Joel, David, and You

Joel, David, and You

Things I find counterproductive about language communities:

Joel Spolsky answers some questions about what kind of software to use to develop web apps. In the process he points out that Ruby has some technical weaknesses (speed) as well as some market ones (immaturity). David Heinemeier Hansson -- author of Rails -- takes issue with this, and the Rails community is jumping on the bandwagon to beat up on Spolsky.

I believe they miss the point: Ruby is slow (so was Java -- this will be fixed), does have a relatively thin ecosystem (that is growing rapidly), is still mostly the province of the leading edge (the chasm has not been crossed), and is still a risky bet for anyone developing in the corporate world. Java had the same qualities 10 years ago.

DHH's point that Spolsky is a hypocrite for using an in-house language doesn't hold water: Spolsky isn't arguing that you must use Java or C#, he's arguing that they're currently the "safe" languages; Ruby has its drawbacks at the moment and is "not a safe choice for at least another year or six". Spolsky himself isn't in a place to make the "safe" choice: he's running a startup and he's smart enough to use the best tool for the job -- even if he has to write it himself. So is DHH (or he'd be programming in J2EE and we wouldn't have Rails).

Matz doesn't seem to care.

I like Ruby. I think Rails is on the leading edge of a significant change in how software is developed. But being on the leading edge guarantees that you are not a safe choice for the vast majority of people, and criticizing those who point that out is just silly.

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