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Let’s face it. Ruby on Rails is old. Really old. But judging by the changes that happen on the tech market it’s an extremely mature technology, so it makes perfect sense to use it in certain cases and applications.

Why are we talking about it again? Ruby and Ruby on Rails community has been having a tough time in the past few years, due to evident decrease in interest from companies and developers. More and more startups and development teams opt for alternative technologies because of many significant downsides these two technologies have by today’s standards.

One may argue that “Ruby is dead” or “Rails is dead” and they may be having a valid point. These rumours didn’t come from nowhere.

Being in business since 2011 and a Ruby shop since the beginning, here at Rebased we have evaluated numerous alternatives for server-side web application development. Currently, at the end of 2018, I am certain that Ruby on Rails is still the best tool for quick, secure and high quality development of web applications, for most use cases. The rise of rich JavaScript applications have shifted some of the logic onto the frontend and together with emergence of “serverless” tools it means shrinking backend’s responsibilities, maybe even down to just SQL-JSON translation and authorization, but with that being said Ruby on Rails remains as our choice for building backends that are bigger than a few remote function calls. That does not mean Rails is our only-and-always choice, as there are cases when we pick a different technology that’s a better fit for some specific applications, but overall it seems 2019 will also be a year of mostly-Rails for us.

~Tomasz Stachewicz, CEO of Rebased

RoR used to be Web 2.0 poster child. After many painful years spent on creating spaghetti code in PHP, you could simply build a blog in under 15 minutes. No kidding! On top of that the code looked beautiful!

For the first couple of years since the launch, Ruby on Rails turned out to be good enough to build products such as marketplaces, e-commerce sites or even social networks. Everything has changed when smartphones began to gain popularity. Things got significantly more complicated.

It turned out that Ruby on Rails is not a perfect technology after all! It is certainly not the best choice to handle problems such as Machine Learning or Blockchain (is it still a thing in 2019?). Twitter moved from Ruby on Rails to Scala, other platforms opted for Go or Rust. It was a big hit for RoR community. People realized that it is not a good technology to handle hundreds of millions of users globally. Unless you’re willing to scale it on multiple servers but that’s a different and expensive story.

Now, a few years later we ask ourselves a question. Is Ruby on Rails really dead? Does it still make sense to use Ruby on Rails to build your product? Oh boy. Let’s find out!

Statistics

StackOverflow

trends

Let’s start with some data from StackOverflow. We can clearly see a significant decrease in community engagement from Ruby and Ruby on Rails compared to Node.js. Yet, Node.js’ community is continuously growing and getting highly popular. Interest in Ruby on Rails framework and Ruby language is closer to 0% than ever before.

StackOverflow Developer Survey

survey

StacOverflow’s annual tradition is to ask developers what they think about certain programming languages themselves and the industry in general. With that, one of the questions was what programming language do they use at work and the results are visible above.

According to the results from the same survey, globally Ruby developers have a salary of $64 000. That’s quite lower than Clojure ($72 000), Rust ($69 000), Erlang ($67 000) or even Go ($66 000) but much higher than JavaScript ($55 000).




Indeed

Things look a bit different if we focus only on the United States.

indeed

You can clearly see that Ruby developer is still one of the highest paying jobs in this category but the number of available positions are getting lower and lower. There are nearly 2-times more open positions for a Node JS developer than there is for a Ruby on Rails developer.

Rails developers are more expensive than Node.js

Judging by this data, it’s clear that programmers experienced with Node.js have much lower salary than those with RoR. Keep this in mind because it may be a significant factor for you when developing a product as it impacts the total development cost of your web product.

Chances are that you will be assembling your development team from scratch. From our experience you shouldn’t have much problems with availability of skilled programmers on the market. There are still thousands of skilled Ruby on Rails developers looking for new exciting projects but their number is getting lower. Of course it varies by location so we advise you to do your own research in your local area. Or just outsource/co-source the development.

RedMonk

8th place in June of 2018.

redmonk

RedMonk takes GitHub and StackOverflow interest in the language and then compares it with all other major languages. We can clearly see that Ruby is far from being dead as many of doomsayers tend to say. With Ruby being kind of at the top we can conclude that it is still a popular language used to develop tools and apps. But don’t get too excited.

GitHub Stats

osctoverse

This comparison shows how popular a certain language is among GitHub contributors - in other words, how many repositories are developed in a certain technology. It’s quite clear who’s the real winner. As we can see, fewer and fewer projects opt for Ruby. Even though it is still in the top 10 most popular languages out there, it’s used less and less each year.

Ruby Gems

While we’re at this topic let’s see how are Gem downloads holding up. Infinium made a really cool comparison of Gem downloads. They have been tracking the downloads for quite some time and storing in on their database. As a result we can learn more about the current situation Ruby on Rails is in and it doesn’t look really good.

According to data gathered by Infinium, Fewer and fewer Gems are being created each year and the same thing goes for their releases. On the other hand, Ruby on Rails downloads are looking much better compared to the previous year.

2019 - there was never a better way for Ruby than 2018, but 2019 shows even bigger potential. Ruby is growing very quickly in the niche it dominates - web development and backend APIs. I’m observing the Ruby market since 2004 and I have never been as excited abour Ruby than now. I see people from different languages switching to Ruby (only at Arkency alone there are 2 ex-c# programmers). Ruby keeps making the developers happy, while at the same time it’s a much more mature ecosystem. I’m especially excited about the growing adoption of DDD/CQRS/Event Sourcing techniqes and mutation testing in the community.

~Andrzej Krzywda, Arkency

So it’s 2019. What apps are still using Ruby on Rails?

Well, quite a lot actually.