Rails Wrap-up

So, I came to this Rails conference looking for a few things. It’s not over, but I think I’ve got a good sense what I’ll walk away with tomorrow.

I started to learn a bit about Rails while considering joining a software start-up (in the non-profit space). I spent a month hammering away with a few O’Reilly books and a sample project, then got pulled away by real world concerns like starting up my new career fast so my family won’t starve. I got far enough to get the concepts and philosophy, master the innovative database management (activerecord), and start an app that I plan to finish and publish as part of Techcafeteria someday. Along the way, I loved the rapid development features and recognized Rails as a bit of a conceptual leap in programming/scripting, that values efficiency of following conventions over coding. Being oriented toward finding the fastest paths to the best results, I was also intrigued by how Rails builds Ajax functionality into the code (I just never bothered to get beyond the basics of Javascript, preferring server-side programming, I bias I now regret…) But I also grew concerned about the platforms speed and scalability, concerns that my friends at Social Source Commons (SSC) would second, I suspect.

So, the four areas that the conference could have helped me with, and how it did:

  1. Learning more of the scripting language. Not so much — maybe a referral to the book I’m missing that will glide me right over that hump.
  2. Ajax intro – pretty good. I attended a few sessions on Prototype and Scriptaculous that gave me a far better handle on how they work .
  3. Ruby Scaling — an awesome session on the proxy cache and other options out there to speed up Rails, with pointers to what bottlenecks it. This was likely the most valuable thing, and I’ll be contacting Gunner to offer to take a look at the SSC platform and see if we can apply some of what I learned.
  4. Where it’s going, as I reported on yesterday. Among web scripting languages, PHP and ASP/.NET are the kings today. My prediction is that Ruby on Rails will eclipse them, and gain broad adoption among web 2.0 developers and corporations looking for in-house app development tools. The main limitation – performance – is being addressed and will be fixed, no question.

The benefit of having a functional application roughly 60 seconds after you think of a name for it is phenomenal, and the developers are completely geared toward continuing to make it the out of the box solution for speedy delivery of standards-based, current tech web applications.

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