I'm doing an experiment, developing an enterprise application in Java and Ruby in parallel, trying to evaluate whether Ruby is enterprise ready, or Java must still remain my weapon of choice.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rapid Prototyping

This week we finally began to do some real work. I focused on designing the services I need to expose to the client application, and figured that it could be a great chance to try Rails out as a platform for rapid prototyping.

The original plan was to write Java code first, Ruby second, but since I’m pretty comfortable with Rails by now, I figured that I should experiment with the other way around as well.

That proved to be a good experience: building a basic relational data model and coding a large number of na├»ve services that manipulate it took roughly one day’s work, including learning ActiveRecord beyond the basics. On top of that, the Ruby code comes out compact and neat. The ease and agility of the process makes it exceptionally adequate for prototyping when you have a very general idea of what the end result should look like. I felt free to code something, test, then change my mind and change the code over and over again.

The crux of the matter, I think, is that the process involved zero configuration, i.e. XMLs and annotations, and the whole change-build-deploy-test process gets shortened significantly. With the latter, it’s not just the time involved – it’s also the annoyance of waiting for the build and deploy tasks to finish – at this point it takes long enough to be annoying, but too short to go read some blog posts while I wait.

Next, I’ll code the same stuff in Java and report on the comparable experience.

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