Engine Yard Advances Ruby, Rails

With help from Engine Yard, Rubinius now runs Ruby on Rails, and Rails can scale.

What's the matter with Ruby and Ruby on Rails for building large, scalable applications? According to the folks at Engine Yard, absolutely nothing.

San Francisco-based Engine Yard, which provides a hosting environment for Rails applications, is actively working to prove that Ruby is a viable language for and Ruby on Rails is a totally viable Web development framework for building high-volume applications. Ruby on Rails is a Web development framework written in the Ruby language.

Most recently, the team at San Francisco-based Engine Yard has been able to run Rails applications on the Rubinius virtual machine, a small feat.

"Rubinius is able to run some simple Rails apps and we're scaling our capabilities to run all Rails apps," said Evan Phoenix, a software architect at Engine Yard and founder of the Rubinius project, in an interview with eWEEK on May 20. Phoenix started the project in 2006 as a new Ruby interpreter.

In a blog post from May 17, Phoenix wrote: "We hit a major milestone tonight. As most people know, we've been working to run Rails on Rubinius by RailsConf to have something to show off, even if it's pretty slow. Well, I'm super proud to say that tonight, rails served up both static and dynamic pages under Rubinius." RailsConf is set for May 29-June 1 in Portland, Ore.

Ruby Is Not a Toy

The ability to run Rails applications on Rubinius "marks that Rubinius is evolving and is going to be a major player," Phoenix said. "It's not a toy."

Meanwhile, in a May 20 blog post, Antonio Cangiano, a software engineer and technical evangelist at IBM, said: "Once long ago, at the time of my first shootout when Rubinius was a very young project and performed poorly, I had an email exchange with Evan Phoenix and I told him, 'I secretly think that your project may become the most interesting implementation of Ruby.' I stick to that conviction. As long as they manage to improve performance to the point of being as fast as Ruby 1.9, they have a shot at becoming the most popular Ruby VM."

Ezra Zygmuntowicz, another Engine Yard software architect and an expert at scaling Rails applications, said, "Rails is the largest, most complex piece of Ruby code; it's like the benchmark."

David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails, told eWEEK: "Rubinius running Rails is a great milestone for the former. Rails takes full advantage of most all features in the Ruby language and thus if you can run Rails successfully, you can probably run most Ruby applications successfully. Running a Rails application (like 'Hello World') and running all Rails applications is not the same thing, though. I believe it took JRuby almost a year to go from one state to another. For the community at large, it's great to see another implementation of Ruby grow. Soon we'll have three good options to run Ruby programs-the original C-implementation by Matz [Yukihiro Matsumoto], Koichi [Sasada] and the rest of the Japanese crew; JRuby by the Sun folks; and now Rubinius. Good stuff."