Plowing away

Recently I was looking at some PHP code; it’s the kind of PHP code I wrote back when I first learned PHP. The newer code is a bit better; functions instead of the usual copy and paste.

I was talking to a coworker about the code quality and he made the remark that one of the nice things about PHP is that it has a low learning curve; a low entry barrier. That it’s a language where you don’t need to learn a lot and be quickly productive writing web applications. To paraphrase, “after you learn a little bit you can just put your head down and start plowing away.”

His comment gave me a flash of insight and I realized that that’s what Rails programmers really love about Rails; there isn’t that large investment of time, like there is with Java, before you can start plowing away. The real insight was that its ability to make you quickly productive is its core appeal to Rails programmers. Not that it uses dynamic or run time type checking. Not that it doesn’t use XML to configure stuff. The core, fundamental appeal of Rails is that you don’t need to invest a lot of time learning stuff before you’re productive with it.

I also realized that this ties in with why Rails programmers tout as an advantage that Rails has only one database ORM, Active Record. With Rails, no need to “waste” a lot of time investigating the available ORM options like you’d do with Java.

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