I came from a background of web applications, and after OSCON last year, I spent some time looking into Django, mostly because I’d heard a lot of good things about Rails, and Django was said to be “like Rails, only written in Python” (the language we’re using for Chandler).
I’d initially been put off by Rails’ self-proclaimed “opinionated” nature, worried that their “convention over configuration” would only work for the things I wanted to do that aligned with what they expected.
So, as a learning experiment, I rewrote my film-festival-scheduling application in Django. I liked it, but once I was done I decided to look into Rails, to see what was different about it. Also, I’d gotten to the point that I wanted to add some AJAXy features to the scheduler, but Django didn’t have direct support for any particular AJAX library. That forced me to pick one myself, so I started looking at the most-visible four or five libraries out there (Dojo, Prototype/script.aculo.us, etc.).
Dojo looked the most interesting at the time, but I noticed that Rails had picked Prototype and script.aculo.us – and when I looked at a tutorial or two, I saw that the integration looked pretty tight. This enticed me to watch the Rails tutorial video… which inspired me to look again at the Ruby language, and it all seemed pretty cool.
So, I rewrote the festival scheduler again, in Ruby, using Rails. I found that the “opinionated” nature of Rails doesn’t seem to get in my way; actually, it’s just the opposite: I learned quickly that if I was banging my head against the way Rails worked, I was probably working against Rails, and that there was probably a better way. There usually was, so this newfound sense of smell really helped me get productive quickly.
(I’ve got more work to do on the festival scheduler, but I do expect to open it up to others before too long. When I do, I’ll announce it here.)