Ruby Hailed as Good Option in Down Economy

Advocates for the Ruby programming language on Wednesday hailed its usefulness as an enterprise application development option, especially in a down economy.

The Merb framework for Ruby also was championed, during a session at the QCon conference in San Francisco. Speakers also defended Ruby and the Ruby on Rails framework against critics citing slow performance and scalability problems.

Ruby serves as an alternative for companies seeking more affordable software development, said speaker Greg Pollack, CTO at Rails Envy, which offers Rails-related services.

"With Ruby, I can write less code to do more things, and I can probably give them a more affordable option," offering a smaller initial investment and less risk, Pollack said.

Rails applications can be scaled via techniques such as the memcached application, Pollack said in an interview after his presentation. "Really, the way you scale Rails is just like you scale any other Web app," he said.

Ruby reaches beyond the Web, Pollack said. It is being used to generate music and to maintain Linux boxes, as well as for graphics and desktop clients, he said.

Merb, which is based on Model View Controller (MVC), offers an option to the widely known Rails framework, according to speaker Matt Aimonetti, a Merb evangelist.

"Merb meets the enterprise needs because of the cost, adaptability, and scalability," said Aimonetti, who nonetheless defended Ruby on Rails in benchmark tests he detailed. Aimonetti said he tested it against other frameworks such as the PHP-based CodeIgniter. Rails scored 88 requests per second (rps), while CodeIgniter was 98.2 rps, he said.

"Really, Rails is not that slow. It's actually pretty close to the fastest PHP framework," Aimonetti said.

Ruby, meanwhile, is fast in real-life Web benchmarks, he said. "Ruby as a language might be a bit slow, it's true, but when you use it on the Web, it's actually fast," said Aimonetti.

Merb, he said, is "very suited for the enterprise world but not only [the enterprise]." It is "the fastest Ruby framework we have right now," Aimonetti said.

The technology offers the concept of Merb "slices," which serve as stand-alone miniature applications that can be mounted inside other applications, he said. Merb offers modularity and flexibility, said Aimonetti.

Merb 2.0, due within a year, will feature optimization in how requests are served and also target rapid prototyping.

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