Why I think you have to consider Ruby on Rails

The whole debate that I had the other day about .NET developers learning Ruby on Rails stemmed from an earlier conversation about how much more productive you can be in Ruby on Rails vs. Java or .NET. Based on what I keep hearing, I think it’s really hard to ignore Ruby on Rails.

Just to be clear, I have learned Ruby on Rails by playing around with it on side projects, but I haven’t done any big real world apps in it yet. But I have too much evidence in favor of Ruby on Rails.

  • People I respect telling me that they estimate that they get things done 4x faster in Ruby on Rails.
  • Numerous blog posts (which unfortunately I didn’t bookmark) of .NET devs who took the plunge, decided to do a project in Ruby on Rails instead of .NET, and finished earlier than they would’ve with .NET, even with the learning curve of learning something new.
  • A large company had a team that wanted to use RoR for a project, but the company is largely a Java shop and told them no. The team went and did it anyway and 4 months later they were done. The higher-ups were mad and sat down and estimated how long it would take to rewrite it in Java and estimated it at 18 months.

If I were hearing this from just a couple people, I could discount it as fanboyism, exaggeration, or whatever. But I’m hearing too much of this sort of thing.

Just imagine if you could cut the cost of software development to 25% of its current cost. Think of how much money your IT department can save. Think of how much more you could accomplish each year.

Sadly, it seems that very few companies are adopting Ruby on Rails. Maybe they aren’t hearing these anecdotes, or maybe they’re dismissing it as fanboyism and exaggeration. Or maybe they feel that their current IT staff wouldn’t be capable of succeeding or that they won’t want to learn a new language and a new way of doing things.

If we were talking about a slight improvement in productivity, you could easily say that you’re sticking with .NET or Java or whatever because that’s what your team knows well, and I might say that you have a valid argument. But a 4x productivity gain? How can you ignore that? Even if my numbers are exaggerated and it’s only a 2x productivity gain, how could you ignore that?

I hope that IT departments really get serious about this, because a company could have a huge advantage if they were able to complete 4x the work each year. Personally, I really hope to use Ruby on Rails sometime myself because I want to do things this fast. I remember when I first started doing ASP.NET MVC and I cut my usual estimates in half and how awesome that felt. If there is a better and faster way to do something, then count me in.