Welcome!

Ruby-On-Rails Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Hovhannes Avoyan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Ruby-On-Rails, Machine Learning , RubyonRailsSeminar.com

Ruby-On-Rails: Article

The Jury's Still Out On Ruby On Rails (RoR) and AJAX

"As far as the landscape goes, there will be a place for all these technologies."

In most cases I'm a patient and tolerant person. Once you get to know me, I'm easy to get along with, occasionally complex, but not very often. My patience and tolerance has pretty much gone out the window in the last week or so. It all stems from two technologies: Ruby On Rails (RoR) and AJAX.

Now let's be fair, no one really gave a garbage-collected object about AJAX until those boffins at Google brought us the "suggest" and maps utilities (this is what happens when you give programmers spare time; they come up with good stuff). What followed were Web sites, APIs, tutorials, and more applications than you can shake a stick at. JavaScript used to be a dirty word among Java programmers a number of years ago. At one point you may as well have called JavaBlogs JavaScriptBlogs.

We used to laugh, have secretly coded words when talking among JavaScript programmers, just to make them feel out of place. JavaScript was the annoying little brother that got in the way when you were trying to impress your new girlfriend. Now VCs are rubbing their hands together waiting to throw money at the next line of AJAX-fueled apps. For about two days I was thinking, "I may actually have to learn some of this stuff," then I came to my senses and thought better of it.

My main problem with all of this goes back to my original problem with all JavaScript things from years ago - browser compatibility. I still can't, to this day, get an AJAX app to work on my Pocket PC version of Internet Explorer (in fact I still can't get a decent JVM for it either). Another issue for me is that everyone has conveniently forgotten about testing any of this stuff with a dial-up connection (or at least it's never mentioned). Is a user seriously going to sit and wait for the data to bounce to and fro every time the mouse moves? Don't get me wrong, there are some real nice applications about, but at the end of the day AJAX is still the name of a cream cleanser in the UK. I usually wash the sink with it.

The arguments, agreements, and articulate announcements about RoR are also currently, in my opinion, spiraling out of control. It sort of reminds me of the same sort of arguments regarding Python and Java a couple of years ago. Ruby, as a language, has been kicking about for years but never really broke into the mainstream. RoR came about from a project management tool for 37 Signals. Now even the most seasoned Web app programmers can be in a complete giddy spell on how they can knock up a MVC-type Web app in, well, a bit less time than before.

I thought we'd gone beyond this "technology x is better than technology y" debate when .NET was supposed to be the biggest threat to humanity. We all gave it six months to blow over and then the landscape was quiet once again. Now the soothsayers are out again with their scythes of code reduction telling me that RoR will replace Java in the way that Web apps are done. The Java camp seems to be extremely defensive and a touch prickly toward the arguments, any argument in fact, and in some respects it's how we react to these comments that make us easy prey with the emerging technologies.

As far as the landscape goes, there will be a place for all these technologies. Some will be adopted more than others. Would you write a multi-language banking application in RoR? I wouldn't. What I do keep in my tool belt is a fresh open mind to new things. I looked at RoR, played with it, tried a few things, and thought, "Not for me now" and uninstalled it. More to the point I have more than enough paid work in Java, PHP, and a heap of other things. So I tend to go where the money is calling to make sure there's food on the table.

Where do I stand in all of this? AJAX, well I've seen good uses and some pretty dreadful ones too. These are just the baby steps of what's to come with AJAX-driven apps. I still need some convincing whether we'll all be lapping up AJAX apps to every Web site we ever go to. And where there is JavaScript, there are browser-compatibility issues.

With Ruby On Rails, I'm taking a back seat for six months to see what happens. I don't jump on these things easily, just like I didn't jump on Python. There is a place for it but I still think it's in the realms of the developer fantasy of "this might take over the world one day," when the rest of people really couldn't give a hoot about what language it was written in.

As a client said to me yesterday, "I don't care what you use, as long as it works." I feel the same. Enjoy what you enjoy.

More Stories By Jason Bell

Jason Bell is founder of Aerleasing, a B2B auction site for the airline industry. He has been involved in numerous business intelligence companies and start ups and is based in Northern Ireland. Jason can be contacted at [email protected]

Comments (10) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
jhujsak 10/03/06 04:03:26 PM EDT

Once you get over the inevitable hype curve, you realize that Ajax is just another tool in the developer's tool box. In particular, it's a great panacea for implementing complex, adaptive, data driven Web forms. Instead of managing a complex state machine with interdependent server and client side scripting, you just modify the form in place as the user provides more data. That alone makes Ajax worthwhile. Sure, the new graphical Ajax driven interfaces are fun to play with but at then end of the day it's all about managing data efficiently. That's where Ajax shines. It helps you achieve a nice, tight, minimal implementation while avoiding abstruse and convoluted code.

Lee Hericks 09/19/06 10:16:23 PM EDT

First, let me say that while AJAX is fun, it is not always a best solution. Programming web applications with Ruby on Rails is insanely easy once you learn the conventions. You have to get a feel for the Ruby language first. Then you understand why things are done the way they are. First, hooking up to a database is easy. You add your username and password to the generated database.yml file. Then you develop models in a structured application directory. There are many helpers to easily allow you to model complex relationships, and ActiveRecord will convert the data into objects. I have programmed in PHP and Java, and I tried to learn Hibernate. It is just too complex. Active Record says good bye to boring SQL and hello to OO-style data access. Then, as if that wasn`t cool enough, throw in controllers, actions, and views. Add one line hooks and filters to easily check that a user is logged in or to log web activity. RoR is an amazing and simple framework. It is very true that it`s a new way to program and looks at conventions, but it`s what we have been preaching for the longest time in Software Engineering class, follow best practices. Some amazing web developers and a growing community are pouring great ideas into this project. I will agree with you that the jury is still out for AJAX and best uses of it, but the Prototype Javascript framework has great cross-browser support and that`s why so many web frameworks use it. Even better, Prototype creator Sam created code so you can type easy ruby and have it sent over as javascript. Delete an element on the page? page.remove `elementid`. Simple. Anyway, I understand that it takes a bit of learning to really utilize RoR, but the time saved is money earned, and RoR has internationalization. It could handle your banking app, and the code base could easily be organized. For more on the ease of development, you should see Active Records Migrations and Testing. Some really cool best practices here. Cheers! Lee.

j j 09/19/06 05:15:47 PM EDT

In most cases I'm a patient and tolerant person. Once you get to know me, I'm easy to get along with, occasionally complex, but not very often. My patience and tolerance has pretty much gone out the window in the last week or so. It all stems from two technologies: Ruby On Rails (RoR) and AJAX.

n d 09/19/06 04:56:57 PM EDT

In most cases I'm a patient and tolerant person. Once you get to know me, I'm easy to get along with, occasionally complex, but not very often. My patience and tolerance has pretty much gone out the window in the last week or so. It all stems from two technologies: Ruby On Rails (RoR) and AJAX.

Thor 06/23/06 12:47:41 PM EDT

I think that it is a myth that you are tied to rails conventions. Dig around in the config directory sometime. You can override most rails conventions with your own if you want to.

Dion Hinchcliffe 03/05/06 01:01:18 PM EST

Jason, I'm afraid I have to disagree with you on this occasion. Ajax and RoR are two of the most exciting and compelling things I've seen on the development scene in almost half a decade. The cautionary tale of Python is an appropriate one but it's never a language that looked very good under scrutiny. Ruby, however, very much does. I think you can safely bet heavily on both Ruby and RoR today for a number of solid reasons.

Dion Hinchcliffe
Editor-in-Chief
Web 2.0 Journal

SYS-CON India News Desk 03/03/06 03:05:46 PM EST

In most cases I'm a patient and tolerant person. Once you get to know me, I'm easy to get along with, occasionally complex, but not very often. My patience and tolerance has pretty much gone out the window in the last week or so. It all stems from two technologies: Ruby On Rails (RoR) and AJAX.

Jason Bell 11/30/05 06:36:05 AM EST

RMX, I agree with what you say.

I've been playing with Rails again over the last seven days and I stepped out of Rails conventions my development ground to a halt. That's no fault of anyone, it's just a case of that's how it is and you have to adapt.

Jason Bell 11/30/05 06:30:53 AM EST

Following on from my article I have now seen (and verified) that Ajax does work on the PocketPC.

http://ajaxian.com/archives/2005/11/ajax_on_the_poc.html

Plus it gives a mention that Opera have implemented it in their mobile edition browser.

RMX 11/30/05 04:17:02 AM EST

You write "I don't jump on these things easily, just like I didn't jump on Python. "

Yeah.. and that newfangled Structured Programming just might catch on too; and those dangerous toys like Object Oriented and Functional programming are just so far out there they'll need decades to settle down before I'd jump on that train.

More seriously, Ruby and Rails are the right tools for some jobs (database-backed web apps) and not others (legacy backends that don't follow the rails conventions).

AJAX is the right tool for some applications (intranet applications where you have control over the browser) and not others (general web apps where devices like cell phones are an increasing share of the users).

And neither are the final solution to end all progrmaming languages. Just as dynamic languages with very rich OO features(Python/Ruby) are displacing the less rich static OO languages (Java/C#) and those in turn had largely replaced the previous generation of hybrid OO languages (C++/Objective C) - future languages will bring even more developer efficiency and displace Python and Ruby.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
In this presentation, Striim CTO and founder Steve Wilkes will discuss practical strategies for counteracting fraud and cyberattacks by leveraging real-time streaming analytics. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Steve Wilkes, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Striim, will provide a detailed look into leveraging streaming data management to correlate events in real time, and identify potential breaches across IoT and non-IoT systems throughout the enterprise. Strategies for processing massive ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, an entertainment executive/TV producer turned serial entrepreneur, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to ma...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.