Tuesday, January 8, 2008 [Tweets] [Favorites]

How Ruby on Rails Could Be Much Better

Dallas at DreamHost:

The feeling I get from the Rails community is that Rails is being pushed as some sort of high-end application system and that makes it ok to ignore the vast majority of user web environments. You simply cannot ignore the shared hosting users. In my opinion, the one thing the PHP people did that got them to where they are today is to embrace shared hosting and work hard to make their software work well within it. That means it has to be very lightweight (it may be too late for that in Rails already!), and it has to ‘plug in’ to a wide variety of operating environments with minimal fuss and hassle. Compatibility work like that is not glamorous, exciting, or fun, but it’s gotta be done.

Update (2008-01-10):

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Sounds like a match made in heaven for someone like Dreamhost to get involved and help do the work to make Rails a great shared host experience. They might not have the man-power in-house today to make that happen, but I'm sure they could easily hire their way out of that.

John Gruber:

It’s easy to say “The Rails team should make it easier to host”, but it’s sort of the nature of the beast, and I’ve never seen a good recommendation for specifically how they could do so.

Alex Payne:

Well, the Java community ignored shared hosting users. The Python community ignored shared hosting users. Basically every development community save Perl and PHP have stayed the hell away from shared hosting. Why? Because shared hosting is a ghetto.

Dallas responds:

The fact remains that both of those groups of web application developers, and I’d go so far as to say all web applications developers, want development environments that more or less ‘just work’. They want to focus on programming and leave the server administration alone. Rails does a great job at saving programmers on programming time (which is exactly why programmers like it), but many reports I’ve heard indicate that in many cases it trades that programming time for back-end server administration time instead.

1 Comment

Maybe that work has "gotta be done" from the perspective of a hosting company that's losing money because people can't host in their shared setup, but I don't think that sentiment is universal.

I'm not sure a lot of people in the Rails community are excited about applications that are user-installed like Moveable Type and WordPress. They are, however, excited about building hosted services like TypePad and WordPress.com that have proven to be much more popular and profitable, business-wise.

If Dreamhost is going to hold the Rails community's feet to the fire for not being more deployable in shared environments, why not the Java or Python communities too?

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