Chronos is one of the many Smalltalk-related blogs syndicated on Planet Smalltalk

Discussion of the Essence# programming language, and related issues and technologies.

Blog Timezone: America/Los_Angeles [Winter: -0800 hhmm | Summer: -0700 hhmm] 
Your local time:  


Finding the Signal-to-Noise Ratio in the Never-Ending Language Debate

Exceprt from a blog entry by Reg Braithwaite:

Speaking of Rails, I'm going to conclude with my take on one reason why Rails is taking off and Seaside is not. Rails allows programmers to express the idioms they already know (relational databases, web-backed MVC, stateless event handling plus a global session store) in fewer bits.

Seaside provides a whole new idiom, continuations, that IMO is more powerful. I think you end up with an even higher signal-to-noise ratio with a Seaside app than with a Rails app. Why? Because continuations afford you a much higher degree of controller reuse.

Now, here's the catch: if you try to imagine your current application running on both Rails and on Seaside, you probably won't see much difference between the two (although they'll both be an order of magnitude better than ASP.NET). They will look the same because you designed your application with idioms that both Rails and Seaside support.

To get a big win, you'd have to rethink your application's flow and logic. You'd have to "think in Seaside." And you're not going to do that. So you pick Rails, like so many others have picked it, because it looks just like your ASP app, only all the noise has gone away. It's all signal, baby.

Now, do you see the thing here? Ruby has been around for a while, but nobody switched. Why? Because they couldn't see how its new idioms would help them. Every time a programmer considered switching from Blub to Ruby, she was presented with all these new idioms, like dynamic types. None of this meant anything to her, because they didn't appear to make the idioms she already knew more compact. No win.

But now she looks and she sees her existing web idioms, and she sees them expressed with way fewer bits, and she is suddenly prepared to learn this Ruby thing if it will let her say:

class Language < ActiveRecord::Base

has_and_belongs_to_many :idioms


My take: Eventually, the world realized and accepted the fact that Arabic number notation provided a compelling advantage over the use of Roman Numerals (ever try to do long division using Roman Numerals?) But the acceptance/adoption process took decades--or even centuries.

To paraphrase Lord Keynes: "The herd can remain irrational far longer than you can remain solvent."

Ruby On Rails is a "killer app." I'm thinking it's time to learn Ruby. I also think that vendors/purveyors of Smalltalk systems should provide Ruby compilers that generate code that runs on Smalltalk VMs.

I also wonder whether anyone would be interested in porting Chronos to Ruby. Hmmm....

No comments: