Ruby on Rails and Twitter
I really like Twitter. I really do. I wouldn’t call it a revolutionary service, but it definitely is the next step in keeping connected with your friends and family assuming they are also using it.
I signed up for Twitter at the beginning of March and had no issues getting it setup and working great with my phone (via SMS) and my IM client (Google Talk). For a month or so, I had almost no issues to speak of and believed the simple service to be virtually bullet proof in its reliability.
Twitter is largely built on Ruby on Rails which is a great platform for getting an application built quickly. I haven’t had a huge level of exposure to RoR, but I spent some time evaluating it for reasons of personal interest and generally liked what I saw.
However, I’ve recently been having serious problems with Twitter and its service. It often doesn’t work at all (“System Outages”), IM hasn’t worked in at least a week, and searching is spotty at best. There are also multiple articles on the Internet discussing Twitters problems with RoR as its application framework.
Twitter is a hugely complicated site beyond a simple page-view sort of scenario. Not only do they offer a great API that has been utilized by all sorts of websites and desktop applications alike, they also have to deal with connectivity to IM services and other auxiliary systems such as SMS.
Considering everything surrounding Twitter, I’m not quite sure if I want to pursue my interested in RoR beyond what I already know. I am very aware of how wonderful the framework can be (there a lots of very vocal Rails developers that ostentatiously sing its praises at the top of their lungs wherever they go), but this experience has made me think twice about adopting a technology that doesn’t seem to scale nearly as well as other application frameworks built on Java, PHP, and even (shudder) .NET.
There is probably a lesson in here somewhere about being very careful regarding the sorts of things a community communicates. RoR is probably not going to miss me, but how many other developers are watching this from the sidelines, just as I am, and reevaluating their wish list of new technologies to play around with?
I’m absolutely not saying RoR is off the table for me, but I have moved it down the list considerably. Should the RoR community be at all worried?