February 27, 2024
Why developers still love Ruby on Rails



This article was originally published on .cult by Patrick Helm. .cult is a Berlin-based community platform for developers. We write about all things career-related, make original documentaries, and share heaps of other untold developer stories from around the world.

Once, there was a little online quiz with 10 questions.

Each question displayed a tiny method and one had to guess if it was defined in the Ruby core language, or within the Rails framework.

Neither Matz nor DHH scored 10/10.

Yukihiro Matsumoto, also known as Matz, is the creator of the Ruby language.

David Heinemeier Hanson, aka DHH, invented the Rails framework.

Well, if neither of them can differentiate between Ruby and Ruby on Rails, please bear with me; I might mix a few things up as well.

Why did I fall in love with Ruby on Rails?

Over a decade ago, during a semester break, I released a tweet saying that I wanted to learn something new.

A friend replied: There is a new kid on the block, called ‘Ruby On Rails’.

I then started following a guide on how to build a Twitter clone and a simple blog with RoR.

That took me less than 2 days. Mindblown!

Working with the syntax of Ruby/Rails, quite often it almost reads like an English text.

It’s no wonder then that the Rails doctrine is ‘Optimize for programmer happiness’.

After this experience, I went to do an internship explicitly using Ruby on Rails.

This tutorial and the internship that followed were the reasons why I’ve been enjoying the Ruby/Rails world for over a decade now.

A few of my favourite tools

This world consists of a great community and an even greater ecosystem.

Packages in Ruby are called gems. So we got a great packaging system called rubygems.

Two other tools I use very frequently are Rubular to play around with regular expressions, and The Ruby Toolbox to find some existing solutions to the problems we have to solve.

I’m (still) lovin it

Even today, I’m still a ‘Rubyist by day and night’.

Rails and Ruby evolve continuously. As a tradition, a new Ruby major/minor version is released every Christmas.

As a present to the community.

Rails might not be the coolest kid on the block anymore.

It’s grown up, but still surprises the community with new useful features and improvements.

What I still value quite a lot is ‘Rails is omakase’. Aka, it ships with a lot of defaults which are easy to change!

If you’re not happy with the default testing framework at a new rails project, you can swap it out with whatever you prefer! Do you just want to use Rails as an API and not ship HTML over the wire?

That’s exactly what we’re using Rails for over at Honeypot.

Is anyone still using Rails?

A common phrase I read or hear from time to time is ‘Isn’t Rails dead yet?’.

Just recently Rails 7.1 has been released with over 800 different individual contributors!

And that’s consistent with the recent history of Rails development.

So maintenance-wise it’s definitely not dead yet.

Almost a year ago the Rails Foundation was founded.

This is a non-profit organisation aimed at improving the documentation, education, marketing, and events around Rails. One of its major milestones was hosting the very first Rails World conference in Amsterdam this year. Tickets were sold out within 45 minutes! I’d say, that’s a sign of a pretty active community.

But does it scale?

“Ok, so it’s not dead. But does it scale?!”

That’s a phrase I read/hear even more often.

As we now already know, Ruby is not the newest kid on the block anymore, it’s definitely not the fastest one either.

But did you know that you’re most likely using a Ruby On Rails website almost daily?

I’m talking about GitHub and GitLab. Both of them are pretty classic Ruby On Rails applications.

GitLab is an open-source web application, in case you want to browse the codebase 😉

Another company that you might have heard of, and that is still using Ruby On Rails, is Shopify!

And since we’re talking about scaling, let me present you some facts about Shopify with regard to scaling Rails:

  • it uses the most recent HEAD version of Rails
  • it serves up to 1.3 million requests per second
  • it serves ~10% of ALL eCommerce traffic

Let me also list a few more companies that currently are, or were, using Rails: Twitch, SoundCloud, Airbnb, and of course Honeypot.

So, if Rails is good enough for a product like GitHub and Shopify, it’s probably safe to say:

It did scale!

Let me close with a quote from DHH taken straight from our upcoming documentary about Rails:

You start down really low, really simple, having to learn very little, and then you can go all the way to become the top person in your company, in your industry, even if you don’t have the credentials. I love that part of Ruby on Rails. I love the diversity of the people who’ve been able to create a career in programming because of this framework that we’ve created.

Watch the trailer of Honeypot’s upcoming documentary about Ruby on Rails (coming to you on Nov 9). 





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