Geek Smithology

September 13, 2006

Enterprise Ruby Pragmatic Studio, Day 3

Filed under: Grab Bag by Nathan @ 10:33 pm

(See Day 1 and Day 2)

The joys of JRuby, a pure Java implementation of our favorite precious stone. As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Sun, on the advice of Ruby convert Tim Bray, has hired the two core programmers behind the JRuby project. Reaction has been both copious and mixed. It lets you write Ruby code that can access Java classes, and the hopes of a nation (well, at least the hopes of a Nathan) rest on its ability to easily interface with the huge number of existing enterprise Java classes out there. The syntax for interfacing with Java is very natural, and very Ruby. However, it’s obviously not the most mature technology out there – all of the suckers with Windows-based laptops could not get this lab to run. A little too ironic. Yeah, I really do think…

So with JRuby on first, Stomp was on second. If, like me, you’d never heard of Stomp, it’s the Streaming Text Orientated[1] Message Protocal. It’s essentially another way to access MOM. Although the fact that it is both lightweight and easy to understand makes it very likely that the big-E enterprise community will never embrace it. Ruby naturally has very easy hooks for publishing and subscribing to queues that support Stomp. Unfortunately, there are only two servers with such support provided, so you’ll need to another byway into your free love message freeway. Most likely REST, or our old friends Web Services. If you’ve already got the infrastructure in place, being able to do some scripting with Ruby is very nice indeed, but if you had to add an interface just so that our friendly neighbourhood red rock can play nice, you could probably spend your time better elsewhere.

We ended the course on a web note (which is a lot cleaner than a brown note), with the instructors pimping their own Streamlined framework. And that’s okay, they just wouldn’t be consultants if they didn’t pimp their framework. And speaking of pimping, that’s essentially what streamlined does for Rails apps. It makes some of the view stuff a little cleaner and more managable. I played with it during the lab and must say that just like Rails, if Streamlined suits what you’re trying to do, it looks like a handy little tool. But if it’s not, then look elsewhere. Not a knock on either technology, but let’s all avoid hammer nail syndrome when we can.

And that’s the conference in a nutshell. I’ll put together a post with my thoughts on Ruby in the enterprise some other time in the not-so-distant future, but my quick thoughts are that the conference was exactly what I was expecting, but not what I was hoping. Our tshirts say “Enterprise Ready”, and I just can’t say I agree yet. I am disappointed by how shallow the Ruby support is for certain aspects. I’ll get to this later, but security, services, and threading jump to mind. Hopefully technologies like JRuby and IronRuby can help bring it forward in these areas by utilizing other tools.

This is not a knock on Justin or Stuart. They were both very knowledgable, approachable, and the probably have as much experience as anyone can have doing Enterprise Ruby. I thoroughly enjoyed myself – the Pragmatic folks put on an excellent course, and if you’re interested in the subject matter, I wouldn’t hesitate to extend a recommendation.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

[1] I know what you’re thinking, oriented would make saying the full name easier, but for some reason computer geeks like the word orientated. Just cause you can doesn’t mean you should, kids.

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