Toby DiPasquale on 20 Aug 2007 00:24:11 -0000

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Re: [PhillyOnRails] Business Justification for Ruby

On Mon, Aug 06, 2007 at 12:03:52PM -0400, Brian McNamara wrote:
> hi all,
> i've recently started a sys admin job where (a) the environment is tightly
> controlled and (b) ruby is not an approved language.  i would like to go
> thru the process of recommending ruby as a standard programming language so
> i can use it for day to day scripting tasks.
> has anyone in the phillyonrails community had to go thru something similar?
> i can use the arguments of rapid development, clear syntax, and rich
> standard library, but what other points could i use?  any and all help is
> greatly appreciated (either on the list or off-line).

I agree with Eric completely on this one. However, my prognosis is
somewhat darker than his.

Persistence is key, but be aware that you will probably still fail. Blub 
programmers will be confused and management does not want to make their hiring 
task any harder than it already is. Likely as not, if you're at a big(ish) 
company, your higher-ups will see your insistence on the "new, cool thing" 
(because that's how they'll see it) as either immature and/or a pain in
their ass (this depends largely on how much they value you). Even if they
formerly programmed/sysadmin'd for a living, they have an almost
completely different set of priorities in their position than you do.

I recently fought this very battle at the world's 3rd largest software
company and lost. I was even allowed to write code in Ruby there. No one
else picked it up outside of my immediate team, despite all of my
promotion and insistence. Perl was the language du jour there and that was
that. Everyone knew it and no one wanted to change, least of all the
management. And you know what? They were right.

Perl is just fine for what you'd use Ruby for. Ruby is a much nicer
language, don't get me wrong, but Perl has things going for it, too. Its
older, much more mature and has a non-shitty runtime and tons of libraries
for anything you'd want to do. Most important: everyone there already knew 
Perl. Also, maintaining all that Perl didn't seem to be an issue for them,
removing one of the long-standing complaints about it by outsides (i.e.
that its a "write-only" language).

Ruby is not better than Perl on enough large-scale development metrics to 
justify a large-scale switch to Ruby, even just in one business unit as the 
case was here. You can find Perl programmers much more easily than Ruby 
programmers today. Hell, what might have worked better was if I was
advocating Scala. At least they were already using the JVM everywhere...

>From this perspective, Ruby is just a slightly-better Perl. To attack your
current place's language on this level, you'd better be sure its on the
order of BASIC or you will be in a for a long year. 

oby DiPasquale
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