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On Changing Languages

Posted 2005 Aug 30

A post on the Tucows blog caught my eye because it mentions a situation in which a developer chose to “port” a Java application to Rails. One of the key points against the switch highlights something that developers (myself included) tend to take too lightly:

  • Experienced Java programmers are easier to hire than Ruby hackers, as a general rule

It is easy to overlook the fact that while it’s easy (not to mention kickass) to port a Java app over to Rails, someday someone else is probably going to be supporting it. And it will likely be your employer or your client who is tasked with finding that person…

I had to write a “throw-away” data conversion script and to minimize the boredom and give myself a challenge, I wrote it in Ruby. That being said, it is very simple script and most of the complexity is in the SQL. But it use closures and a few other Ruby-isms. Now the larger project - of which my script was but a small part - has gone well over schedule and is out of control. But, instead of being able to pass my script off to one of the many Java developers at the client and move on… I’m stuck supporting it.

So, now, faced with re-writing another webapp in Java, I will pass on Rails - superior though it may be - in the interest of being a good citizen.

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