Archive for Ruby

Ruby better than JSP?

Bruce Tate (of Beyond Java fame) wrote a combined JSP-rant/Ruby-for-the-web article in which he claims that

  1. JSP is crap (agreed),
  2. Embedded Ruby templates are better than JSP (no objection either),
  3. and thus that Ruby is better suited for web development than Java (huh?).

Ignoring the fact that JSP is outdated and many better alternatives exist (Facelets, Tapestry, Freemarker, …) and that there’s even Groovy Templates, I don’t see the ruby templates/components described as something desirable. They’re great for hacking small webapplications, but each line of code embedded in a template/component inevitably creates maintenance problems. Sure, we do need looping and conditionals for templates, as well as output formatting routines – but that’s it, and you don’t need Ruby or Java for such a task. Code inside a template is hard to debug, hard to test, and hard to refactor.

Seaside, a Smalltalk-based web application framework, looks pretty interesting from a programmer’s point of view, but I doubt any non-programmer will adopt to that way of thinking:

renderContentOn: html
	html heading: 'Hello world' level: 1.
	html paragraph: 'Welcome to my Seaside web site.  In the future you
		will find all sorts of applications here such as: calendars, todo lists,
		shopping carts etc'

It looks great – for a programmer, and as long as your designer colleague can get his job done using pure CSS. I’m not too sure Smalltalk will take off for web development as did Ruby, but it would be interesting to see more work done in this direction for other languages (in contrast to HTML templating).

Overall, Bruce Tate’s conclusion that “other languages such as Ruby handle Web development much better than Java technology” is not supported by his article. However, this doesn’t make Ruby on Rails any less impressive than it already is – for anyone doing web development, regardless of his/her language of choise.

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