Ruby, Ruby on Rails Gain Steam

Investment and venture capital are still flowing to Ruby and Ruby on Rails companies.

Benchmark Capital on Jan. 11 announced a $3.5 million investment in Engine Yard, a provider of Ruby on Rails application deployment and support. Engine Yard CEO Lance Walley said the funds will be used to expand the company's operations, strengthen its customer service organization, enhance Ruby on Rails tooling and help support community projects based on Ruby on Rails.

Mitch Lasky, a general partner at Benchmark Capital, said the venture capital firm invested in Engine Yard for several reasons, one of which was, "We had been looking at Ruby on Rails for quite a long time." Lasky said he had seen many potential Benchmark clients come in and make presentations about Ruby on Rails solutions or saying they had to make sure their platform was compatible with Ruby on Rails.

Lasky said Benchmark approached Engine Yard, not the other way around. "Our expectation is they [are] poised to become a thought leader in the Ruby on Rails community," he said.

Walley said the Benchmark investment will not only help Engine Yard expand its hosting business, but also will enable the company to support community projects such as Rubinius and Merb. Rubinius is a project to develop the next-generation virtual machine for the Ruby programming language. Merb is a Model View Controller Web application framework written in Ruby. Both projects were created by Engine Yard engineers. Moreover, Walley said the venture capital funding is enabling his company to open new data center locations in Sacramento, Calif., in New Jersey and in London.

Walley also said Engine Yard will use the funding to create a software stack or distribution to help Ruby on Rails further succeed as a developer platform.

In other Ruby news, SapphireSteel Software on Jan. 7 launched a new version of its Ruby On Rails IDE (integrated development environment), Ruby In Steel, complete with a copy of Visual Studio 2008, for $49. The company refers to this version as its "Text Edition" to distinguish it from the top-of-the-line Developer Edition. The "Text Edition" has Ruby and RHTML (HTML with embedded Ruby) and embedded Ruby editing and debugging and is hosted in the Visual Studio shell.

Meanwhile, WSO2, an open-source SOA (service-oriented architecture) company, said it plans to announce on Jan. 14 its WSO2 (WSF/Ruby) Web Services Framework for Ruby 1.0. WSF/Ruby is an open-source framework for providing and consuming Web services in Ruby and the company claims it is the first Ruby extension to offer extensive support for the standard Web services stack known as WS-* or WS-Star.