Ruby on Rails Is Dead — 2020 Edition

3 min read

It’s 2020, and it’s high time for us at JetRuby to once again scrutinize everything we believe in and answer the million-dollar question:

“Is Ruby on Rails finally deader than a coffin nail in 2020?”

The rumors of Ruby’s imminent (inevitable, immutable, irreversible) demise have been whispered about for years inside developer locker rooms. Yet, the language, Ruby on Rails, and framework are still around, powering hundreds of thousands of websites. (Sigh) Do I need to mention again that Github, AirBnB, and Hulu continue using RoR?

That’s a sign of doing pretty good, arguably better than most programming languages since not all languages/tools are lucky enough to reach these peaks of prominence/awesomeness and credibility.

So perhaps it’s time to move away from the morbid, sensationalist language of technological death and discuss Ruby on Rails more reasonably and meaningfully.

So sit back. Pour yourself a mason jar of peppermint tea, and let’s just sensibly talk about what we mean:

What is the state of Ruby on Rails at the dawn of 2020?

The TIOBE index (the index that uses search engine results) places Ruby in the top 20 technologies. In a Stack Overflow 2019 survey, Ruby on Rails is in the top 10 most popular languages. And yes, none of these rankings hysterically scream “popularity” like a 6th-grade girl at a Jonas Brothers concern, but I would argue that’s a good thing.

At the end of the day, what users care about is a practical, fast, intuitive, and secure app. The last thing they care about is what’s under the hood.

Apps being useful — that has minimal relation to the technology stack used. Everything else I mentioned can be achieved using Ruby on Rails. It just so happens that due to the unique nature of Ruby, we’re able to write clean code — faster, which is a great thing for startups and businesses that run on lean innovation.

Let’s not forget what makes Ruby on Rails great

Ruby teaches you some great coding habits, such as the TDD approach, MVC pattern, separate databases, DRY code, and restful routes, which, in the end, translates to clean code that needs less testing. Ruby on Rails is created with developers in mind to make a developer happy. Happy developers make better apps, making users happy as well. Why wouldn’t you want your users to be satisfied? The Ruby on Rails support community is vast and reliable, which means it’s a viable technology, and it’s not going away anytime soon.

It might not be the hot new technology, but it’s a stable, mature technology that is much more valuable for a business than just being cool.

The Now

Ruby is not a magic solution to all your problems; it’s simply a tool. And if you’re a startup trying to launch your product on time and budget — then it’s an excellent tool for you. And here’s where “no news is good news.” You want your next MVP built with stable, proven technology and not a fad that might disappear tomorrow, and you’ll be scrambling to find the last available developer to support you.

Is it the only technology you will ever need?

No.

You might do what Twitter did: launch on Ruby on Rails, then move on to a new platform when you have the funds. OR — you can do what AirBnB and countless other startups did and stay with Ruby. It’s up to you, but the truth is: if you’re making a web or enterprise app with Ruby, you’ll write better quality code, spend less time testing, and launch your product before your competitors do, so you can start getting revenue and think about where to take your product next.

Also, just like with any tool, it’s not necessarily how the tools are used, but WHO uses them.
Over the years, we’ve cultivated real Ruby pros with know-how and best practices to tackle anything you throw at them, like a pro-bowl linebacker into a running back at 45 MPH. And guess what? At Jetruby, we’re an intellectually curious bunch — of course, we test out all the other alternatives.

We’re constantly experimenting with new technologies and tools. Why? Because we have highly patient girlfriends, it’s fun to try something new: some tools we make a part of our tool belt, some we discard, and some — we put on the back burner for further testing in the future. Here’s a blog post on our experience with Node.js, React, Redux, GraphQL, and Webpack to back up my point.

And we’ve recently invested in Elixir. Stay tuned for articles on that whole thing…

So — dead or not, that’s not a relevant question when it comes to programming languages. I mean, you can still find someone who knows Fortran or COBOL. To ensure your product succeeds, you should use proven, reliable technology with sufficient support from the community — and Ruby offers that.

At this point, we believe that for most startups who want to launch an MVP fast and within a lean budget — Ruby/Rails is the answer because it’s robust, scalable, and can be implemented with any JS library, such as React. We’ll be the first to let you know whenever a better alternative appears, i.e., technology proves to be a better, faster, more secure alternative over time.

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