DHH and Fowler on RIA

Scott Hanselman caught up with DHH and Martin Fowler at railsconf and started a discussion on RIA and where it fits into web applications. I believe in my previous article I was a little more open minded about the topic, but these two bring up some very interesting and valid points.

DHH and Fowler believe that HTML needs some work, but to give a blank canvas is a bad idea. By blank canvas they are referring to giving a developer an environment where they constantly have to reinvent the proverbial wheel, for instance a text box. In HTML it is coded and interpreted the same way across the board. So not only does the developer not need to develop a text box, the end user also gets a uniform experience when he interacts with a text box across multiple web sites.

DHH then goes on to discuss how constraints are a good thing. He brings up Rails and how it encourages developers to conform to good practices. Fowler agreed, that new developers aren’t required to follow the Rails conventions, but the code does not smell right if you don’t. They contrast this against environments like Flash, and Silverlight, where the community is still very immature, and these constraints don’t yet exist. To take it a step farther, they do not even have uniform inputs to interact with the user, whereas HTML has this out of the box. It didn’t seem like they thought it would always be this way, but they are committed to the open HTML standard. Being at an Adobe shop myself I believe that until recently Flash has been focussed on visual candy and with the introduction of Flex they are starting to spend time on the application development side of programming.

Somehow this got into a discussion on how the Rails community seems strongly anti-Microsoft. This was an interesting discussion, and even the topic of JRuby came up. Neither DHH or Fowler seemed against the mean evil Sun corporation merging with Rails because they have a less-evil track record than Microsoft when it comes to the open-source community.

Even though the title was a little misleading because RIA was only the first 15 minutes of the Podcast, it was a good listen. I mean how could listening to a Dane, and an Englishman explain anything go wrong.

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