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Ruby on Rails Ramps Up

Ruby on Rails is out with a new release of its open source Web framework with a promise: making it even easier to develop AJAX -based, Web 2.0 applications.

Ruby on Rails 1.1 (RoR)?

The framework is, at a fundamental level, made up of two entities. Ruby, the open source object oriented programming language, and Rails, which is a framework for developing and deploying AJAX-type applications with Ruby.

RoR needs a database to run (either MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, or Firebird) and the Apache HTTP Web server. RoR Version 1.1 offers users over 500 fixes from its previous RoR release in late 2005

Among the key benefits of RoR is that it's almost all Ruby, which is intended to require less coding to deploy.

The 1.1 release takes Ruby-centricity a step further with JavaScript (the "J" in a AJAX) written in Ruby, something RoR calls "RJS."

"It's the perfect antidote for your JavaScript blues," wrote RoR creator David Heinemeier Hansson on his RoR blog. [It's] "the way to get all Ajaxified without leaving the comfort of your beloved Ruby."

The Ruby language was released in 1995 by creator Yukihiro "Matz" Matsumoto, with a somewhat different slant than other languages. With Ruby, it's all about the "joy" of programming.

Marcel Molina, one of the core developers of RoR, said he had always been a bit of a language enthusiast and was using Python  and Perl   at work before working on RoR.

His attraction to Ruby grew out of the opinions of Ruby's creator, nicknamed "matz," about language design and programming.

"He [matz] talks about wanting to give programmers joy and privileging the programmer, not the computer," Molina told internetnews.com.

"When you are someone who does programming all day, that's a great thing to hear and when I actually started using Ruby, I was blown away that it actually delivered on what he was talking about. I fell in love with ruby," Molina continued.

"And eventually when rails came around it made Web development exciting again and it answered all the problems that I was stumbling up against."

The language does face what Molina calls canonical barriers to adoption. One of them is skepticism about Ruby, since it is billed by some as a "scripting language." Molina noted that the scripting language moniker makes Ruby sound like a language just for one-off administrative scripts and not a tool for full blown application development.

"The response to that really, is that the proof is in the pudding," Molina said. "There are many, large ruby and rails applications in production and they are doing just fine."

Though Molina noted that developers are happy with RoR's core functionality and architecture, development is still on track for more polish.

"Most of our attention now is moving over to the general rails environment and ecosystem creating tools and environments for development and production so that people can work better with and on their rails apps," Molina said.

The future functionality of RoR will likely be shaped by solving real world problems that developers face.

"Rails has always been a real world extraction," Molina stated. "We've solved problems that we've had and put that code into the framework. So what lies ahead will be defined by the problems that we run into and the solutions that we arrive at."