Peter Marklund

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The Threat of New Technologies

In the midst of one of the many Java/Rails flamewars (haven't we had enough of them already?) I found a thought provoking comment by the creator of Tapestry on Rails and the resistance to technology change among developers:

"It's natural to be a little scared of new developments. It's painful to think that your exclusive, hard-won skills may be even a little bit obsolete. When I see Flex, Laszlo or Rails, my stomach does a little flip-flop in terms of all the effort I've put into Tapestry. But the reality is that *all* of these approaches are transitory (I'm sure we'll all be doing something quite different in five years), and we should embrace change, learn from other's efforts, and create even better frameworks and applications."

"For example, there may come a time when much Tapestry work is done using Trails (a Tapestry/Rails/Spring/Hibernate hybrid). Trails may never have offer quite the same developer productivity as Rails, but it is still a gateway into full-blown Tapestry and J2EE development."

Openness to new programming languages and toolkits seems to be a common characteristic among leaders in the programming community. The best example of this is probably the Pragmatic Programmers who came up with the now famous advice to learn one new programming language a year. I can't help but wonder that maybe if Dave Thomas hadn't picked up and documented Ruby, David Heinemeier Hansen would not have discovered it either and Rails would not have been a reality today.

I have been impressed that so many Java heavy weights (David Geary/JSF, James Duncan Davidson/Ant, Bruce Tate etc.) have had the courage to step up and recommend Rails. Personally I'm certainly ready and well equipped to make the transition to Rails and the urge to do so is bigger than ever now that I am back working in the less productive and overly complicated Java world.