I am often asked if I think that clones of Ruby on Rails will become available in insert-your-language-here, and my answer is always “yes and no”.
One of the biggest contributions that Rails has made to the industry as a whole was that it challenged the conventional wisdom about the way things should be done. In doing so, it showed that there was a better way by actual demonstration. Many of ideas behind Rails are, in fact, being cloned in other languages and their web frameworks. But it is my firm belief that, while these clone/borrowers can approach the productivity of Rails in their language, they will not be able to match Rails completely. The reason for this is found in one simple word: Ruby.
The Ruby programming language has a unique confluence of features that made Rails possible. Those of us who have been programming in Ruby for a long time intuitively understand what those language features are, and how they synergistically combine to form the programming language that makes Rails possible. We can even tick this feature list off in our sleep. But it is rare that we are able to articulate the gestalt of these features in a way the nubies can truly understand and appreciate. I know that I haven’t been able to do it!
Fortunately, the pressure is off because Jacob Harris knows how to do it, and he wrote a short PDF book that does precisely this: Rubyisms in Rails (available from Addison-Wesley for $9.99). This book just made my A-list of books I recommend to people who want to know what makes Ruby so special.
From the book’s web page:
Rubyisms is an examination of how the style of Ruby informs the design of Rails. In particular, it looks at a few specific examples of how Rails’ internal code is implemented in Ruby to instruct about Ruby’s design principles. The main goal is simply aesthetic appreciation. But, if you are a beginning programmer in Rails who is stymied in your understanding of Ruby-or an intermediate Rails developer still writing code that looks like Ruby-tinged PHP or Java-this Short Cut will hopefully impart enlightenment and inspiration about the Ruby way of programming. It also reveals how the revolutionary design of the Rails framework can only be built upon the beauty of Ruby.
The book is also available on O’Reilly’s Safari Online service: http://safari.oreilly.com/0321474074/pref01
Very highly recommended!