>> Would Rails , for example, have been as successful if people had to 
>> manually install the half-dozen or so required libraries?
>
> Eh, there is one tar.gz that contains all of Rails libraries, where's
> the problem with that?

Further more, Rails didn't support RubyGems until a couple of releases 
in.

Where RubyGems has made a big difference, I think, is for upgrading and 
trying out new versions of libraries you already have. So basically, 
it's the library versioning that, to me, is one of the biggest draws of 
RubyGems.

It's funny, though. I remember some early discussion on RubyGems where 
someone pointed out that while library versioning was nice in theory, 
but who would _really_ want to have multiple versions of the same 
library installed? Hehe.

Killer features often only reveal themselves after people try it out on 
real problems.

So while I don't think its significantly easier to first install 
RubyGems, then gem Rails over just installing Rails from files, I think 
RubyGems makes it much more enjoyable to follow the development of a 
library or framework.

Of course, when RubyGems is included in 1.8.3 (hopefully or, pain, 
pain, 1.8.4), I think that's when RubyGems will make its mark for 
increasing the first-time visit of libraries on newbies coming to Ruby.


And thanks for all the kind words about Rails. Ruby is ripe to make a 
similar splash in other areas than web applications. Can't wait to see 
the next triumph push Ruby even further.
--
David Heinemeier Hansson,
http://www.basecamphq.com/   -- Web-based Project Management
http://www.rubyonrails.org/  -- Web-application framework for Ruby
http://www.loudthinking.com/ -- Broadcasting Brain