The release of Ruby on Rails 1.0 is more than an important milestone. It represents the ushering in of a new era in web application development with the modern browser acting the part of platform. Despite early skepticism and sometimes harsh criticism, Rails has emerged as a clear champion in the framework debate. Whether or not you believe that Rails changes everything, one thing is certain: the web application is poised to play an important role in the future of software development.
I’m not going to get into the details of what I think defines the web version 2.0, but I think most would agree it includes tools like Ruby on Rails. In fact, as the makers of some of the only financially successful web 2.0 applications thus far, I would venture to say that the dynamic duo of Rails and 37signals are (deservedly) among conductors of the web 2.0 train—why, Rubies are more valuable than Snakes nowadays and even Google has taken notice, awarding Rails’ creator DHH the prestigious hacker of the year award.
Rails has it all: a great language, an agile philosophy, opensource good looks, and now that it’s hit 1.0, a professional image that rivals even its most established competitors. Recently redesigned by Jason Fried, the Rails website is a remarkable testimony to the power of clarity and honesty in web design. It looks simple enough to have been designed in a day, and showcases some fresh ideas in layout and branding. A year ago, Ruby on Rails was an underground open source web framework with a niche following; today it’s 37Signals newest product: a polished web application framework and a philosophy for software design and development. Clearly, a line has been drawn.
Despite this momentum, at this late stage it seems that no one company has emerged from the Toronto area as the A-Team of agile development with Rails. Sure, the two-thirtys have a distinct presence (though they don’t seem to venture on programming territory), and Prince Edward Island has the infamous silveroranges, but (surprisingly) neither of these have embraced Ruby on Rails as an application framework and a metaphor for software development. The closest Toronto comes is (Rails core) Tobias Lutke’s Ottawa outfit, Jaded Pixel.
The time has come to create such a force. I should know. I’ve been completely absorbed for the past year in all things Ruby and Rails—programming, learning, salivating, and paying attention. All that’s needed now is a crack team of developers. Passionate, switched-on people who really get the whole ‘getting real’ concept. I already know of a few worthy individuals, but if there are others out there, I want to hear from you.
If you are a Ruby on Rails developer in or around the GTA and want to get together for a fireside chat on world domination, drop me a line.