[LRUG] Does Rails have an image problem?

Edmond Lepedus ed.lepedus at googlemail.com
Tue Aug 18 01:51:15 PDT 2020

Thanks for all your replies. Some really interesting points there. The ones that resonated the most with me were
- ask them to sell me on NodeJS 
- figure out what the other devs care about
- ask why so many large, successful companies are built on Rails

I also really enjoyed reading the post about when Rails is not the right choice, and re-reading the Rails Doctrine, which is also one of the major draws of Rails. I have shared both with the team.

In terms of providing additional context, I have recently joined a small web team in a larger games company. Our focus is to deliver added value services eg forums, leaderboards, achievements etc for our players. Although I’m only a few months in the role, the company has been a client of mine for many years, and I was involved in delivering the original MVP system before there was even a dedicated team for it. Back then, the project had been started in Java + Angular, but due to hiring difficulties, I was brought in to get it over the line. I made the point even then that Rails would be a much better choice, but there simply wasn’t time to start over. Since then, the frontend has been rewritten in React, and although we still have the old Java backend, new services have been built in NodeJS (Express + Sequelize). Now we are building a new profile service, which will likely grow and eventually take over the last bits of functionality from the Java API so it can be retired. Our team has complete autonomy when making tech choices, so it’s ‘just’ the other devs I have to convince.

The main challenges our team faces are
- limited dev resource
- brittle systems, partly due to lack of automated testing (we have committed to adopting BDD going forward)
- issues hiring and onboarding due to having a mishmash of stacks, largely homegrown systems and virtually no documentation for any of them

I believe Rails will help with all of the above by improving productivity, providing handrails for our adoption of automated testing, and providing a robust, well-known and well-documented foundation for our services.

I think the main concerns are the initial productivity drop while everyone gets up to speed, the ‘loss’ of mindshare invested in NodeJS, and potentially making our onboarding even more difficult in the short term as we will have Java, Node, Rails & React.

> On 17 Aug 2020, at 18:06, Ed James <ed.james.spam at gmail.com> wrote:
> Interesting topic.
> Ed > it’s not entirely clear from your original message who exactly it is that you’re selling Rails to - is it the dev/tech team or the business? 
> In my experience selling Rails to the business has always been the much easier sell, with the only reassurance required being the availability (and cost!) of developers. However, trying to sell Rails to a team of developers is likely to be extremely difficult in most cases. 
> It’s probably also worth thinking about whether it’s difficult because "Rails is Rails", or whether it’s difficult because "Rails is different-to-what-is-already-being-used”. Any tech team worth its salt will know that moving to any other tech stack is a big commitment which will likely have an early adjustment period of bewilderment and steep learning curves, resulting in reluctance/resistance to change.
> Hope that helps.
>        	Ed James 
> I will respect your spam <mailto:ed.james.spam at gmail.com>
>> On 17 Aug 2020, at 16:29, Edmond Lepedus <ed.lepedus at googlemail.com <mailto:ed.lepedus at googlemail.com>> wrote:
>> Hi LRUG,
>> Once again I’ve recommended Rails for a project, and once again, I’ve found it a really hard sell, and I suspect the decision will be to use NodeJS instead. It seems that outside of the Rails community, most devs have a pretty poor opinion or just lack of visibility into the awesomeness of Rails. I’ve been asked questions like “Isn’t Rails abandonware now?”, been pointed to StackOverflow’s developer survey (https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2020#technology-most-loved-dreaded-and-wanted-other-frameworks-libraries-and-tools-loved3 <https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2020#technology-most-loved-dreaded-and-wanted-other-frameworks-libraries-and-tools-loved3>) as ‘evidence’ for NodeJS’s superiority and been told that “the majority of Rails consultants make their money on migrating people to other platforms”. This is not a new thing. I’ve been recommending Rails for web projects for nearly 7 years, both as an employee and as a consultant, with zero success. And before you think it’s just my credibility, I’ve not had any issues when recommending, WordPress, NextJS, Kubernetes, Ansible etc. It’s just Rails.
>> My current team would benefit hugely from Rails. It would do wonders for everything from code quality and productivity to documentation and our ability to hire and onboard new developers, but I fear that we will once again default to NodeJS and miss out on most of those benefits. 
>> The weird thing is that we use and love systems written in Rails, such as GitLab, and have enthusiastically committed to migrating our forums to Discourse, but the halo effect from those projects doesn’t seem to be affecting perceptions of Rails itself.
>> How do you sell Rails in a compelling way?
>> Thanks,
>> Ed
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