For 10 years I’ve been writing basically nothing but Java code, and for the most part Java tools. Looking at the hype around Ruby/Rails, Groovy, Python, and other dynamic scripting languages, I just turned up my nose and looked away. OOP snob? Er… uh… um… yes. Sorry, I can’t deny it. But just a few weeks spent on the “other side” changed everything for me.

A project at work forced me to learn Ruby on Rails. Note that first I had to learn Ruby, then I could make some progress with Rails. I wonder how many thousands of developers have done the same thing—learn a language and a framework at basically the same time. Thankfully, if you know Java, learning Ruby is actually quite easy. Which begs another question: how many Java developers are now picking up Ruby, because of Rails?

So what else has changed, you might ask? Well, the Java debugger that I created and maintained for eight years has migrated entirely to SourceForge for posterity. Meanwhile, this web site has been transformed by means of Radiant CMS and Typo. But that’s not much, you say? Well, how about authoring a few Rails applications to keep myself busy, now that I’m not writing Java code. Okay, I haven’t actually started writing them yet, but I’ve got at least four that I want to create and release as open-source.

Aside from writing code, just keeping up with the fast moving Ruby/Rails community is a full-time job in itself. There’s almost a million technologies and terms to learn, or at least it feels that way: DRY. REST, database migrations, RSpec, domain-specific languages, mongrel, capistrano, MySQL, agile development, and so on. It’ll be a miracle if I ever start writing code.

I suppose that’s it, in a nutshell. A long-time Java guy that has left the valley of Java tools and started to explore the world on the other side of the hill. I have to admit, it was a little scary, and I was initially hesitant, but it is so much more exciting when you get out and see new horizons.

Thanks Matz. Thanks David. Thanks Sun, for leading me away from Java. I needed the fresh air.