Wayne E. Seguin
I recently installed Windows on a VM in order to get a baseline generated Rails application running. I have had no real Windows experience since the days of Windows 98. As such, I approached the problem the same as anyone who was new to developing Rails on Windows would, I googled it! Keep in mind that I am by no means a Ruby and Rails beginner; I know what every piece of the stack is, how it works and how to utilize it. After following the first three search results with lots of confusion, I finally pieced everything together. It still took a full 90 minutes to go from a fresh Windows install to a generated Rails application running using search result directions. Does it always take 90 minutes? No. Once you know what to do it only takes 10 or 15 minutes to set everything up. Setup should not take even that long the first time!!!
My personal RVM goals have always been to create an environment manager, which enables developers to install and manage all of their Ruby/Rails environments with minimal effort. Even though it is not my preferred platform, I cannot sit idly by and allow my fellow developers to experience unnecessary pain in their workflows and environments! I am thus applying my fundamental RVM goals to developing Ruby/Rails on Windows.
Wait, what? Windows? Really? Why? The above-mentioned experience aside, let us think about this briefly. As of December 27, 2010 Rails has had a total download count of 2,316,209 on rubygems.org. This is an impressive number! That said, if we look at the number of downloads of the 'Instant Rails' project on RubyForge.org we see the number there is 5,173,159. These are the download counts for InstantRails alone, excluding anyone who used the RubyInstaller as a base and then installed the Rails stack.
I believe that if we can simplify and streamline the process for bootstrapping a complete Rails development environment up and running on Windows, then we can attract a great number of new developers. I also believe that currently the vast majority are turned away due to this bad initial experience. As our community grows, a small percentage of this large number of people will decide to get involved in the community and contribute back. This has a massive benefit for our unique and awesome community. The larger our community, the more help we have, and the more we can collectively smooth over any rough edges that exist!
I have rejoined Engine Yard in order to help grow our awesome community (I completed a tour of duty at the 'Yard from January 1, 2008 through July 31, 2009). I am now working at Engine Yard with Dr. Nic on Open Source initiatives. This will enable me to pursue my passion of ensuring that developing Ruby & Rails applications is enjoyable with as few impediments as possible!
Will this be my only focus at Engine Yard? Absolutely not! This is but the first project of many to help our community grow and prosper. And for those that are wondering, yes, my employment at Engine Yard will be giving me the freedom to continue helping you all out in #rvm on irc.freenode.net!
And now to tell you the first part of the plan... wait... it is family time, I will fill you in on another post!