December 23, 2005


Bruce Eckel, one of my favoured authors for introductory language books, has posted an essay entitled The departure of the hyper-enthusiasts. Java used to be an over-hyped language, now it seems that Ruby (and Rails) has become the next one, though without the corporate sponsorship thus far.

Bruce points out that Java is now being used to get work done instead of being a religious rallying cry, and EJB has done tremendous damage to its productivity. Was Java ever really suited to being a web application development language? Building web applications used to be done in Perl, but for some reason that became "bad", and Java, ASP and now .NET are used instead. In this sense, Ruby really is the "new perl", with objects that work. And perhaps the migration we're seeing from Java is from people that should have been using perl or PHP in the first place for their websites.

It seems passe' to approve of the "C++ way of doing things", but a lot of that mindset was definitely a driving force behind Java's evolution through the late 1990's, arguably for the better. Perhaps Java's staying power is due to the C++ guys more or less getting the language they wanted with Java 5; they never really were into the scripting style languages in the first place, anyway. Whereas the Smalltalk guys never really got much play at Sun, now they have Ruby as a way of resurrecting their beloved language features.

My own curiousity is whether Ruby will take more mindshare away from Java/.NET or if it will come from PHP, Python, and Perl. I tend to think the latter, most of the leading edge work I see corporations doing are NOT "connect the database to the web", which seems to be where most programmer's heads are still at en masse. What's even more interesting is that .NET seems to be taking the "innovative road" with C# 3.0 and LINQ...

On a final note, it is unfortunate to see respected authors/figureheads cashing in on a hype wave so quickly with sloppy books and poorly formed or researched ideas.... these are the former Java-gurus turned Ruby hucksters. Some honestly just prefer Ruby as a language, and have been saying it for years prior to it being popular (I know I've been a Ruby fan since 2000-2001 for my personal use, but I've rarely used it professionally), but others are coming out and stating their love for the language along with a new book professing their love...

Posted by stu at December 23, 2005 08:16 AM