see and prominent websites using the framework, and I don’t see as many zealots of it in the IRC channels anymore, so if you can’t see it after searching for it, its probably not there anymore.