I could never wrap my head around Rails. But when I worked in Chicago, I met dozens of people who could not only understand Rails, but could make things very fast with it. Since then I’ve seen many arguments for and against Rails by many smart people.
My conclusion is that it comes down to differences in the way people think. People will just naturally fall into a category where they prefer Rails, or they hate it and prefer Sinatra & co. At the end of the day, both can (and usually do) accomplish the exact same thing, but they do it in fundamentally diffent ways.
Rails is a typical macro-framework. It takes the approach of giving you an overall project structure, a handful of helper methods, and a ton of conventions that it asks you to just memorize. The idea is that you want to have to write as little code as possible that’s not directly related to your business model, which I think is a noble goal, but also that you should never have to look up documentation, because the framework makes everything about itself “guessable”. For many people, these conventions and functionality are intuitive and predictable, and it takes almost no effort to memorize them. If Rails makes sense to you after spending an hour learning it, then you are most likely a Rails person, and thus a macro-framework person.
But I wasn’t a Rails person. After months of studying and trying to memorize its conventions and methods, it just never clicked. So I tried Sinatra, a popular micro-framework at the time, and found that I was able to achieve the high speed of development others were getting with Rails. I think the difference is that, with a micro-framework, you are given individual pieces with highly specific purposes, well-defined inputs and outputs, and shown how they fit together. It’s like putting pipes together to get water from A to B. You can start building at either end, or even in the middle, and just start connecting them. If you like to understand how every piece of the puzzle fits together, then you probably prefer micro-frameworks.
Both require a fair amount of configuration and/or installing third party libraries to get them solving any real-world tasks securely and efficiently. Micro-frameworks get a lot of flak for this, saying that they don’t come with as much solved out of the box. But even though macro-frameworks come with some of those features (but not all), they still require extra configuration to get those features working.
I’m convinced that one isn’t better than the other, and that it all comes down to personal preference and ability. Not everyone thinks the same way, or works the same way. I think that’s why micro-frameworks and macro-frameworks pop up in every single popular server-capable language, and why it’s silly for people to debate which style of framework is superior.
My name is Steven Degutis, and I've been writing software professionally for a decade. During that time, I've written many apps and websites, quite a few technical articles, and kept up-to-date with the rapidly evolving software industry.
If you have software needs for web, mobile, or desktop, and are looking for a seasoned software professional, please reach out to me at email@example.com to set up a phone call.
- Self-employed – present
- Clean Coders – 5 years
- 8th Light – 2 years
- Big Nerd Ranch – 1 year
- Self-employed - 1 year
- Web: full-stack
- iOS (UIKit)
- macOS (Cocoa)
- REST APIs
- AWS / EC2 / ELB
- HTML5 / CSS
Over the past decade, I've written a total of 172 technical articles on various programming languages, frameworks, best practices, and my own projects, as I kept up-to-date and active in the software industry.
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- 2017 — "Clean code" isn't actually clean
- 2017 — Passion in your field is overrated
- 2017 — What I learned in 5 days of writing an experimental website
- 2014 — Age of the Polyglot
- 2013 — How to Program
- 2013 — Ignore the Naysayers
- 2013 — Writing Clearly
- 2012 — Reinvent the wheel
- 2010 — Good usability
- 2009 — Twitter is the wrong tool
- 2009 — We're all pretty bad at driving
- 2008 — Why I Code
|August||NDD: Narrative Driven Development|
|August||The truth about TDD|
|August||Macroframeworks vs Microframeworks|
|March||Notes on Haskell Extensions|
|February||Second thoughts on front-end tools|
|February||First thoughts on front-end tools|
|February||Some thoughts on GUIs|
|February||First thoughts on OCaml|
|February||First thoughts on Haskell|
|August||Age of the Polyglot|
|August||The history of Mjolnir|
|August||Quitting the GUI wars|
|June||Lua: my new favorite extension language|
|January||My programming life-goals|
|January||Lingua Latina, Pars I|
|January||Allocating an AST on the stack|
|April||Ruby Accessors Considered Pernicious|
|March||Reinvent the wheel|
Here are some of the projects I'm most proud of. They were created using a variety of technologies, running on several different platforms and OSes. They're all finished products, and many of them are open source.
I made Docks in 2009 for users who wanted to swap out icons in their Dock with a single click. Its unique functionality and design aesthetic attracted the attention of Apple, Engadget, MacWorld, and led to an acquisition of my start-up by Big Nerd Ranch.
This toy was made in a weekend to entertain my 1 year old daughter. It lets you create bubbles with your fingers, which then simulate physics by bumping into each other and falling.
When I couldn't find an app in the App Store that let me make very simple lists extremely quickly, I made one myself. I use it almost every day to organize and track my activities.
I created this app to increase my productivity by letting me move windows around in macOS using keyboard shortcuts. It grew into a community-driven highly extensible app, using Lua for its plugin system.
Implementing this elite social network gave me experience integrating both Apple Pay and credit card payments (via Stripe.com) seamlessly into web apps, for a frictionless and pain-free payment experience.
This isn't just any chatroom. In this web app, you can see what everyone is typing while they type it. I made this in order to scratch my itch for making real-time apps and games, and learned how to use WebSockets in the process.
This was written in 2009, before the time of Slack, when IRC was the main way for programmers to get short-term assistance from each other. Its purpose was to be a beautiful app with an emphasis on simplicity and usability over technical power.
This is an app I actually use every single day. It lets you move windows with global keyboard shortcuts. Since it uses Vim-like key bindings, it should feel pretty natural to any programmer. There's no configuration needed; it Just Works™.
As an evolution of Phoenix, Hydra was my first attempt at embedding a full Lua virtual machine into an Objective-C app, to make a lightweight and efficient window manager that focused on speed, low memory usage, low CPU usage, and overall being gentle on laptop batteries.
These may be tiny, but they're interesting technical feats.
|Lua4Swift||Swift framework for embedding Lua with a native Swift API.|
|choose||Command line fuzzy-matching tool for macOS that uses a GUI|
|music||Command line music daemon for macOS that only speaks JSON|
|hecto||Command line text editor with an embedded Lua plugin system|
|ZephSharp||Window manager for Windows using Clojure for scripting|
|management||Minimalist EC2 configuration & deployment tool in Ruby.|
|go.assert||Assertion helper package for writing tests in Go.|
|go.shattr||Go library for printing shell-attributed strings to stdout.|
|OCDSpec2||Objective-C based testing framework with Xcode integration.|