Constraints can lead to greater freedom

LJ: Ruby on Rails is a framework for Web application development that promises–and delivers–a powerful, productive and fun platform for building dynamic Web sites. A framework can be thought of as a library– a collection of functions for your application to use–but it’s also more than that, it’s a system of constraints for your code. Why would constraints be a good thing? Because by embracing constraints for a specific purpose, you actually enable creativity by focusing energy on the problem at hand.

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Ruby

.Linux Journal: Opinions on Opinionated Software

DH: Ruby is, more than anything else, a language for writing beautiful code that make programmers happy.

Rails, then, is an attempt to mold the beauty and productiveness of Ruby into a solution for Web applications. We’ve sought to adhere to the same core principle that guided the development of Ruby: make the programmer happy!

This might all sound mighty fluffy, but only until you recognize that the single-most important factor in programmer productivity is motivation. And, happy programmers are certainly motivated programmers. Thus, if you optimize for happiness, you’re optimizing for motivation, which ultimately leads to an optimization for productivity.

LJ: What is Rails? Why was it developed?

DH: Rails is an extraction from a solution to a real problem. It’s not a science project. It’s not something clever men sat down and designed in the highest of ivory towers. It’s simply the generic pieces that were left after I tried to use Ruby to create Basecamp– the Web-based project management system from 37singals.

That means it’s a very pragmatic, very targeted framework with a strong sense of direction. You might not share its vision, but it undeniably has one. I like to call that opinionated software. And Rails sure has a lot of opinions.

From one point of view, it could be said to be the collection of opinions I have about how Web applications should be constructed. Surely you can use Ruby on Rails without sharing all my opinions on how to create Web applications, but the more opinions you share, the less work is put upon you.

And, these opinions are surprisingly simple. Thay aim to give most people most of what they want, most of the time. It’s a strong disagreement with the conventional wisdom that everything should be configurable, that the framework should be impartial and objective. In my mind, that’s the same as saying that everything should be equally hard.