NFJS Austin, and Rails

So I’m in the Austin area this weekend, for yet another NFJS show, except this time I actually had time in the schedule to attend the Friday night talks. (Normally I’m too busy traveling to be here on Friday–I typically need the Friday night timeframe to actually get here, which probably explains why my Saturday morning talks are always a crap shoot.)

Part of my reason for wanting to be here early was a desire to see more of Dave Thomas’ talks, and in particular, I wanted to get more of the Ruby and Rails Religion that seems to be infesting… er, maybe I should say “spreading like wildfire” instead… my friends in the speaker crowd. I mean, normally they’re a pretty sane and sensible bunch, and if these guys are all drinking deeply of the Ruby and Rails Kool-Ade, I want to take a hit from the bong as well and see if it’s a good trip, or just a trip.

So I sat through Dave’s Rails presentation, and as he was finishing up, I felt strangely disappointed–not so much that Rails isn’t a cool little framework, but that there really wasn’t anything more there. I mean, I see a bunch of intelligent code-generation and some common-sense defaults, but other than that it’s strangely reminiscent of the servlet scene circa 1997–even to the point where Rails will reload modified scripts on-the-fly for you. Hell, if the servlet containers had been smart enough (or crazy enough, depending on your viewpoint) to do the servlet compilation for you on the fly (memory leaks in javac notwithstanding), it would be very much like what we have right now with Rails.

And yet, we didn’t stay there in the servlet community once we had that kind of functionality. We found a greater need for configuration, more flexible and powerful execution models, and so on. In essence, as web apps got more complicated, the servlet/JSP space got more complex to match it. “With power, comes complexity; with complexity, comes power.” I wonder if Rails will eventually find that same need, or is it always going to target the easiest/easier x% of webapps and leave the harder stuff alone?

In the meantime, am I missing something from Rails? Is there any movement afoot to create a JavaRails (“Jails”? Ew.) project that I’m not aware of? (Come to think of it, in the .NET space too, while we’re at it? “Nails”, anybody? :-) )