Terry Chay on Rails

22 May 2007

Terry Chay's latest post is a work of art. This is why I read his blog. (If you're easily offended, you shouldn't.) He gives a quick slap in the face to those with more ego than intelligence (an issue highlighted by Jeremy Privett), then launches into a sarcastic, fact-filled tirade that cuts through some of the Rails hype:

Maybe if we work really hard at promoting ourselves, we can get a developer to create a site using PHP that will reach #700 on the Internet and fails so often that they've ruined the cuteness of cats.

To back up some of his commentary, he presents two graphs:

The first graph is used to put Twitter's success into perspective. Terry works at Tagged, so he uses that as an example PHP site and adds Facebook, because it's the heavyweight of that genre.

The second graph is a subtle reference to the reaction to Twitter's honest criticism of Rails. Terry asks:

Remind me, what is DHH doing lecturing Alex about scalability?

It's a rhetorical question, of course, because his graph clearly shows that Alex's web site receives far more traffic than anything ever developed by 37 Signals.

Terry makes another good point with this list:

  1. People like me are smart and have to run extremely large, scalable Internet infrastructures.
  2. People like me have used Rails.
  3. People like me don't use Rails to build extremely large, scalable Internet infrastructures.

I can think of several people who fit this description. In fact, I work for a technology-agnostic company that works on some of the largest web sites on the Internet. We have experience developing with Rails, and we have experience migrating from Rails to PHP. :-)

I'm sure Terry's post will be interpreted by many to be a criticism of Rails, but if anything, I think it's a criticism of the Rails community, similar to my post from early last year. Over time, Rails will certainly mature, but those of us who are interested in the technology (not the hype) would prefer to see the veil of perfection dropped in favor of progress. Terry hopes to see a new perspective adopted by the Rails community:

Maybe those people who build really large web sites daily have something to teach us.

Maybe they do.