Programming frameworks and libraries have become incredibly popular. A good framework can make a programmers life much easier and remove some of the more tedious and difficult tasks associated with building a complex web site. One of the frameworks that have seen a meteoric rise in use recently is called Ruby on Rails.
Before describing Ruby on Rails it is key to understand its foundation: the programming language Ruby. Invented in Japan during the 1990s, Ruby is an objected-oriented programming language that was designed to be used in general programming applications. The emphasis by the language’s original designers was to create something flexible and fun for other programmers to use on their projects. Ruby’s level of popularity was moderate at best until the release of Ruby on Rails by David Heinemeier Hansson in 2004.
Ruby on Rails, the web application framework built to be used with Ruby, is designed with the same principles as Ruby itself. Ruby on Rails centers on the idea of building complex websites in as fast and efficient way as humanly possible. This is accomplished thanks to Ruby on Rails’ set of standard database and programming specifications. Classes and objects in the code are tied directly to corresponding tables in the database.
There is a now infamous technology demo of Ruby on Rails in which David Heinemeier Hansson builds a simple blogging application in less than ten minutes. This speed is what using the Ruby on Rails framework is all about. The framework handles the tedious tasks such as updating rows in a database or deleting records automatically. This leaves the non-standard tasks to the developer, which is the entire goal.
Of course, as with all things in computer science, Ruby on Rail is not without its own controversy. It grew such a cult like following so quickly in the web development industry that it was only natural detractors would appear on the scene as well. The people who question Ruby on Rails’ usefulness cite concerns over stability and the fact that, while Rails is supposed to be incredibly flexible, there do not appear to be many innovative or commercially successful web sites built on it.
Ruby on Rails is still such a new technology that over time these concerns will be solved and addressed. If any web developers are looking for a change of pace, or a new way to build web sites, they might want to learn Ruby and give Rails a try. The speed increase for deploying web sites might make you leave your old tools and techniques behind.