Ruby on Rails is an open-source web application framework for the Ruby programming language. The growing demand for Ruby on Rails has been driven by successful companies who benefit from the speed and agility of building applications in Rails, which results in increased productivity and company growth. Many of the companies you all know and love use Ruby in some capacity: Amazon, BBC, Cisco, CNET, IBM, JP Morgan, NASA, and Yahoo!. Many of the fastest-growing web-based companies have been built using Ruby on Rails: Scribd (over 70 million readers each month), Groupon (over 38.5 million subscribers in North America), Basecamp (millions of users). All in all, more than 200,000 web sites are using Ruby on Rails.
Reasons Why Your Startup Should Use Ruby On Rails
- Less Is More: You’ve totally bought into the mantra that less complexity is by definition better. Your product is relatively simple and fits nicely into the Ruby On Rails framework including its data persistence layer. You’re trying to intentionally avoid solving hard customer problems that might involve complicated database models In fact, you may have even come up with your startup product idea based on one of the Ruby On Rails tutorials or samples. You’re convinced that the world does not yet have enough web-based, AJAX-driven, database-oriented CRUD applications for managing bugs, wine lists, CD/DVD collections or whatever. In this case, your product was made for Ruby On Rails.
- It’s Cooler: Lets face it, Ruby is just cooler. Java, C#, PHP are soooo last year. Who wants to work on old technology that’s already been out there for more than 5 years? Besides, you’d miss out on all the priceless learning that comes from experimenting with a shiny new framework.
- Cheaper Programmers: Since Ruby On Rails is so cool (see above), people will be willing to work for your startup for less money just so they can get a chance to work with Ruby On Rails. In fact, you might even be able to attract star developers from big companies that are looking to do some resume building, um, I mean learning in your startup.
- Programmer Productivity is Top Priority: Clearly, being able to get a product to market faster is the top priority. In fact, if you can get your productivity high enough, you can afford to be going after the totally wrong or non-existent market opportunity. If your product doesn’t sell, it only took you a couple of months to build it anyways, you can just start over and get it right the next time.
- Impress Venture Capitalists: By this point, all VCs have read about the huge Ruby On Rails movement in their in-flight magazine on the way back from their vacation in Hawaii. Clearly they are going to lean towards startup founders that are looking to push the envelope on new technology and leverage the synergies that come with the seamlessly integrated and psychotically intuitive and elegant coding style that is inherent in Ruby On Rails. This aligns nicely with their focus on funding startups that are curve-jumping, paradigm shifting and market exploiting. All things being equal, you’re more likely to raise funding if you’re on Ruby On Rails than if you’re using one of those other web platform/frameworks.
- You Understand Risk / Reward: You didn’t have to go to business school to know that wherever there is great risk, there is always great reward. And, what could be riskier than building a business on a relatively new technology platform? Of course, if things go downhill, the project is open source so you could always fix it yourself and dig yourself out of whatever hole you might find yourself in. Given that all startups involve risk, you’d much rather take risk on things you can control (like your technology platform) than taking on “market risk” and things that you can’t control.
Clearly, startups would be well served to look at Ruby On Rails as a key differentiator for their startup product. In fact, this decision should be made quickly because as more and more people adopt Ruby On Rails, there’s less and less opportunity for differentiation. In fact, if this whole thing goes too far, it will cease to be “cool” and all that investment in training your development team will be for naught and you’ll have to start again with whatever the shiny new framework is next year.
Choosing a technology platform is a key decision for all startups and the choice should be made both strategic and technology reasons. When tempted to adopt the newest “silver bullet” technology that promises immense gains in programmer productivity (which Ruby On Rails does), understand what the tradeoffs are. To get even keener insight, study a little bit of history and find out what has come before. It’s possible that in your situation Ruby On Rails is indeed the best choice, but likely not for the reasons above. If you find yourself agreeing with one of the eight reasons above, we really need to talk.
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