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Web 2.0 frameworks – fundamental or fluff?

Over at Port 80, we recently added a Ruby on Rails forum. This was met with both excitement and doubt from forum members. There were those that were excited about a new framework that promises to reduce development time by taking the tedium out of development. There were those who were doubtful about a system that has had a lot of hype, but hasn’t had the market infiltration to match it. Many people think that anyting that rises so quickly will only fall just as quickly. Will this happen to rails? No idea – only time can give us the answer.

However, I think there is an underlying factor here that has been over looked. The idea of frameworks designed specifically to speed up web development is what we should be getting excited about.

Web development, and to a degree, software development has changed. Customers are more than ever expecting cheap software that is good. It doesn’t make sense for us as developers to waste our precious time re-implementing the same parts of a system for different jobs. Introduction of frameworks that do this simply can only be a good thing.

One hurdle for many professional coders is the lead-time required for learning a new framework. Be the very definition, frameworks expect the coder to do things in a certain way. This may put many coders off, because they have to spend time learning, not coding and this costs money. What they may not realise, though, is that every hour they spend re-coding form validators instead of learning a framework that does it for them, adds up over time.

The old adage of work smarter not harder is extremely relevent here. There will never be more hours in a day. Trying to use all of them is impossible. Trying to improve productivity with out changes in thinking won’t work. We as web programmers know how this web thing works. The designers of these frameworks know how this web thing works. We really should be working together to work smarter.

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