After figuring out Javascript I felt the urge to take another step. Usually when I tried to program stuff I was filled with resentment afterwards because certain things didn’t work as I had envisioned them and usually it was more like fighting than playing with the languages I chose. With Javascript is was the other way around, it was actually a lot of fun but still I was missing something since it is more like a front end / interface language than a language for writing the back end logic. In my favicon example I was using Perl for the database queries and the http checks on the submitted URLs but that was only because I didn’t know any other programming language for these kind of tasks. Ever since I swore to myself to stay away from PHP. Although PHP is not necessarily insecure I didn’t like it the minute I saw it. That left a big question mark in my head until ruby on rails appeared out of nothing in July 2004. The first videos that showed the features of rails could be found everywhere in the web. Everyone was curious, including myself. I played around with the early rails but my programming skills were a lot worse than they are now so I didn’t really know what I was doing and stopped doing it shortly after.

A couple of days ago I asked myself which language I would choose to be able to program my own back ends. I had the answer already in my mind, I knew that rails was really the only choice for me. I’m not a very good programmer, in fact I’m a design student but I’m driven by the thought to learn as much as I can until I get too old for this.

When I made websites I used dreamweaver first, later I wrote the HTML myself because dreamweaver wouldn’t fit my quality and feature requirements. Now sometimes customers want to be able to manage their own content, so I’m giving them a Content Management System. But it is the same thing, all of the CMS systems have a lot of features but in most of the cases they are just not the right ones for the current case. So I thought a lot of times »One of these days, I’m gonna write my own CMS«. I also thought that I would do it with rails, simply because there wasn’t any other webframework out there which promised the easy and elegance of rails. I even considered JSP and PHP for a moment but when I took a closer look on Ruby and Ruby on Rails the decision was easy.

The only thing that bugged my was rubys syntax which is quite different to Javascript, Perl, Python, PHP and a couple of more. It was hard to get used to it but after swallowing down the ruby book in two days it was much more familiar and I even started to like it. I started to read the rails book and some tutorials right afterwards. Then I tried to think of a real life project which I would try to realize with rails. It is a web application for documenting the projects of my art school in a web 2006 way. I started the project three days ago and right now I know for sure that I made the right decision with rails. It is so easy, so light, so elegant. I think I will end up writing more XHTML and CSS than ruby. Well that is probably a little too optimistic but I was amazed to see how fast you can get things rolling. You suddenly have a lot of time to think of content and structure rather than about technical problems or difficulties. Pandur helped me out getting started and I will need his help a couple of more times but once we glued together the first things I could take over the steering wheel. It is fun!

Right now the project runs on localhost only because I was lazy and downloaded Locomotive for Mac OS X which gave me everything I needed. But since I’m also using SVN now I will check out the project on my server too. I let you know so you can follow its progress. So the next posts will be about my trip on rails. Meanwhile I will also post about my current project at UdK but I guess it will get its own website anyway.

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