Revisiting Ruby on Rails

I’ve blogged about Ruby on Rails quite a few times in the past 18 years. I’ve delivered lots of Rails apps, I’ve used it for my own company, and I have been a historic fan of Rails against all odds and against all opinions. The levels of productivity I’ve experienced with it are unparalleled all things considered (and I’ve tried quite a few web frameworks over the years.)

This is why I’m thrilled to see that not only Ruby on Rails is still alive and kicking, but even better, that it is thriving as it celebrates its 20th birthday!

Imagine that. 20 years. In the software industry it’s a very long time. So what’s a developer to do to celebrate such a milestone? Well, you guessed it:

$ gem install rails
$ rails new app

During the process of playing with Rails again I was surprised and delighted to see… how little it has changed! Building an app with Rails is essentially the same today as 20 years ago. Same commands, same reflexes, same high speed. Sign o’the times, the scaffold generator gives you a Dockerfile now.

I’m watching David Heinemeier Hansson’s Rails World keynote as I write this, and three things came to my mind:

  1. The original Ruby on Rails demo by DHH (Brazil, 2005) which actually also provided a substantial boost to the sales of TextMate!
  2. Apple’s own article about Ruby on Rails in the Developer Connection website, which brought lots of interest on Rails… and on Mac OS X as a serious web development platform (kids, back in those days MacBooks weren’t nearly as popular as they are today)
  3. DHH kicked off his keynote talking about the evolution of the Federal Reserve interest rates in the past 20 years, and how it impacted the evolution of software frameworks. I think that point was spot-on. I love to see those intersections between society, economy, and our software industry.

Ruby on Rails, boring technology, server-side rendering, and the general idea of the monolithic architecture, will always have a special place in my heart and in my career as a developer, and I think we’re going to be hearing a lot about it in the near future. Here’s for 20 more years!