Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ruby.NET is dead! Long live Ruby.NET?

I’m not really a Windows or .Net kind of guy, but I’ve tried to keep an eye on the Ruby.Net and IronRuby. While neither has been as visible inside the Ruby community as, say, Rubinius or JRuby, Ruby.NET has always had a harder time ‘getting the word out’.

Yesterday, Dr. Wayne Kelly wrote an email that said in part:

[W]e set our selves(sic) the goal of running Rails on .NET and we haven’t achieved that yet. If we can leverage our experience to help IronRuby get to that point, then I’d at least have the personal satisfaction of helping see the job completed.

These are just my views. As a researcher, my prime interest is not in developing products, but in developing innovative new ideas and having an impact by having those ideas used in the real world. I’m aware that others in the community will have different goals and so will presumably have a different take on this – I’m keen to hear what you think. If anyone wants to press ahead, then the code base is still owned and controlled by you the community, so you are free to do with it as you please with our full blessing.

I’d also like to make it very clear that this decision is entirely my own – based on research and technical considerations. Microsoft did not in any way suggest or encourage us to kill the project and we thank them again for their support of the project.

I’d like to thank all of our contributors and supporters and apologize if this decision comes as a disappointment. I hope many of you will join me in contributing to the IronRuby project and see it through to a successful completion.

There were two quick responses from the community, from M. David Peterson and Ted Neward which read as though they (at least) will be continuing to work on Ruby.NET. Peterson wrote:

No, in all seriousness after my recent “Ruby.NET Is NOT Dead” speech Dr. Kelly contacted me directly to let me know he was considering what follows. And after reading his thoughts and discussing things with him further I absolutely 100% both stand behind and believe this is the right decision for HIM to make.

Neward responded:

He sent same to me, and while I’m completely behind the idea of HIM moving on if he feels the need/desire to, I still believe that there is room in the world for both a statically-compiled Ruby and a dynamically-interpreted Ruby on the CLR.

Assuming Peterson and Neward move forward with this, and I hope they do, they need to ensure the Ruby.NET community is working harder to engage the broader Ruby community. There are a number of places that this interaction can and should take place: the rubinius spec, future directions of Ruby, ruby conferences (regional and otherwise), and the Ruby blog-space. Peterson and I talked about this in an interview about Ruby.Net, and I believe he’ll work hard to make sure this comunication happens.

Who know’s maybe this is just the kind of shake-up the Ruby.NET community needs to get things moving again.

(By the way, I think the XRuby project is a remarkable parallel. They’re also aiming for static compilation of Ruby, and aren’t comunicating as well as the corresponding dynamic implementation of Ruby for the same VM. Maybe that’s a post for another day.)

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