[OSM-dev] osm on rails

Ben Gimpert ben at somethingmodern.com
Thu Jul 20 12:40:39 BST 2006

As one of our resident Ruby evangelists, I'll chime in with some

1)  Rails has an immense amount a buzz, and thus looks great on a CV.
2)  Rails is promoted as a silver bullet for making sexy new web sites
	easier to develop.
3)  Rails provides an API for making web pages more dynamic (AJAX).
4)  Rails sits atop a programming language that is higher level than
	what most people are accustomed to using.
5)  Rails is free-as-in-beer.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else out there?  Does anyone else
remember the mid-90's?  "Rails is to Ruby, as an Applet is to Java."

To me, Rails is an immensely overrated system for making easy websites
slightly easier to write.  Big whoop?!

Rails developers are shackled to MVC whether they want it or not, and
Rails is fundamentally a one-to-many RDBMS system.  How does this play
nicely with GIS-y stuff?  With wiki versioning?  How will Rails'
automatically-generated SQL not be *slower* than what we have right now?

Once developers realise they still have to write nasty SQL in Rails, and
once they realise you still have to tweak lots of AJAX JavaScript to do
anything interesting, and once they realise you still have to configure
deployment environments...  Then they'll put down the koolaid and go
back to writing challenging websites with robust technologies like Ruby
atop Mongrel or modruby.

All else being equal, I think the main benefit of the world jumping on
the Rails bandwagon will be *Ruby* becoming more popular as a language.
Again, remember crap-tastic technologies like Java applets *promoting*
Java as a language.

Now if porting to *OSM* to Rails is a good excuse for cleaning up the
server code, for simplying the setup of a development environment, for
fleshing out the rest of the REST API, and padding our CV's (seriously),
then I'm all for it.

Whatever it takes, man.


On Thu, 20 Jul 06 @11:40am, Richard Fairhurst wrote:
> Steve wrote:
> >With rails, hacking on the server at home would be much easier as it
> >runs on anything and is much simpler to hack on than setting up apache
> >etc. The unicode stuff becomes easier. Certain bits will be sped up and
> >it'll become much easier to add features that I want to. The big apache
> >rewrite directives won't be needed and the code becomes somewhat easier
> >to read and maintain. I've hacked a bit on it and given that OSM is
> >already in ruby it's going quickly.
> >
> >Any thoughts?
> Easy installation is definitely good. Installing mod_ruby and eruby is  
> making my brain hurt.
> Only concern I'd raise is that stability is a real virtue. The move to  
> REST happened two days after I'd worked out how to use XML-RPC, now  
> this just after I've got mod_ruby working (though not eruby, yet).  
> Obviously that's coincidence, but moving around too frequently doesn't  
> encourage developers. I'd say go for Rails if we're going to stick  
> with it.
> cheers
> Richard
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