Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Ruby on Rails: Day 1

So we're working on another prototype/demo application at work, and we're at the point we need to have it all start coming together with the database.

As an experiment of sorts I took what we had today and started porting it to RoR. By the end of the day I had most of it converted, and some of the pages were also now wired up to the database.

As much as I like MonoRail, and even though it's probably the platform we eventually deploy with, there was no question in my mind that I was much more productive with RoR.

First off, the templates use a real programming language, which beats NVelocity anyday (though MonoRail will be getting Rook done soon, and has a Boo implementation). Wait a sec, let me frame this better. This isn't a RoR is better than MonoRail post. MonoRail is younger, and has to work within the confines of a much less flexible language. One without transparent AOP, dynamic Types, etc etc. What MonoRail is is really really great.

But what RoR is is simply better than anything .Net has to offer (as far as Website development goes; not everything's a nail after all). It's simple, it's fast, it's fun. What's the hardest thing for most .Net developers to grasp?

Good design.

At least it has been for me. At least it seems to be for most people on the ASP.NET forums asking for help.

One of RoR's biggest advantages is that it presents you with a prepackaged great design structure, and you just need to fill in some implementation details. There's the Views, Models, Controllers, Helpers, Components, Partials... It might not be everything to everyone, but it's a lot more than ASP.NET has to offer, and a lot more than some O/R Mapper vendors try to push which amounts to the same ol' same ol' sphaghetti code, but spread over two pages (an aspx and codebehind) instead of one (asp).

Yes, any good design involves writing helpers, business objects, server controls, perhaps a service layer, and there's nothing about .Net that holds you back there, but it's not the same thing as getting a great design right out of the box either.
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