Some people like it hot, some like it rather cool. Some eat sweets only at work in secret (because their wives at home forbid them) whilst others are happily fed by their partners with carbohydrates and saturated fats every night. Most of the people I know would spend their holidays on sunny, warm beaches yet some unusual exceptions love plenty of snow and go skiing at every possible occasion. I would also say that some like heat and others shade but weather preferences probably aren’t the best benchmark, at least not in Scotland, where it rains more than 300 days per annum on average.
The point is we all (consciously or not) live our life in the pursuit of perfect balance and, although it’s very difficult to achieve in most facets of life, we believe we’ve found it with Rails 3.0 and our development practices.
Our almost Rails 3.1 experience
Rails 3.1 seems to be very close to its final release but at work (like in other aspects of my live) I’d rather avoid living on the bleeding edge and there are number of reasons why I’m not going to give RoR 3.1 a chance… yet. Mainly because I don’t want to get stuck with that “well known bug” deep in the middle of a client’s project or have to deal with some odd incompatibility.
Fortunately though at Primate we are almost there with moving everything we have to Rails 3 and I feel like we’ve found our technological sweet spot some time ago. It’s our perfect equilibrium between framework stability and upcoming improvements, most of which we’ve already embraced in our workflow. Thanks to them we can solve basic problems quicker and spend more time focusing on the more important details and all those tiny things, which we believe, distinguish handcrafted web sites from template based products.
Things from Rails 3.1 we already enjoy
The upcoming new release of RoR is the first step in increasing the quality of backend related code with public assets. Let’s take a look at some of these additions and which ones we already use and are already very happy with:
Finally, real stylesheets
It’s great we finally get Sass in RoR by default. It seems to be the most mature tool on the CSS compiler scene and it’s very hard to write standard CSS again when you’ve tasted the sweetness of Sass in your life. And with the addition of Compass, CSS3 and x-browser compatibility becomes child’s play. I’m also very curious to check what Bourbon has to offer and am absolutely sure we will see more of these Sass based libraries appear in the near future.
JQuery as the default JS library seems to be a natural move and a very welcomed step after so many years of the much more obscure Prototype/Scriptaculous combo. I think there are only few people left in the world who would like to advocate in favor of other general purpose JS frameworks nowadays.
Rails 3.1 improvements we are looking to the most
Sticking to the general front-end assets theme of new the RoR release the most important additions seem to be:
Every improvement in page loading speed is more than welcome and the idea of sending the web responses in chunks, loading static files while still generating page content seems very intriguing. I hope the difference is indeed noticeable and that the required server setup will not cause many headaches.
I believe that the introduction of this by default perfectly ties in with the other front-end improvements and should add to a significant overall performance boost in Rails 3.1 applications. The web industry has made a huge step forward in the last five years and it seems that in the future information processing will move from servers to local machines and HTTP caching will soon become more important for web site performance than ever before. Fortunately Rails seems to be one step ahead… again.
The perfect place
I’m very happy that at Primate we are already natively using some of the most exciting technologies being introduced as part of the next update to the greatest web framework available. I feel that it not only makes our work more pleasant and allows us to think more and code less but it also fundamentally converts into increased client satisfaction and better results for our business. Once again Rails proves to be the best solution for start-ups and businesses built around small development teams where efficiency and agility is as fundamental as creativity and passion.