I am a great fan of rapid
application development techniques and lately had a chance to revisit the
various frameworks which allow the same. Though I am a .net developer and
Silverlight enthusiast, my findings below are without any prejudice and I will
like to hear from you if you have something to add or you have altogether a
During the above research, I was
also inclined to determine what factors lend towards a platform to make it fit
enough to use it.
Below are few major ones:
Major Architecture Paradigm followed:
Delta between what is already known and what we must
acquire to start using the framework:
Best Suited for scenarios:
Ruby (Ruby on Rails)
My encounter with Ruby has mostly
as Iron Ruby– port of Ruby which runs on Microsoft platform proclaiming Iron
Ruby as Dynamic Language.(http://silverlight.net/learn/dynamiclanguages.aspx)
My first candidate was Ruby (RoR,
to be specific.). I like Ruby as a language and like to use it as a Proof of
concept for most of the complex algorithms I tend to use while programming.
While Ruby provide great features
like "duck typing" and lambda expressions, the thing which I liked most in RoR
is intelligent use of Design Patterns, without even bothering the end users of
the framework to be concerned about it. By doing that all the "Good Practices"
are embedded deep into the architecture during development inherently. Compare
this to Microsoft CAB and SF (now known as Prism, in which things get quickly
dirty if the developers are not comfortable with the design pattern aspect).
The design patterns like MVC,
Scaffolding definitely have a mileage over just plain
website of ASP .net.
You may argue (as one of my
friend insisted) that ASP .net also have "scaffolding like" features and Visual
studio is very capable enough to have a data driven website running within few
hours flat(using famous datasets etc).
However, the solution generated by Visual studio lacks the architecture
which is demanded by any professional application. (Read n tier architecture,
TDD design, etc).
The scores along with arguments
1. Rapid development: Score – 9. I was
able to create a working website (MVC implemented along with database in SQL
LITE) in 1 hour flat. I must admit I was just plain amazed by the sheer power of
RoR framework which generated the directory structure and the code with few
Facilities provided: Score – 8. Ruby on Rails is intended to emphasize Convention over Configuration (CoC), and the rapid development principle of Don’t repeat yourself (DRY). Compare this to N tier
Microsoft architecture where services (WCF services) are essentially doing the
same task (mostly to delegate to the layer which actually does the task). DRY is
essentially something which is missing in most of architecture.
Here is a demo:
SP / DataBase
GetData and bind to grid. Make a GetData
GetData and filter based on business logic
GetData. Make a
Read the BOLD text and you will realize that we
are repeating ourselves and then also think that how many times we have seen
this architecture!!! I am sure your answer will be MOST OF THE TIMES. 😀
I idea is not to eliminate the
calls but there has to be a way in the framework which will do the plumbing work
wherever repetitions are required, if any.
"Convention over Configuration"
means a developer only needs to specify unconventional aspects of the
application. For example, if there is a class Sale in the model, the
corresponding table in the database is called sales by default. It is only if
one deviates from this convention, such as calling the table "products sold”
that the developer needs to write code regarding these names. Generally, this
leads to less code and less repetition.
Consider another example where
you specify a database column as:
Name Varchar(50) Not Null.
Then in the UI also you end up
writing the same code implementation in form of RequiredFieldValidators. Etc. The logic for field’s
validation is scattered on UI as well as Database. The idea is to keep the logic
at single, unambiguous place without tight coupling of layers.
3. Database Interaction: Score – 8. Ruby again does fairly well in
this aspect as well. For example, using the ActiveRecord module of Rails, the developer does not need to
specify database column names in class definitions. Instead, Ruby on Rails can
retrieve this information from the database.
From .Net perspective we must use
an ORM (Object relational Modeling) tool to achieve the same, and as ORM tools
are third party, each ones have their own pros and cons. Some of the great ones
I have worked on are LLBL gen (http://www.llblgen.com/defaultgeneric.aspx)
and Genome http://www.genom-e.com/.
4. Major Architecture Paradigm followed: Score
Convention over Configuration (CoC),
Don’t repeat yourself (DRY).
Extensibility: Apart from standard packages, developers can
make plug-in to extend existing packages.
Missing features are: Plug and play functionality (read
IOC: inversion of control / Injection Pattern) required so much by almost every
professional application. Most of the other patterns like Command etc required
by windows apps are missing and must be implemented by hand.
5. Supported UI: Score- 10.Great UI
support with excellent support for AJAX. Framework generates all plumbing code
required at client side to make AJAX call and the server responding to the
request, automatically. Compare this to ASP .net AJAX in which a lot of code is
still required to be written for AJAX call. Also most of this code is repetitive
both in architectural and business sense.
6. Learning curve: Score – 5. The
learning curve associated is very steep. Agreed it may be very easy to build a
website but when it actually comes to implementation and tweaking of
“conventions”, Ruby may require a great deal of inside “know –hows” of how actually RoR works and other details of “Design
patterns” Like MVC, AJAX etc.
7. Delta between what is already known and
what we must acquire to start using the framework. Score –
4. There is a HUGE gap for .Net developers. For a Vanilla website
developer the intricacies of the RoR may be just to demanding as it expects a
great deal of architectural knowledge from them. For instance: A website
developer may ask that I do have a MVC (as in ASP .NET aspx page and its code beside .cs
/ .vb file, NOT to be taken as new MVC .net framework)
then why create whole separate classes for these and what are the benefits.
8. Best Suited for scenarios.
Small to medium websites requiring quick User
Applications may be deployed over various web servers and
not confined to IIS.
My personal verdict for RoR was –
It’s great when used for small to medium website like applications. Also the
programming paradigm which Ruby follows still requires a very steep learning
curve from .net programmers.
In next blog I will be writing
about my previous and current project learning’s and architecture (in .Net
world) used which implemented the paradigm laid down by RoR and Ruby. I will be
blogging on The Castle Project (http://www.castleproject.org/) and the
good stuff it brings along. I will be also talking about how .Net (3.5 and 4.0)
scores over each of the above in its all new avatar.