Last night's Perl Monger's meeting was fantastic. I stopped counting attendees at about 50. We usually have a good crowd, but this was astonishing. The reason? A Ruby On Rails presentation. The regular leader, Josh Heumann, was absent as it was his girlfriend's birthday, so I ran the show. Rather than the usual task of having everyone introduce themselves -- we would have been there all night -- I asked for a show of hands from the Rubyists. Many hands shot skyward. I then asked for a show of hands from the Mongers. Many hands shot skyward. However, we were outnumbered by the Ruby folk. I couldn't believe it. We probably had more Ruby programmers present than there were Ruby jobs available in the entire city.
It's my understanding that the local Ruby groups usually only have about three or four people showing up at their meetings, but I think last night was exceptional because of all of the buzz surrounding Rails. In fact, two of the people there were employed as full time Rails developers -- in different shops.
What? You're not familiar with Ruby on Rails? In less than a year (it was released in July 2004), it has become one of the most hyped Web application frameworks available, and for good reason. This is Ruby's killer app and, I humbly predict, if anything gives Ruby serious traction in programming circles, Rails is it. Heck, it's already doing it. A number of the Rubyists said they had just started Ruby because of Rails. From what we saw last night, I don't blame them. It only took a couple of minutes to develop a basic CRUD app. A few minutes later (with some stumbling), it was converted to an AJAX application. A couple of minutes later, the SOAP WSDL interface was up and running. It doesn't matter what the suits think of Java (or Perl, for that matter), when they see the speed of development here, they're going to sit up and pay attention. Ruby has really arrived.