What the hell is happening to Rails? Answerback.

This is an answerback to the recent ‘What the hell is happening to rails?’ post by Steve Coast. He says Rails has become too hard/advanced for beginners, and recommends they ditch learning Rails 3 and go with an older version:

If you want to learn rails, don’t get the latest pragmatic programmers book. Go and get the 1st or 2nd edition. Get an old copy of rails and ignore all this. Once you’ve figured that all out then upgrade and expect to spend the same amount of time learning all the new stuff. You don’t save any time jumping to Rails 3+. You will love rails if you begin at the start like we all did, but you might hate it starting off with 3.

I disagree – in fact I strongly recommend you don’t take Steve’s advice or his post too seriously.

“Rails has become too big/advanced”

There are plenty of learning resources out there that teach you the basics of Rails 3 without bogging you down with the more advanced stuff. Lynda.com’s Rails 3 Beginners Course is a perfect example of this – there’s no testing, no ajax – just the rails basics. And for someone coming from PHP (and a PHP beginner I hasten to add) I can tell you it makes perfect sense. Even the things that never really made any sense in PHP, do now.

“Rails n00bs don’t want to learn”

He seems to infer that newcomers to Rails are somewhat of an inept lot, unable of (or wanting to) learn new things. He’s wrong again.

People come to Rails because they want the best web framework. Not the easiest. If that were the case they’d stick with a framework in their current language – as it would be ‘easier’ not to learn another. Therefore I would strongly argue people coming to Rails are more than prepared to learn new stuff – because they know it will be worth it in the long run. At least that’s what I’ve found and I’ve mingled with a lot of fellow Rails nubes. Perhaps it would actually be worth talking to nubes before speaking on their behalf, Steve?

People come to Rails because it’s hawt!

And that shouldn’t be diluted. The core team needn’t worry too much about holding things back because of newcomers… because there are teachers and educators out there that know how to teach Rails to people of all levels. That’s why you have beginners courses like the lynda.com one, and advanced ones like one at codeschool.com (they also have one for more advanced beginners too, the infamous Rails for Zombies).

So everything’s perfect!?

Nothing is perfect. Improvements can and are still being made to Rails, and if you were to ask which framework is perfect – I’d say, none, but Rails is the closest. See: What’s so special about Ruby on Rails? to see why. That’s why it’s so popular. That’s why people think it’s worth learning. And that’s why they’re willing to put the effort in to learn it. Perhaps Steve’s forgotten just how powerful and how much of a motivator that something special is.