11 Mar 2006 prla   » (Apprentice)

Power and Versatility

Many reasons are behind Ruby on Rails’ rise to the top of web app construction frameworks, not the least of them being the thoughts, beliefs and points of view of its creator, David Heinemeier Hansson. Something which gets reflected not only on Rails itself but also on 37 Signals entire set of products. Incidentally, they went on and squeezed their own fruit. The resulting juice is fortunately available for all to see (or read) in the form of the Getting Real book (available for $19 in online format, sample chapters on the website).

What led me to write about this (which isn’t exactly news, many have blogged about the book release a couple of weeks back) was one of David’s latest blog posts, entitled Distinguishing Power from Versatility, following a short critique he himself wrote about recent James Gosling's declarations. One quote I believe is revealing of particular enlightenment:

The greater the versatility, the higher the abstraction, the less useful for the specifics. Saying you’ll be everything to everyone, from “web presentations” to “interplanetary navigation” as Gosling puts it, is not free. You have to give up other desirable attributes to get that. Which is fine, of course. If your model of the world is that you’re stranded on a dessert island and you can only bring one tool. Or if your model of programmers are that they’re too busy/uninterested/dumb to to ever learn more than one platform.

Interesting how the views of a single developer can instil in me the desire of trying out different products of his labour. In particular, I think it’s high time I take a serious look at Ruby on Rails (no matter how much I’ve been loving TurboGears lately).

I know. I’m a year late.


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