Rubinius: Past, Present and Future

As part of the continuous process of guiding Engine Yard’s future, we must make certain that we’re allocating resources properly in the near term so that our longer term projects can continue on to fruition.

A few weeks ago at RubyConf 2008, Koichi Sasada, the lead developer of Ruby 1.9 (also known as YARV) did Rubinius the honor of projecting that Rubinius would eventually be the Ruby interpreter of choice. We agree – however, we also agree that it will take a while to get there.

So today we made a substantial change in the Rubinius team sponsored by Engine Yard and reduced the team to two members from its previous six. This was a hard decision to make, but it is clear that it’s a good choice. We must fund Rubinius in a rational way that allows us to continue funding it to completion.

By funding Rubinius for almost two years now, including heavy funding in 2008, we helped it get from a good idea to something substantial and real.

The RubySpec suite is now a separate project and is being used by Gemstone, Sun, and Microsoft in their own Ruby implementations. Tens of thousands of software executable tests were developed during this time that specify what Ruby is, exactly: something that had never been expressed before outside of MRI itself and Dave Thomas’ outstanding book. This is very good, because it means that Ruby, the language, will not differ substantially from platform to platform.

Rubinius moved toward Ruby completeness to the point where it ran Rails, the RubyGems system, and other significant software projects such as Merb at RailsConf 2008. Since that major milestone they rewrote the VM in C++, refactoring and testing along the way, so that Rubinius is now on a firm architectural base.

Finally, we’re delighted to be working with Gemstone to refactor the Rubinius kernel (the part written in Ruby), to allow using it as a shared component between Rubinius and their MagLev runtime.

Engine Yard remains 100% behind Rubinius, and congratulate the team for their phenomenal results to date.