December 03, 2005
Snakes and Rubies and Chicago

I wandered off to the Snakes and Rubies confab - a meeting of the minds and questions between two of the core developers behind Ruby on Rails and Django (on Python). Being reasonably inexperienced with both languages - let alone frameworks - I'm sure chunks of it was lost on me.

Though Winter has finally hit here in Chicago, the room was SRO - well over 100 people attended. There were some (to be expected) technical difficulties, but the audience is a bunch of software, not hardware, hackers. Resolved through kludges or workarounds, each project provided an overview of their particular framework.

Django appears to separate itself in some way by its background in journalism - it's clearly defined to get something going, and get it going fast (or, as Adrian Holavaty put it "software development on journalism deadlines").

Rails, by contrast, follows a more constraining approach, one designed to approach 'beauty'. Beauty is the hallmark by which David Henemeier Hansson measures programs and programming language. This translates a bit like elegance, but subtly different.

Those are the described hooks. But in a lot of ways, the frameworks are more similar than not - each takes a full stack approach to web development, each proceeds from a MVC standpoint. Both are far better than PHP or (my own point of reference) 1.x/2.x Cold Fusion. Both are alluring.

From my untutored eye, Django looks a bit quicker to get started with for a project, but Rails appears to add a lot of presentation richness and sugar.

In terms of presentation, neither developer took unnecessary digs at one another - though DHH has plenty of barbed remarks about Java, and a backhanded compliment ( paraphrased: "We owe Larry Wall a debt of thanks for Perl, because without Perl we wouldn't have Ruby") to the Perl community. But the discussion was all above the belt and non-adversarial.

No day would be without some choice chunks....

Best question "Looking a bit beyond web frameworks, how do you expect the world to end?" -- why the lucky stuff (of course) (the answers to this, btw: DHH: All languages come to their end of usefulness. Java is there now, Ruby and Python, eventually, will also. AH: "Yoko Ono").

Best reason to develop in Chicago rather than Silicon Valley: "Because it's Chicago, not Silicon Valley." (another reason: RailsConf immediately precedes YAPC::NA next year!)

Best attempt to make a Powerbook connect to DePaul's presentation systems: Jonathan "Wolf" Rentsch, who just happened to have a DVI -> VGA connector in his bag. The attempt failed, but....

The video recordings should come out and be edited soon, along with audio - so if you weren't there, all is far from lost. Rumor has it Doug Kaye of ITConversations has been pinged on distribution, also.

It was great to see the community come together on a snowy day and cram into a crowded room; thanks to the Chicago Area Ruby Group, ChiPy, Depaul Linux Community for the space, and the DePaul Computer Science Society (ACM) for the snacks!

[Update 2005-12-05: DHH has posted slides for the Rails Presentation]

Posted by esinclai at December 03, 2005 06:54 PM |