Rails on the Run

Rails experiments by Matt Aimonetti

Browsing Posts tagged rails

This is huge!

While people still try to find some drama an in hypothetical war between rails and merb.

The Rails team and the Merb team announced working together on a joined version of the 2 frameworks. This is so exciting, nobody believed it could ever happen (I personally, had my serious doubt).

Yehuda had a great post laying down the plan and explaining things in details. Check out David’s post explaining why he wants us to work together and his vision of a better Ruby world.

I have to say that I have been impressed by the Rails core team and especially David (DHH).

I’ve known David for few years now and we had long/heated discussions on topics like i18n/l10n for Rails. David is known to be a very opinionated person. But if you come up with the right arguments, he can be convinced and when that happens, he is willing to move forward and shake things up.

This merge is a concrete example that David and the rest of the Rails team cares about Rails and the Ruby community more than we usually give them credit for. As a unified team, we are going to change the way web development in Ruby is done!

But what does it mean for you?

I put together a FAQ video here is the transcript:

Hi, I’m Matt Aimonetti from the merb core team and as you might have heard, a big announcement was made earlier today.

I did this video to hopefully answer the questions you might have.

Q: So what’s the big news?

  • merb and rails team will work together on the next version of their frameworks
  • merb 2.0 and rails 3.0 share the same common endpoint
  • we realized we now have the same objectives and agreed on all the key principles.
  • merb will provide Rails with agnosticism, modularity, improved performance and a public API.
  • The end product will be called Rails 3.0 but what real matters is that it’s a huge gain for the entire community.

Q: What??? I thought there was a war going on between Rails and merb, what happened?

  • There was no war between rails and merb
  • We created merb because rails was not fitting us
  • We wanted better performance, more choices/ more modularity and a Public API.
  • The Rails team now embraces these concepts and want Rails to follow them, so why not work together?

Q: Wait, does that mean that merb is dead?

  • Absolutely not!
  • merb development won’t stop, we are going to keep on releasing updates until rails 3.0
  • clear migration path, and upgrading to rails 3.0 will be as trivial as upgrading from rails 2.x to Rails 3.0

Q: What does the timeline look like?

We just started getting together and discuss the technical details. We are shooting for a release at RailsConf 2009. However it’s hard to estimate this kind of things so again, that’s just an estimate :)

Q: I just started a merb project, so what now?

I’m sure you had valid reasons to use merb, you needed modularity, performance and a solid API.

Keep on using Merb, we won’t let you down. The good news is that the next version of merb (rails 3.0) will be even awesomer!

Q: What about my client who was looking at using merb for his new project?

If your client is going to be using merb for valid reasons (and not, just because it’s not rails) he should still use merb, but with the full understanding that he/she will end up using Rails in 6 months or so. Again, Rails 3.0 will have what pushed you to use merb.

Q: I’ve been involved with the merb-book, what will happen with this project?

  • rails 3.0 won’t get released right away
  • still need awesome documentation
  • if we look at rails 3.0 as merb 2.0, we can easily imagine how the current work can be extended to the new version.
  • rails team will also include an evangelism team which I will be part of, so will be able to focus more on projects like the book.

Q: I’ve been working on a merb plugin, what should I do?

Keep working on it! We’ll assist you with the migration process and the new solid API.

Q: What if I still have questions?

Come talk with me, or any members from the new team. We’ll be open to hear your questions, worries, frustrations.

merb always valued its developers and we will continue to do so but at a bigger scale.

Concretely, nothing changes for Merb users. People loving Merb should not worry. The way you build merb apps won’t change until merb2.0/rails3.0. We will still work on your favorite framework and improve it.

Lori Holden worked on merb_sequel and we should release a 1.0 release of the plugin in a few days.

I’m sure this news comes as a shock for many of you, but try to not see Rails 3.0 as the way Rails is right now. Imagine a version of Rails with true modularity and agnosticism (sequel, DM and AR will still be supported) and the same type of performance as what you get with Merb. In other words, the rails world is about to discover the power of merb!

Here is what Yehuda explicitly says in his blog post:

  • Rails will become more modular, starting with a rails-core, and including the ability to opt in or out of specific components. [...]
  • We will port all of our performance improvements into Rails. This includes architectural decisions that are big performance wins.[..]
  • As of Rails 3, Rails will have a defined public API with a test suite for that API. [..]
  • Rails will still ship with the “stack” version as the default (just as Merb does since 1.0), but the goal is to make it easy to do with Rails what people do with Merb today.
  • Rails will be modified to more easily support DataMapper or Sequel as first-class ORMs. [..]
  • Rails will continue their recent embrace of Rack, which [..] will improve the state of modular, sharable logic between applications.
  • In general, we will take a look at features in Merb that are not in Rails (the most obvious example is the more robust router) and find a way to bring them into Rails.

Personal perspective

I’m personally really excited about this opportunity. I had a hard time believing that we could work together but I was proved wrong. We have many challenges in front of us, but watching the two teams working together is very reassuring.

I’m also glad to see that we will have a Rails Evangelism team that I will be part of. I strongly believe that one of the many reasons why merb has been so successful is because we work and listen to our community. We have put a tremendous amount of energy trying to understand what you guys need and what you like and dislike. In return, we saw many people working hard on the wiki and the merb-book.

Can you imagine doing that with almost 4 Million Rails developers?

I’m also looking forward to working with a team and reaching to even more people.

Other news related to the merge:

If you have any questions, or if you want me to publicly answer questions on your blog please contact me. I’ll do my best to get back to everyone.

Wow, it’s been a while since I blogged. With all the cool kids saying that spending time reading RSS feeds is overrated (see Defunkt’s keynote for instance) I even wonder if people will ever read this post!

Anyways, I have been quite busy preparing courses for classes I gave to a bunch a great Engineers at one of the Fortune 100 companies based in San Diego. I was also planning my big vacation trip to Europe and wrapping up few projects.

However, during my exile overseas, I came to the conclusion that Rubyists don’t scale. Since Twitter became stable again, we don’t hear many people ranting about Rails not scaling anymore. With one of my clients’ app handling around 7 million requests/day I can tell you Ruby/Merb do scale quite well! But ruby developers don’t seem to scale for some reason.

Maybe saying that we(Rubyists) don’t scale isn’t technically correct but that’s basically what one of my client told me.

Let’s go back in time a little bit and follow my client who we will call clientX.

  • ClientX has a great concept and wants to conquer the internet.
  • ClientX hears that Rails is the way to go.
  • ClientX hires a contractor/mercenary/freelancer/guns for hire/consultant (aka Me)
  • Me builds a killer app using Merb (killing framework)

  • ClientX raises loads of $$$

  • ClientX wants to hire a team because Me doesn’t want to become a FTE

  • ClientX and Me look for Rubyists wanting to relocate and get a decent salary
  • ClientX *can’t find someone they consider good enough and who would accept their package

  • Many JAVA guys are available on location and accept lower packages

  • Ruby app gets ported over to JAVA
  • Me sad :(

So is it really the Rubyists’ fault if we don’t want to relocate and only accept higher packages? Should I blame Obie for telling people to charge more and teaching how to hustle? Or should we just tell clients that it’s time to get used to working remotely?

Honestly, I don’t think any of the above explanations are valid. Ruby is the new/hot technology and very few people have the skills and experience to lead major projects. These people make a good living and enjoy their “freedom” and dream of building their own products. Most of them/us value their work environment, family and are reluctant to move.


At the same time, companies do need people locally(at least a core team) and can’t always afford the cool kids.

ClientX, quite frustrated by the whole hiring process told me once: “you Ruby folks are too unavailable and difficult to work with! We need a committed team that actually cares about the company/product.”

That hurts when you worked hard on a project and just can’t satisfy the client by finding guys willing to relocate and work for them. It gets even more painful when your code gets entirely ported over to JAVA!

But at the same time I understand ClientX’s motivation, PHP guys are cheaper, JAVA guys are more available, why in the word did we go with Ruby and are now struggling finding people?

Once again, there is positive and negative side in everything, by choosing Ruby and a “great contractor” ClientX was able to catch up with the competition and even pass them in no time. They quickly raised good money and got everything they needed to become #1. I don’t believe it would have been possible to do the same thing so quickly with JAVA for instance. However choosing a cutting edge technology means you need to look harder for talented people.

It’s too bad the code gets rewritten in a different language but at the same time, I do my best to facilitate the process and to keep a good relation with my client. There was nothing personal in the decision, it’s just too bad we were not able to keep on using the latest/coolest/awesomess technology available :)

To finish on a positive note, here is the solution to scale your Ruby task force provided to you by the #caboose wisdom:

Based on my conversations with other #caboosers who hire other devs, the word in the street is that you just need to get one or two great ruby guys (who will probably cost you a lot) and find a bunch of smart people to train. You’ll end up with an awesome team of scalable rubyists ;)

I realized I haven’t updated this blog in a while. Here is a quick update on what’s happened and on things to come:

  • RailsConf 08. Great conference, probably my last Rails Conf though. I’ll be in Orlando for Ruby Conf 08 and I’ll focus on 1 or 2 local conferences (probably mountain west and another one).

  • MerbCamp 08 in San Diego this Fall organized by SD Ruby. Details are not finalized yet but Yehuda Katz announced it during his Merb talk at RailsConf.

  • Moved this blog to a new Joyent accelerator with git support and finally have the possibility to use Ambition! (planning on moving from Mephisto to Feather)

  • Launched a client’s Merb app and getting around 3 million hits/day. Merb is just awesome. (more info when the client’s app gets out of beta)

  • I’ll join Gregg Pollack from http://railsenvy.com/ during Qcon and take part in the Ruby for the Enterprise track. My talk will focus on Merb usage in real life.

  • Renamed my github username, new repo url: http://github.com/mattetti (sorry about that)