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Merb Merges With Rails

The holidays are a time for coming together among friends, families -- and, this year, open source Ruby framework projects.

The Ruby on Rails project is now planning on merging its efforts with the rival Merb framework for the future release of Rails version 3.

The merger brings together two groups that had been at odds for the past two years over the best way to create a scalable, customizable and extensible framework for Ruby applications.

"The Merb team will be working with the Rails core team on a joint project. The plan is to merge in the things that made Merb different," Merb's project maintainer and developer, Yehuda Katz, blogged. "This will make it possible to use Rails 3 for the same sorts of use-cases that were compelling for Merb users. Effectively, Merb 2 is Rails 3."

Merb 1.0 debuted in October. At the time of the release, Katz told InternetNews.com that Merb was different than Rails in that it allows for more granular control and customization.

"This is quite a dramatic turn of events," Rails founder David Heinemeier Hansson blogged. "We went from testy relations to coming together in not very long at all."

Merb and Rails are similar in many respects, however, and Hansson said the two groups ultimately reached a point where they realized it was better to come together than to duplicate efforts.

For instance, Hansson admitted that Merb has a number of Rails pieces in it that are rewritten to be faster. Those faster pieces will now be brought over for the Rails 3 development.

"In short, Rails 3 will get all the performance attention that the Merb guys are known for," Hansson said.

Rails is currently still in development on its 2.x cycle of releases which began a year ago. The Rails 2.3 release is set for launch at the end of January. After Rails 2.3 is out, the next big release from Rails will be Rails 3, which will include the Merb components.

For Merb users, the merger with Rails doesn't mean they'll be left out in the cold. Application hosting vendor Engine Yard, which is the primary commercial backer of Merb, is large supporter of Rails development hosting as well.

Engine Yard CEO Lance Walley told InternetNews.com that he thought the merger of Merb and Rails was "fantastic," and that he expects that the two groups are going to do great work together. Walley declined to comment on how many Merb customers Engine Yard currently has that might be affected by the merger.

"We will support them indefinitely," Walley told InternetNews.com. "Though I can certainly foresee a day when most will be on Rails 3.0+, and then it will make sense to just focus on Rails."

Katz also emphasized that Merb developers are not abandoning the Merb project and its existing deployments, and added those using Merb today should continue to use it.

"You will not be left in the cold and we’re going to do everything to make sure that your applications don’t get stuck in the past," Katz said. "If you’ve already learned Merb, we will be working hard to make sure that you can parlay that knowledge into Rails 3."

"There will be no huge jumps and you will not need to rewrite your application from scratch."