Ola Bini is a Swedish developer working for ThoughtWorks. His daily job includes working on JRuby, starting up a Swedish ThoughtWorks office and mucking around with Java and Ruby. In his spare time he spends most time on his language Ioke, working on one of several other open source projects or reading science fiction. Ola has presented at numerous conferences, such as JavaOne, Javapolis, JAOO, RailsConf, TheServerSide Java Symposium and more. He is the author of APress book Practical JRuby on Rails Ola is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 45 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Charles, Tom and Nick to EngineYard - and the Future of JRuby

07.31.2009
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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.

From http://olabini.com/blog

Published at DZone with permission of Ola Bini, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Otengi Miloskov replied on Sun, 2009/08/02 - 12:54am

I think this article should be in Ruby zone, Almost the author talk entirely about Ruby and if Ruby future is secure but not about Java or JRuby and Java integration. Go with your Ruby fanboyism to other place please.

Andrei Vishnevsky replied on Sun, 2009/08/02 - 7:56am in response to: Otengi Miloskov

I don't agree. After long way I am using Java it was pleaser to discover such nice OOP language like Ruby. The main reason we have to take care about Ruby is to understand there is another (Smalltalk ancestor) world where we don't need to have so many crunches like Java have got for the last 5 years. No need for bloody AOP, Proxies. Much more elegant OOP concept where, for example, constructor is static (actually in Java constructor is static but it is hidden and impossible to use for developer needs), lack of closures/block, awkward reflection (thanks to special atomic types like “int”, etc), pure exception handling, basic OOP concept of Ruby is much more advanced, etc. I would say Ruby beats Java practically everywhere. Instead of OOP model improving Java designers are busy with such questionable thing like generic. When I am reading about Generic and looking at the samples code “Thinking in Java” Bible gives I am getting lost. Most of the samples have just academically value, some of them are in contradiction with OOP principles (just because author likes C++).  For most Java developers Java is the first (and the only right) programming language. That is another reason why alternatives have to be mentioned, otherwise we will have XML/Java pattern world, the world that Java community creates for own pleasure forgetting about real world, customers and practical tasks. 

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