Merb: Ruby on Rails Meets the Enterprise

The Merb community releases Merb Release Candidate 1.0, a Web development framework similar to Ruby on Rails that is geared more toward enterprise applications, its creators say.

Engine Yard, a provider of cloud deployment and open-source tools for Ruby and Ruby on Rails applications, has announced the first major release of the open-source framework Merb.

The Merb community released Merb Release Community 1.0 at MerbCamp, which ran Oct. 11-13 in San Diego. Merb is designed for building fast, high-performance Ruby applications, according to Yehuda Katz, an Engine Yard software engineer and Merb core developer. Similar to Ruby on Rails, Merb is an MVC (model-view-controller) framework, but it features a modular-rather than monolithic-architecture with minimal clean core code that is simple, organized and easy to extend.

"Ruby continues to be one of the fastest growing programming languages in terms of adoption," said Ezra Zygmuntowicz, founder of the Merb project and co-founder of Engine Yard, said in a statement. "Merb offers Ruby programmers another choice for building Ruby applications. We believe this release of Merb and the community enthusiasm we've seen for the project since its inception are a testament to a healthy and robust Ruby ecosystem."

Katz said Merb "takes what Ruby on Rails taught the world and tries to make it so people can use Ruby to build more complex applications." Indeed, said Katz, "There is a whole bunch of people who fell in love with Ruby and realized Ruby would be around a long time, and they needed something stronger" than Ruby on Rails.

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Moreover, Merb relies on an extensible, pluggable architecture, Katz said. Though Merb's code base is kept to the bare minimum, it offers powerful features such as flexible routing, more control over groups of processes, and a coherent maintained stack. Additional features can be plugged into the framework using standard gems. Moreover, Merb is agnostic when it comes to ORM (object-relational mapping) tools, JavaScript libraries and template languages, thus giving programmers a wide range of choice.

Developers at Howcast Media said they like Merb because it provides a lightweight and portable application framework to develop database-driven Web sites quickly. They also said they like that Merb is built from the ground up for high performance and scalability. Merb allows the developer to pick and choose the components needed for an application and avoid the overhead of maintaining large applications with components that aren't used or aren't optimal for the task. This is beneficial to because it uses many plug-ins and Ruby gems to interface with third-party services. Merb, with its extensible architecture, allows users to package third-party components into the application easily to make it more portable.

"Merb is a fantastic framework for building portable applications," said Russell Taga, director of engineering at Howcast Media. "We've had great success using it and will definitely utilize it more in the future as we continue to scale"