Nick Flückiger

Photo by Jp Valery via Unsplash

Working with a technology each and every day fundamentally impacts the decision making and development life cycle of your applications. It shapes the way you develop, test and deliver your product. For us the shaping technology that is driving the hard bargain is Ruby on Rails.

Should we go with the time?

Rails, which has been around for the better part of two decades, has proven to be a loyal, trustworthy and reliable tool in our tech stack. But in recent years the industry has seen a shift in the way development occurs in the modern world. Companies are moving towards various styles of developing their systems and reiterating on old principles in a new fashion. From javascript-based systems to microservice architectures over applications that solely operate on remote data storages such as Firebase.

So why stick with a 20-year-old technology and not try something new?

What is Ruby on Rails?

Before we can tackle the advantages and disadvantages of keeping Rails on, we ought to get on the same page on what we are talking about.

Ruby on Rails, or Rails for short, is a Ruby framework that provides developers with a battery included tool belt for web development. It has utilities for using the latest javascript packages, templating and a clear model for separation of responsibility.

When talking about a framework we most often refer to a collection of functionality that aims to ease the development of a particular area. In the case of Rails that area is the web. The platform of the future.

Three very strong positives for Rails

A powerful base

One of the main reasons Rails is still a beloved piece of software is the fact that it is built upon an even more beloved base. The Ruby programming language.

Ruby is one of the most battle-tested languages in the field. The main language focus is to provide a simple, streamlined and natural language like programming experience.

No low-level fiddling with memory, no mess with pointers and references.

Just a great high-level tool belt for every job imaginable.

A great community

In addition to a grand technological base, the framework also has a large and ever-growing user-base which provides the old tech with frequent updates and works towards transitioning the framework into modern approaches.

The user base also provides the project with feedback, bug reports and suggestions for improvement. Because the group of contributors are from all walks of life and work at different companies across different industries, the project has been pushed to leave open many configurations to the developer, lessening the cost of adopting a different style of application and development.

Due to this dynamic collection of updates, issues and improvements the ruby programming as well as the Rails framework have withstood the test of time and are more popular than ever before.

Time invested

The first version of Rails was published in 2004 which has given it the ability to mature over the last 15+ years. It has seen projects of all callings, projects of all sizes and ambitions. It has been confronted with virtually every imaginable project and has served a lot of big companies. One of them being Github. The mecca of the coder. 

For many years companies have banked on the fact that Rails will provide them with a strong base for their development and have counted on it to adapt. And it has! Year after year, Rails and Ruby are being updated and reiterated on. New features are introduced, bugs are erased and old patterns are replaced. It has brought a maturity to the project that only time and effort can.

The drawback that most often isn't one

The main argument that can be made against the ruby programming language and therefore the Rails project is its speed. Due to ruby being an interpreted language it lacks the performance capabilities of a compiled language like C. And this translates over into the Rails framework. Naturally, it fails to perform on the same level as C, C++ and other languages of the likes.

This is one of the main reasons that companies are moving away from Rails in search of a language and framework that can provide them with higher throughput and raw speed. They flock towards languages like Go and Rust. But most often applications on the web don't even need that type of speed.

Most of the Companies will probably come back to Rails after a while to indulge in the magic that Rails provides behind the curtains. Handling routing, requests, database connections and a lot more without the involvement of the programmer.

Because as already mentioned, Rust and Go may be the new great languages of the future...but for them to replace Ruby on Rails or Ruby, they will have to withstand the ever-changing landscape that is software development. They haven't had to go through the revolutions in web development of the last 15 years and they won't have for another 10 years.

Rails as a money saver for clients

Because of the vast experience with Rails, we have managed to bring customers great value over the last years. Providing them with solutions tailored to their requirements. And one of the reasons that we were able to facilitate that is the magic that is Rails:

  • Removing all the bottlenecks that configuration and setup can be. 

  • Removing all the low-level details and letting us get right into the details of your business logic.

  • Fast and dynamic implementation of new features without the need to bargain with the compiler or the language itself. 

In conclusion one could say that we  are hopelessly smitten by Ruby on Rails. As a young dynamic team, we rely on software that has been around for quite some years. 

So the next time you use one of our products, you can be assured by the well-tested framework in use and the time and effort that have gone into developing the Rails community.