Ruby on Rails upgrade planned this week

Ruby on Rails 2.1, a planned upgrade to the popular open-source Web framework, could be released as soon as this weekend, the creator of the framework, David Heinemeier Hansson, said.

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Ruby on Rails 2.1, a planned upgrade to the popular open-source Web framework, could be released as soon as this weekend, the creator of the framework, David Heinemeier Hansson, said.

Highlights of the release including caching improvements, capabilities to establish time zones in applications, and extending the platform via Gems dependencies.

The goal is to release the upgrade by the end of the RailsConf conference, which is being held in the US from Thursday to Sunday. "We're just aiming for it," Hansson said.

With version 2.1 of Rails, which is currently in a release candidate state, caching support is to be beefed up, including closer integration with the Memcache platform.

"Caching is just important in general because it means that things you can cache you don't have to compute," Hansson said.

Another improvement focuses on the Gems dependencies enabled in the Ruby language that forms the basis of Ruby on Rails.

With RubyGems, developers can bundle improvements to the language in a piece of software called a Gem. But sometimes applications are installed on a new machine that lacks the right version of the library to handle the Gem capabilities. Version
2.1 fixes this.

"We've now codified this by making it possible to say, 'My application depends on these Gems,' " Hansson said. For example, a developer could stipulate that an application depends on a Gem featuring capabilities for the OpenID identity system, he said.

Setting of time zones in applications is another improvement area in Rails 2.1. Accommodations are to be made to deal with this problem, which has been accentuated by Web applications being used by people all over the world in multiple time zones, Hansson said.

Rails 2.1 also will feature many small tweaks. Hansson attributes the polishing of Rails in this way to its open-source development process, which enables many developers to examine and have input into the platform.

Hansson acknowledged Rails has been criticised for lack of scalability but insisted this is a criticism that has been levied against all new platforms. When C and Java came around, people said they were too slow in relation to previous platforms, such as assembly language, he said. "Now it's Ruby on Rails's turn," Hansson said.

"We've been using Ruby on Rails for five years. Tons of organisations are scaling it massively to billions of page views," said Hansson. While some Rails sites may have scalability problems, that is not necessarily the fault of Rails, he said.

"Scaling is a matter of architecture," not frameworks and programming languages, Hansson said.

The most recent major upgrade to Ruby on Rails was version 2.0, which was released in December and featured REST (Representational State Transfer) Web services and security enhancements.

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