On Oct 5, 2010, at 16:58 , Ed Reed wrote:

> What am I missing here? This goes back to my original question. Where =
is=20
> all the hype coming from? I was writing CGI apps for Windows using VB6=20=

> over 15 years ago and even back then it was a lot easier than this. =
I'm=20
> willing to get on board but how much non-billable time does a person=20=

> have to spend on this stuff?

I sympathize. I actually decided to learn Ruby just a few months after =
Rails was first released, so I've been programming in Ruby for years. =
However, I've been using it for OS apps, not web apps. Earlier this =
year, I finally had a chance to do some web dev, and I rubbed my hands =
together. "Oh, boy, I finally get to use Rails! I've heard it's really =
fabulous! This ought to be really fun!"

Alas, no, it was really quite a nightmare.=20

Part of the problem is that once upon a time, middleware was =
comprehensive. Active Server Pages or Tango or SilverStream or =
WebObjects, by necessity, had to include everything you needed to go =
from database to web server. With Tango (the platform I used heavily =
back in the mid '90s), I needed a working ODBC connection to my database =
(SQLServer), and a web server (IIS or WebStar), and Tango. That's it.=20

Now, everything comes in pieces, and you have to snap it together =
yourself, and there's just so much more opportunity for things to not =
fit together correctly.=20

My current web-app environment is PostgreSQL for the database, Apache =
&/or Mongrel &/or WeBrick for the web server (I really don't understand =
that part yet). The ODBC driver has been replaced with some postgres =
libraries and the pg gem. Tango has been replaced with =
Ramaze&Sequel&(mumble). "Mumble" was originally HAML, but in the end I =
just scrapped the entire idea of using a templating engine because I =
couldn't stand the limitations, so now (mumble) is some custom code I =
wrote for myself.=20

I don't think this relates to your problem, but just to give you an =
example of what can go wrong: I already had a working PostgreSQL server =
to connect with, but when I tried to install the 'pg' gem so that Ruby =
could communicate with it, the gem refused to compile because it needed =
to link with some Postgres library files. Well, I *had* a local copy of =
Postgres. So I patiently explained to the gem where it *ought* to be =
looking.=20

Once it had installed, then I tried to use it. No joy there: it was =
completely broken. It took me about three days to finally fix the =
problem. I'd installed Postgres under Mac OSX 10.4, but now I was =
running 10.6, and Apple introduced huge quantities of 64-bit code with =
10.6. The pg gem had been entirely uninterested in installing itself as =
a 'universal' build, and since it was trying to be 64-bit only, it was =
unable to link to the libraries. When I 'fixed' it, which meant making =
it build as a 32-bit app, then all my OTHER gems were broken, since I =
was now trying to mix different architectures. I eventually managed to =
get Postgres correctly rebuilt in a true multi-architecture format, but =
I wrote at least three email messages far angrier than yours sounded. (I =
just didn't actually send them to anybody. {chuckle})

I then spent yet another whole day trying to get Rails to work. I'd =
heard such glowing praise for Rails that it took me that long to realize =
that it was utterly unsuitable for my web app. This roadblock of mine =
might apply to you as well. I had a very clear idea of what I expected =
DB<->web middleware to do, and Rails just plain didn't do it. I spent =
more time figuring out what the current buzzwords were that matched the =
behavior I wanted, pulling down and installing alternatives, and seeing =
if they worked more like I expected they ought. I looked at IOWA, =
SeaSide, Sinatra, Ramaze, and Padrino, among others. I looked at Sequel, =
ActiveRecord, and at least two other ORMs (after figuring out what the =
heck an ORM was in the first place and why I would care).=20

If somebody is young, and doesn't really have a strong background in =
developing for the web, and also doesn't have any kind of pre-existing =
requirements, then there's a fairly good chance that the Ruby-based =
tools will dazzle them. One of the buzzwords that really threw me for a =
while was "legacy." I needed to find an ORM that had strong support for =
legacy databases. Mind you, I am developing a brand-new application, and =
I can create any sort of schema in my database that I want, which is why =
it took me so long to figure out that "legacy" was an important buzzword =
for me. Because the apps I'm building are all about the data.=20

The usual example included with many of these new tools is a =
quick-and-easy blogging site of some kind. Blogs have super-simple data =
structures. My apps have industrial-strength data structures, and there =
is not a single ORM out there that can handle them. (By declaring my db =
schema read-only, I've been able to extend Sequel enough to get the job =
done.)=20

It sounds like Windows7 is serving the same function for you that my =
data structures did for me. It is possible to get everything running on =
W7, I'm sure, but as others have already suggested, it's much more =
problem-prone than the alternatives, so you have to ignore all the =
chirpy happy voices all over the web that promise you can have a web app =
go from concept to launch in a weekend. That happens only under ideal =
circumstances, and one of the requirements is a lack of pre-conceived =
notions, which I think you, like myself, have.=20

"How much non-billable time does a person have to spend on this stuff?" =
I think, all told, I've had to spend about two weeks. I'm still not =
sure, because I've still got one or two really exasperating malfunctions =
that I haven't fixed. Either I have to make Ramaze quit playing around =
with this stupid Mongrel gizmo and hook directly into Apache, so I can =
put muliple websites on the same (*$*)%&@#@ port, by which I mean, port =
EIGHTY!, or Mongrel (or Ramaze, or Innate, or maybe WeBrick, I really =
haven't a clue whose fault this is) has to quit f**king up my redirect =
URLs by sticking :7000 at the end, which contaminates the proxy/reverse =
proxy URL rewrites and causes the redirect to fail. Grrrrrrr!=20

However, with all that being said, I definitely feel that I'm going to =
save more than two weeks of programming time in the long run. (Whether I =
can sneak the savings into a billable form is another matter.) I can now =
create and edit web pages that contain forms for editing data from my =
database with great ease, even when the form contains multiple rows of =
data that are connected to the main table data via a many-to-many =
linking table, all of which have to be editable on the same form and =
written back to the database. Even though I've had to  write my own code =
to do some of the functions that used to be handled by my old middleware =
tools, I still expect the total amount of code I'll have to write to be =
about half of what it would have been with the old tool.=20

In short, yea, at least for me, it was definitely worth it, even though =
the amount of time it took to get the tools actually operational was =
far, far longer than I'd been led to believe.=20

By the way, I did eventually post a message not unlike your first one, =
and I also got back a lot of useful suggestions and advice despite the =
fact that I probably should have gotten kicked in the shins instead. =
{grin} I would suggest you might want to try what in the end really =
worked for me: Describe what you want to DO, not which tools you've =
tried to get to work, and let people suggest potential tools for you to =
consider. (There are, for example, at least three different Ruby-to-
Postgres libraries, one of which is extinct, but not obviously so. It =
sounds like one of the MySQL gems is similar.) There might be an =
all-in-one installer available, or somebody might describe some simple =
virtualization scheme that you could use to get something up and running =
well enough to evaluate it. If you like it, then recreating it under =
Windows7 might be easier, since you'd at least know how it was supposed =
to look if it's working correctly.=20

Tap the hive mind, and save yourself a lot of frustration. Because I =
absolutely concur that there's a LOT of frustration lying in wait for =
the unsuspecting developer.=20