Merb <3 Rails

Love is in the air

Love is in the air

Yes, it is true and no, I am not being passive aggressive or cynical.

As you might have heard there has been some tension between the Rails team and the Merb team in the last few weeks. Sometimes caused by us, sometimes caused by them. I already addressed this issue in this blog post, so let’s move on.

Mac vs PC - Matt AimonettiLet me first explain the reason for this blog post. I believe we have a great community but I also believe we like bashing.

Like most Rubyists, I use a mac and I often smile when I watch their ads. Then I see Microsoft’s response ad and I think … they don’t get it, I’m not a Mac, the dude on TV represents the Mac computer. I’m a human.

Thinking back to our community, I felt that it quickly became: ‘Hi, I’m a Rails developer’ and ‘Hi I’m a Merb developer’.

What started as a simple comparison to explain what the difference was between Merb and Rails quickly escalated into arguments about what framework is best and which one people should use.

I hear people in the Ruby community talking trash about Rails and criticize the Rails core team. I even saw people insulting DHH on IRC while he was not even on the channel.

I, myself, have to admit that I have been guilty of crossing the line a few times and have made some comments which can be considered as “bashing”.

I think now is a good time to apologize and to say that this kind of behavior is not appropriate.

After all, if we wanted to define ourselves as being “something” we probably should say: “Hi, I’m a Ruby developer”. Rails is not perfect, nor is Merb. I might disagree with some of the decisions made by the Rails core team but I still think Rails is a great framework and the Rails team has done an awesome job and deserves a lot of respect for its efforts. We are all part of the Ruby community and I think it’s time we all (starting by myself) act as a unified community.

Without further ado, here is my …

Top 10 reasons why we <3 Rails:

  • Without Rails, the Ruby language would not be one of the top 10 programming languages
  • Without Rails, we would still be writing thousand-line configuration files in XML to start your small app
  • Without Rails, most developers would not know what MVC stands for
  • Without Rails, I would not be a Ruby web developer
  • Without Rails, we would not have Merb
  • Without Rails, we would not have all the other cool Ruby frameworks
  • Without Rails, testing would be something only the elite would do
  • Without Rails, serving Ruby web apps would be a pain in the neck
  • Without Rails, Zed Shaw would not be famous

Bonus items:

  • Without Matz, there would be no Ruby
  • Without Ruby, there would be no Rails

Next time you think, I’m a Merb or I’m a Rails, think twice :)

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  1. #1 by Yehuda Katz - December 2nd, 2008 at 22:38

    I couldn’t agree more. While things sometimes have a tendency to get heated, it’s very clear that Rails brought fresh new ideas into the programming world. It’s gotten to the point that every framework, Ruby or non-Ruby, is compared against Rails’ powerhouse of simple ideas that made so many waves.

    For proof, check out, from the official Struts site. “Minimal configuration – Like RoR, Struts2 requires minimal configuration. The both assume “intelligent defaults” for most of the configuration.” It’s darn clear that people across the spectrum have taken a look at Rails and liked what they saw.

    It’s not any different with the Merb team <3

  2. #2 by AJ - December 2nd, 2008 at 22:53

    One love.

  3. #3 by Daniel Neighman - December 2nd, 2008 at 23:03

    Peace Brothers. Well said Matt.

  4. #4 by Liam Morley - December 2nd, 2008 at 23:41

    Without rails, most developers wouldn’t know what MVC stands for? I’m really not sure how to read this. If you mean software developers in general, then I’d say that’s definitely and obviously not true. If you mean web developers, then that’s really sad, and I’d like to believe that it isn’t true. I also don’t really like the distinction. Web developers should be as rigorous in their design as those who develop for other platforms- the medium should not dictate quality, good design is good design regardless of platform. For any developer (web or otherwise) that doesn’t have some kind of cursory familiarity with the Design Patterns book (even though MVC isn’t actually in the GoF book), I’d recommend it before I’d recommend any book presenting a particular language. (Sorry Yehuda, I’d even recommend it, and other books like it, before the books on Merb, or even the pick-axe, though that’s not meant in any way to diminish your writing, just basic priorities.)

    I think we can all agree that the API Soup that was PHP when it first started invites poorly written code and attracts undereducated developers who won’t be forced to actually design their project until after its become a large sprawling mess, and for that, I give a lot of thanks to Rails and other such frameworks (even Java’s Spring framework, in all its configuratory glory). I’m glad that Rails made a few people learn how to design a bit before they jump into the code, and so to that point, I agree with you. (I also wish that more Rails developers would actually *learn* MVC instead of just stumble around blindly trying to bend Rails to their will, but that’s neither here nor there.) Maybe you were just overeager to credit Rails for increasing MVC- and pattern-awareness, though personally I’d hardly go so far as to say that most developers wouldn’t know MVC were it not for Rails.

    It’ll be nice when the drama of Rails vs. Merb is a non-issue. I know you’re trying to put the issue to bed, and this hasn’t been the first time you’ve written about this issue. I’m not sure if blogging about it more helps, or perpetuates, the issue, but if you guys can get on the same page with people like lifo, we might just end up being one big happy Ruby community. Cheers- here’s hoping.

  5. #5 by Mirko Froehlich - December 2nd, 2008 at 23:45

    Well said! I still <3 both Merb and Rails.

  6. #6 by Carlo - December 2nd, 2008 at 23:47

    Well said.

    It’s time for a new plugin: acts_as_unified_community? :)

  7. #7 by Softmind - December 3rd, 2008 at 00:25


    I also agree here with. I would like to add something more..

    Microsoft invented VB6 and killed it to give a new birth to Vb.Net. They even created anew child called C# which was in straight competition with its another child Does this really mean they have done something wrong…? Not at all in my views. It was for the better reason to serve the community in a better way.

    DHH really worked hard, to give birth to Rails and is adopted as a best MVC framework in Ruby. Now Merb community also worked hard to give birth to Merb for the growth of Ruby community. This is a pure advantage for Ruby world.

    Can a human live easily without hands. Never… Now a human can be a righty or lefty and he can write with any hand he prefers.

    Same here…there are two hands for RubyWorld. Rails and Merb. choose whatever suits you.


  8. #8 by Rob Kaufman - December 3rd, 2008 at 00:32

    Well said, very well said.

  9. #9 by joahking - December 3rd, 2008 at 04:06

    You all rock kids!!!! Let there be peace :-)

  10. #10 by Jerome - December 3rd, 2008 at 05:46

    I love Rails and I love Merb. Both gave me the hope of a better future for web development.

  11. #11 by ActsAsFlinn - December 3rd, 2008 at 05:47

    Awesome post, totally right on.

  12. #12 by Luis Lavena - December 3rd, 2008 at 05:54

    I’m a human, a Windows users and a Rubysts… woot, what a combo! :-P

    Well put Matt, that’s the spirit. At the end of the day are best practices and Ruby :-)

  13. #13 by Mike Ryan - December 3rd, 2008 at 06:48

    Top 11 languages ;-)

  14. #14 by Rails Fanboy - December 3rd, 2008 at 07:13

    Zed’s gonna be pissed that you put him at number ten. Can you move him up a few?

  15. #15 by Eloy Duran - December 3rd, 2008 at 07:45

    Oh come on… There’s only one polite way to settle this;
    Bring on the wives, bikinis and mud!

    PS: It’s a win-win situation ;-)

  16. #16 by Craig Buchek - December 3rd, 2008 at 08:34

    I think the Rails-Merb situation is a lot like the Linux-BSD situation. They have very similar goals, but different opinions and strategies about how to achieve those goals.

    I run a local LUG, and consider BSD to definitely be on-topic. BSD and GNU/Linux are sub-communities of the larger Free Software/Open Source community. Likewise, Rails and Merb are sub-communities of the Ruby community.

    I hope that RailsConf and other Rails events/sites/resources continue to accept Merb and other peripheral topics as a part of their community. There’s much to be gained by learning from each other, and it would be a shame to exclude those that are in similar sub-communities.

  17. #17 by Dan Mayer - December 3rd, 2008 at 08:41

    AJ, please say you were thinking of the Flobots when you said ‘One Love’ It would mark the first time I have seen them referred to by developers (I used to make their website before they got all huge).

    I agree that fighting is dumb, but looking and learning from each others frameworks is nearly a requirement for them both to continually improve. If it is more on the humorous jabs level the joking can be a fun way to prod both projects to be better. I agree that people should just be I am a Rubyist first… I really doubt right now you can find many Ruby users who could claim to be a Merb developer who weren’t a Rails developer first. I am both Rails and Merb depending on the situation. In fact I am Rails, Merb, Sinatra, EventMachine, and Rev currently depending on the situation, as I have at least one app of each in production.

    Thanks for the post,a nd good luck to everyone on the Merb and the Rails team to restoring some love.

  18. #18 by Arun - December 3rd, 2008 at 08:54

    Well said!

    Both Rails and Merb can be easily run using GlassFish gem as explained at:

    Using GlassFish, you don’t have to worry about whether you are running a Rails or Merb app, they both co-exist happily there :)

  19. #19 by Derek Neighbors - December 3rd, 2008 at 08:59

    Peace love and Ruby. Is it still okay to hate .NET? ; )

  20. #20 by ysf - December 3rd, 2008 at 21:11

    Actually, ruby is not one of the 10 programming languages :/ It’s down to 11.

  21. #21 by Dave - December 4th, 2008 at 05:05

    As Ruby matures hopefully the community will to

  22. #22 by Millisami - December 17th, 2008 at 13:27

    Though I’ve not digged into merb much deeper, I just love both of them. Rails has eased my web development. Hats off!! to Ruby.

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