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How did you get Rails through the door where you work?
How did you get Rails through the door where you work?

Put Ruby and Ruby on Rails books on everyone's desks!

We have Ruby on Rails books on at least 30 desks here. Although, our clients still demand Java, so we're quite slow in getting our client base adopted on RoR.

Kevin Elliott "WeLikeFood Beta":http://www.welikefood.com Great restaurants. Great reviews.

Our CIO helped develop our many of our applications, and it was a simple matter of trying Rails first on a small, domain-specific prototype to show how much better it was compared to the way we were doing things at the time. Also, I am the technical lead of our team, so getting the rest of the team to embrace Rails was done through a series of short trainings and a lot of "Check out how cool this is, we cannot do that with our current framework" intermissions.

For me it was a combination of stealth and having some clout. I built a quick demo app to show how we could port part of our legacy (client-server) app to Rails and the productivity sold the framework.

Here I have lots of different responsabilities: I analyse the problem, I choose the right technology to solve it and I present all that to my manager. Then I implement and test it, put into production and them mantain the whole thing. So I can say that I have some liberty on choosing my tools. I love Ruby and saw that I could use Ruby and Rails here for a lot of things, so gradually I started to develop some new things using Rails. It was good, because I could learn it with real projects, the learning proccess was quicker.

I'm a freelancer and have been able to pursuade a two clients to go rails simply on cost alone. One client was a microsoft-shop technical college, we installed four separate apps each as a windows service running mongrel. As internal intranet apps the fact that each had its own port number wasn't an issue for them.

The other was a client with high expectations but not a lot of time and money. I explained that Rails was their only option given time budget and built quite a complex project management tool with lots of Ajax. I quite impressed myswlf on that one.

I'm based in London, England. I'd really like to contribute to the Rails Community but by raising awareness and making it more known and understood by business. Anyone else had any experience of this ?


A company not far from where I work, Mission Data, did something like this for Ruby (and by extension, Rails), back in '06. They did a presentation called "You'll Be Seeing Ruby," and posted about it at http://www.missiondata.com/blog/presentation-youll-be-seeing-ruby/. It might give you some ideas about how to get the local business community interested.

Thanks Ernie, what I'm really hoping to do is put together a presentation that addresses non-IT people which tells budget holders just how much money they're likely to save and project managers just how quick things will get built and just how happy their end-users will be.

I used to be a civil engineer and am pretty used to doing this kind of public PR work for past employers, I suspect that this is how I can contribute most effectively to the community.

If I'm honest, one of the big challenges in London is that many firms don't have high expectations of their IT departments so there are a lot of people living in a very comfortable zone and there's no imperative to change that. I think the thrust will be something along the lines of 'you can expect your IT department to do the kind of things you'd like it to do'.

What would be useful is some basic metrics that underpin the rails advantage, simple stuff like x many companies believed rails saved them y amount of time or z amount in cost or perceived improvement in user satisfaction. Anyone know of a good place to find this ? If not I'm happy to run such a survey and publish the results openly for us all to use.

With the economic downturn then there are some strong arguments for choosing rails, it would just be nice to be able to put numbers against it for the decision-makers/bean-counters.

Rails will be a very hard sell if you approach it in the usual top-down enterprise sales mentality. It's sometimes easier to arrange to demo the tech for the techies in an organization, and let them do their own evangelism.

If you're looking to sell the Rails to the enterprise in a top-down manner, though, you might have a bit of luck by selling Agile development methodologies in general, which Rails excels at. You might even toss a few copies of "Getting Real":http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ in the laps of a few key decision makers. It's a quick, enjoyable, and energizing read, and might shake things up a bit if management reads it with an open mind.

As you know, Rails is opinionated software. Remember: when you're attempting to sell something opinionated, the first step is to convince the buyer that they share the opinion. Then they sell themselves.

Thanks Ernie that's really helping me to crystalize my thinking. I take your point about top-down selling but it can't be any harder than getting IT people to consider something different to what they know. The only rails apps I've managed to deploy into a large and established IT environment have been to a cash-strapped Microsoft shop where the bottom line was just so attractive that the management couldn't say no. We had to overcome initial hostility from IT support but by that time the management were very keen to see it work, and it did.

I'm thinking that gathering statistics will remove any sense of evangelism.

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