Drinking Rails Kool-Aid
Posted by unbrand on 9 December 2005 | 9 Comments
Not only have I been drinking the Rails Kool-Aid lately, I’ve been buying boxes of the little packets and throwing them at passers-by as I yell “Java ate my CPU!” while I tear open 3 packets at a time and coat my mouth in powdery Rails goodness. Sure the kids get scared, but the moms and dads understand. I think.
You learn something new but it doesn’t sink in until you put that knowledge to good use, right? A combination of factors led me to start looking at setting up a wiki using Rails.
- MediaWiki does not use Textile markup for adding and editing content. I started using Textile for my Typo-powered blog and I like it a lot. I spent a good amount of time trying to plug Textile into MediaWiki with no luck. The content parsing in MediaWiki is tied very closely to other aspects of MediaWiki so it’s a bit tricky to isolate the parsing enough to plug in Textile. In the end, one markup for blog, and a different markup for wiki. Ugh.
- I recently learned MediaWiki is busy doing a lot of PHP object processing to accomplish anything. There’s a lot of work going on to pull off all the MediaWiki functionality which derives from Wikipedia. In a corporate environment it might be worth the hassle, but this wiki is just for personal use and for playing with the technology. I have my own bias against using objects in PHP. My experiences have been that object orientation in PHP 5 is still buggy and bloated. Why? Was C++ this buggy and slow when it first came out? Dunno. At any rate, I was seeing (and now that I think about it have always seen) crappy performance in MediaWiki. Tell me again why my wiki is slow? And why should I have to deal with it?
- Pain getting MediaWiki and Postgres working together. This should be getting better soon, but as of now it’s a bit twiddly to get it going.
- I stumbled across Instiki and saw that it’s a wiki built on top of Rails. And, it was made by the creator of Rails. After installing it, I noticed that all of the above issues with MediaWiki disappeared. Instiki can use Textile, is speedy, plays nicely with PostgreSQL, and is a first-class Rails application as well. Which means that the little bit I’ve learned so far about my blog software Typo can be applied to the wiki software, too. That’s a big plus for maintaining the software & adding new features.
Now my blog and internal wiki are both Rails applications. The only problem with eating powdered Kool-Aid is that it stains clothing really bad. But that can be solved easily with cherry and lime-coloured clothing.
Here’s proof of more Kool-Aid drinkers from Tim O’Reilly’s blog. He talks about various computer language book sales and notes spikes in sales due to various reasons. Ruby book sales are the fastest rising, while Java book sales are declining, year on year. Good indications of trends, I think. There’s also an interesting discussion in the comments on the same page about people moving to (or away from) various languages. One interesting comment was from an author of a book on Struts who said “RoR is the most productive MVC architecture out there.”
I remember when Java came out and there was a lot of the same breathless excitement about what a great language it is (“everything’s an object,” “speed sucks but will improve,” “more expressive than C++”, etc.) I agreed with the Java hype then, and I agree with the Ruby hype now.
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