Technology Musings

October 01, 2012

Platforms / Rails, CoffeeScript, and Java


I *hate* the direction that Rails is moving.  It is becoming a bloated piece of garbage.  I got into Rails precisely because Rails got out of my way most of the time, but was easy to use right where I needed it.  ActiveRecord was a thin shell over SQL.  Therefore, if there was a problem, I could easily diagnose it, because I knew SQL.  It added a few bits of magic, but those were usually pretty understandable.  Likewise with the javascript helpers and the like.  If you needed something done, just pop into Javascript and patch it up.

This contrasted heavily with J2EE.  I used J2EE for a while, but it turns out that if you want to use J2EE you have to commit to it like it's a religion.  If you don't know 20 different platform libraries, you can't even do a hello world in J2EE.  When you finally get it working, you don't know what the heck is even going on.  Some magic is happening somewhere, but it is beyond what is plainly visible.  This, and the fact that Ruby is very metaprogramming-ish, was the reason I chose Rails.

However, starting with Rails 3, the Rails team decided that it was simply going to do everything for you, and everything was going to be done in domain-specific languages.  Thus, instead of the required list of languages/platforms being Ruby/Rails/SQL/Javascript, it has balooned out to Ruby/Rails/SQL/Javascript/Coffeescript/SASS/ECO/Node.js, and probably a few others I'm forgetting.  The asset pipeline is kind of cool, but it's yet another place for things to go wrong.  I think the anti-CSS measure of auto-h()ing code is terrible.  If you wanted to go that way, instead you should use Perl's taint feature, and just give errors if you display tainted values.  The idea that random code should transform my strings is horrible.

Finally, I understand the reason for getting rid of the javascripty stuff from rails core, but some of those were really what made the platform really rock.  I think they have missed the mark - they put the ease-of-use in the wrong places, and instead have made sure that no one that doesn't have a relgious commitment to the software stack will ever find it usable.  It has basically gone the way of J2EE, and I am now looking for a new platform to love.