Is Ruby on Rails Still Worth it in 2017?

Published Mar 10, 2017Last updated May 10, 2017
Is Ruby on Rails Still Worth it in 2017?

Choosing the right programming language to learn is a lot like picking your first car. Do you take the trendy model that everyone says is going to be the hottest new thing this year? Or do you stick with the old and reliable, knowing that it will be able to get you from A to B and will never go out of style?

Wherever you end up, there’s more pressure than ever for coders to not only adapt to different languages, but also become technical polyglots able to work in a number of different programming languages. For those looking either to take their first dive into coding or expand their knowledge base, making a commitment to a language that may disappear next year can be downright frightening. Of course, resources from which you can learn new coding languages have never been more plentiful, but that still isn’t enough to take the edge off.

Before you enroll in classes, you have to decide whether that specific framework is worth it for you to learn in the first place. In this post, we’ll break down the reasons for why Ruby on Rails is still a solid choice for developers.

Ruby on Rails by the Numbers

Knowing when a language is on its proverbial deathbed is never easy, but there are often a few indicators that it’s near its stagnation terminal.

But Ruby’s numbers point in an altogether different direction.

A useful resource is RedMonk’s Programming Language Rankings, which compares performances of programming languages relative to one another on GitHub and Stack Overflow. In this ranking, Ruby placed 5th, tying with C# and C++. Not too shabby for a language that some say is on its last leg, no?

The TIOBE Index proved the ROR is still relevant as well. In, February Ruby was ranked 11th, the exact same position it was in 2016. TIOBE decides its ratings based on the number of skilled engineers across the globe, courses, and third party vendors that use a particular development language. The index also takes into account of the search volume on popular websites like Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, YouTube, Baidu, etc.

Even though people have been preparing for the Ruby funeral pyre for awhile now, but as the numbers show, the determined ROR is not ready to disappear off into the sunset just yet. This also proves that Ruby isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.

What we just mentioned are merely the tip of the iceberg. There are multiple metrics out there that will likely put Ruby somewhere in the top ten (or nearabouts) programming languages being used.

Even the surveys that try to put a dint in the shine of Ruby fail to blacken it completely. CodeEval compiles a list of the most popular coding languages via 1,200,000 challenge submissions in 26 different programming languages. The results? Ruby on Rails is again in the top ten — this time, Ruby came 7th. The only caveat is that the language dropped in usage by 17% from 2015 to 2016. But Python, the overall winner in the survey, also dropped nearly 15% from the year before, making Ruby hardly an outlier.

Why Ruby on Rails Isn’t Dead

There are plenty of doomsayers out there who believe Ruby has lost its shine. The metrics might show otherwise, but the popular ‘Ruby is dead’ meme has not subsided in 2017, nor is it likely to.

That doesn’t mean the framework is a bust. There’s a reason why people loved Ruby in the past, and still do.

What makes Ruby such a controversial language in the coding community is its ability to streamline. While other languages prioritize ultimate customization and limitless options, they often do so at the expense of usability. That’s where Ruby comes in. Ruby also has some additional benefits of its own in that lures developers.

Looking to cut away some of the fat, Ruby decided that it would be a full-stack language with enough defaults to help ease some of the common headaches associated with coding.

Of course, purists will never like the idea of someone else making decisions for them when they program, and that’s okay. No language is for everyone. But this is the divide that brewed the animosity towards Ruby.

The creator of Ruby on Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson, summarized the framework rather succinctly in two tenets:

  1. We have a unique ideological foundation that’s still controversial today and offers the same benefits against the mainstream choices as it did thirteen years ago,
  2. We have a pragmatic, full-stack answer that could be formulated based on that ideology that still offers amazing productivity from the second you run the rails new command.”

Obviously, Hansson isn’t exactly unbiased when it comes to judging coding languages, but he presents a powerful argument as to why he believes that Ruby is just as relevant today as it was 13 years ago.

So What’s Next for Ruby on Rails?

Learning to code is never a bad skill to have. Learning a new coding language probably won’t hurt you either. Even if the framework becomes obsolete, there’s still knowledge you can carry over to a new programming language.

With that said, Ruby on Rails is no where close to becoming obsolete.

That is not to say Ruby on Rails is a flawless programming language. Of course there will be security issues, as is the case with every other programming language, but just as in this case, web developers can find ways to fix them too.

With so many coding frameworks to choose from today, knowing where to invest your time and money is not an easy matter. Ruby on Rails is still a safe bet – even in 2017. If you’re looking for one of the most user-friendly experiences in the world of coding, you could do a whole lot worse than committing to Ruby on Rails.

Author Bio: Brooke loves surfing through social media, so she made it her full time job. She now works as a social media manager at Entrance Software Consulting. She loves all things tech. When she's not working, she eats and sleeps, in that order.

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