Fragmentation in the Ruby Community

Posted on May 14, 2014 - Subscribe - Home

I recently spoke on a legacy rails panel at Wroclove.rb. You should watch the video if you haven't, there is a lot of good stuff in there. Speaking on the panel publicized own personal opinions. It was cathartic in a way and it felt great. In hindsight I realized I've been thinking about this post for much longer than I thought. The recent TDD (is dead) discussion is bringing more thoughts to light.

The Ruby community is fragmenting. The community needs new leadership.

The TDD discussion exemplifies one fault lines: Rails. This has been going on for years now, but I think the gap is widening more quickly in recent years. I wrote moving on from Rails in 2011. It's more relevant than ever. There is a growing portion of the community that has zero interest in Rails. It is awesome to meet more and more of these people. There are people who live and breathe Rails and the "Rails Way". In my experience you either buy into the Rails Way or you don't. I haven't found a middle ground. There are members of the Ruby community who work and ship plenty of code doing TDD, applying patterns, and using other system architectures. There are people who care passionately about these things and know they're important. This is visible in people's personal descriptions: "Rails Developer" or "Ruby Developer". There is a key difference.

I do not want to see an entire language ecosystem driven by the head of a web framework. I don't usually say good things about Javascript, but I envy their diversity. The language is used in so many places now that there are simply more people involved. There are the browser framework guys and there is all a bunch of Node community leaders. The Ruby community does not have that. We have one person with his own conference and almost religious following. There are Ruby developers in the community that I respect, but it seems like a loose coalition rather than a figurehead. I'd like to see new leaders with wider experience who focus on Ruby itself and not a single use case. Perhaps those of us with experience just need to be more vocal. Hopefully we can change the community's direction.

— Adam Hawkins