Red Squirrel Reflections
Dave Hoover explores the psychology of software development

Dave Hoover
dave.hoover@gmail.com

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Wed, 30 May 2007

Rails moves my Bottleneck in Web Development

Geoffrey Grosenbach's latest post reminded me of something I've grown to appreciate over the last couple years: web development with Rails pushes me out of the confines of my codebase and into the other aspects of web development much more quickly than any other web development environment I've used before. Rather than slogging through the painful verbosity of a J2EE codebase, on a Rails project I am (like Geoffrey) hopping around on various servers' command lines, configuring Apache, defining CSS, and crafting Prototype-inspired JavaScript features. For whatever reason, these are all aspects of web development that I had grown to belittle in a previous life when I was more interested in intellectual pursuits.

What I'm realizing lately is that while I cherish what I've learned about objects, agile, and patterns, I'm feeling a bit lop-sided (which isn't surprising if you look at my reading lists over the years). Rails has internalized some the ideals that came out of some of the most important software development revolutions of the last few decades. Martin notes:

...the [R]uby community has formed around the best ideas of the OO and Extreme Programming communities. Listening to the keynote of Jamis Buck and Michael Koziarski I was delighted to reflect on the thought that they were right there in the values of Ward, Kent, and all the other people who've been advocating clean code, well-factored object-oriented design, and testability. These ideas have made a great impact on many other technological communities, but in Ruby-land they are the orthodoxy.
Ruby and Rails' intrinsic values mean that my bottleneck has moved away from application code and (as always) I've got some learning to do in the ecosystem that surrounds and supports a successful Rails project. Thankfully I work on a team of people that have a great diversity of backgrounds and talents. On teams like this, we often have both partners in our pairing sessions switching frequently between student and teacher. It is a priceless dynamic and one of the great advantages of working with apprentices.

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