Most people have already heard the news that Charles, Tom and Nick are going to Engine Yard to work on JRuby. I’ve been asked for my opinion by a few people, and I’ve also seen some common reactions that I would like to comment on. Of course I only speak for myself, not for Charles, Tom or Nick, and definitely not for neither Sun, Oracle or Engine Yard.
Lets get the congratulations in order first. This is great news for Charles, Tom and Nick, and I definitely wish them well with at their new work. I totally understand their move and would have done the same thing if I had been in the same situation.
This is also good news for the JRuby project. The main concern from Charles and company has been to ensure that the JRuby project doesn’t suffer - that has been the overriding concern in this decision. Of course, having Nick be able to work on JRuby proper will also be great. Another full time resource.
Now for some of the comments and worries. Tim Anderson writes in his blog about it: http://www.itjoblog.co.uk/2009/07/jruby.html. The problem with some of the conclusions in this blog, especially that Oracle should have done a better job at reassuring Charles & co about the future of JRuby, goes totally against what is even possible for a company in this situation to do. I’ve heard this comment from several different places, so let me make this very plain. It would have been grossly illegal for any representative from Oracle to give ANY indication to Charles, Tom or Nick about what their intention for JRuby was. It will continue to be this way until the buyout is done. For all we know, Charles, Tom and Nick might have asked any Oracle person they could find what would happen, but they wouldn’t have been able to get an answer they could rely on. That’s how these things work.
Seeing as that insecurity would be around for quite some time, and since this merger is pretty big, it was a reasonable doubt from the JRuby guys perspective that Oracle wouldn’t give any indication for quite some time. During that time the JRuby development would be in jeopardy. So they made a decision to ensure the safety of the project. (When I mean safety of the project, I of course mean continued full time resources for working on it). From this perspective they didn’t really have any choice. This is no indication whatsoever of anything else. It is no indication of Oracle’s future Java strategy, it is no indication of what will happen with languages on JVM in the future. It is just a rational decision based on what can be known right now.
Many from the Ruby and JRuby community has expressed concerns that Engine Yard is primarily a Rails company, and that Rails bugs will take priority over Java integration or other pieces of the JRuby story. This is simply not true. Read any interview with Charles or any of the official announcements. The JRuby focus from Engine Yard will definitely not have overriding Rails concerns.
Another worry I’ve heard is that Engine Yard now “owns” core developers for MRI, Rubinius and JRuby, and as such can use this power to control the future of Ruby. <insert evil laugh here>.
Yes. Engine Yard does have lots of power over the future of Ruby right now. Is that a bad thing? All the above projects are proper open source projects, and nothing EY can do will stop that. EY is a next generation company. They understand open source and they swear by it. Just look at how much internal infrastructure they have opened up and released for general consumption. There can be no doubt that EY believes in open source.
If you’re really worried though… This is your chance to influence things. Submit patches to MRI, Rubinius or JRuby. Contribute enough and you will become a core developer, and you will have as much power as Engine Yard or any of the other core developers. (Remember that only 3 of the 8ish JRuby core developers work for Engine Yard). Once again - if you’re worried, do something about it. Don’t spread FUD.
Personally, I think the future of Ruby is looking bright.