Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Controversy: too much choice in Ruby

A tongue-in-cheek post called "So you want to be a ruby dev" has sparked a bit of controversy in the community by pointing out the overabundance of options now available to ruby learners. A lot of commentary has happened on the hacker news thread for the article, with the loudest voices complaining that while there is choice - that it isn't mandatory to learn all the options, for example in the same way as examples such as Java.

Opponents point out that the proliferation of options is confusing potential newcomers to the field, who don't rightly know where they should begin. That the community (and therefore the documentation) seems to be fragmenting, where it isn't simply missing, or so old as to be effectively obsolete.

The article sums up the situation by lamenting: "Remember when Ruby and Rails was about getting stuff done?" The implication being that newbies have to spend so much time learning about all the possible solutions... simply to choose which one they should begin to use.

A follow-on article on Ruby Inside continues the discussion, pointing out that the variety of options available to Ruby-users is its strength, rather than being a drawback. It points out that what we are missing is just a few simple "for newcomers" help-pages that clearly show how you can get started with the minimum of fuss.

The post ends by calling for ruby-developers to remember the philosophy of having many ways to do something, but to have an opinion on what the best approach should be. It also strongly calls for more straightforward "Start by doing X, then Y" how-to posts for beginner Ruby users... emulating the rather better documented beginner tutorials on the Ruby on Rails pages.

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