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White vs Black, Good vs Evil (RailsConf Report)

Posted by Alexander Dymo on October 08, 2006

I thought I'd write some words about RailsConf Europe here. I'll do that now but there's one more important thing I want to tell people here apart from just giving an overview of the conference.

Speaking about RailsConf. There were a lot of interesting technical talks there covering present and future trends in Rails development. I especially liked the new movement towards REST and new developments on ActiveResource RESTful ruby client library which would make interaction between web resource (service) and clients a lot more straightforward than in usual SOAP/XMLRPC case. I even wrote a simple C++ library to do the same thing ActiveResource does. Also interesting was Thomas Fuchs' presentation about javascript testing framework (which supports Konqueror among other browsers btw). There were more cool talks but this blog article is not really about them.

We had two "political" talks at RailsConf both telling us that Rails is cool, Rails is great, Rails is fast, whatsoever. We were also told that any information about Rails' weakness, slowness is just plain FUD. For people not involved in Rails community I'll give several links.

Here and here Joel Spolsky says that Ruby and Rails are slow. This and this are the replies from David Hanssen.

You say, ok, this is just another "language war".

Yesterday I discovered another battlefield. Steve Yegge tries to say that Agile software development can be bad and Agile is basically egomania and religion.

You say, ok, this is not a language but rather methodology war.

But there's a common pattern between those political RailsConf talks, language and methodology wars. In those cases people are presenting things as the fight between Good vs Evil, Right Thing vs Wrong Thing, etc. And when people in both camps do that we have this ridiculous situation when thing "A" can be "Good" and "Evil" at the same time! And more importantly, if we listen to them we naturally hear that things can only be White or Black, there's nothing in between.

So Agile methodology can be "the only true way" if we listen to agilists or "egomania" if we listen to their counterpart. Now I want to ask you, people, is it really so? Is thing "A" doomed to be either White or Black? I really doubt that. "A" can work (or be good) for one group of people, can be bad for another and (sic!) there's a third group of people that don't care of "A" at all.

So there are always situations when you either like something or dislike or don't care. And that doesn't automatically make "something" Good or Evil. Simply put, there're people who want you to think of White vs Black, Good vs Evil and they usually have good reasons to do so (like to get you or your money). Most their reasons and goals may not coincide with yours. Therefore I developed a habit of recognizing this pattern and analyzing all kind of information that comes in that "White vs Black" shell to assure I have my own opinion and make my own decisions and achieve my own results.

Certainly not all people have "Black or White" vision. When it comes for software development methodologies I always remember Barry Boehm and Richard Turner's "Balancing Agility and Discipline" book which is the good example of how can we extract the best thing from all methodologies by avoiding polar "White vs Black".

Same applies for programming languages. Instead of fighting the wars we'd better benefit from all the languages. And here I must admit I'm really sad to see the proposal to choose the only one scrtipting language for KDE. Do you recognize the pattern of "White vs Black" here? I do...

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