The Rails Blues

Rails is a great framework for developing websites, and Ruby is a great programming language to work in. We love them both very much, and if I had my way, I’d probably build all our websites using Ruby on Rails.

However, there is one serious issue. It’s called hosting. It’s the important stuff that your website does most of the time. And Rails has some really big problems there. In fact, they’ve been with Rails all along.

We host a number of sites, built with this framework, for ourselves and our clients. And those sites are possibly the biggest source of stress and headaches in my job. That’s not a good thing. I like to enjoy my work.

Take Gone Raw for example. Myself and another very talented individual moved this site to a Joyent Accelerator several months ago. Why? Because it kept going down. The website would just stop working, and we had to manually restart it. And guess what? It does that more than ever on the new fancy Accelerator! And the only way I can get it to start working again, thus far, is manually restarting that server.

That is ridiculous. That is laughable.

Today, a client’s site started mysteriously showing errors all over the place. I thought this was what PHP did! Nope, it happens with Rails, too. We launched another personal project last month, also in Rails, and it has problems staying up as well. In fact, not a single Rails site that we host is able to stay up by itself. Every single one requires some sort of elaborate hack to keep it going. It wouldn’t be so bad, except that a PHP site requires absolutely none of this funky business.

I am starting to suspect that you can’t really be 100% confident in hosting Rails sites unless you have a full-time staffer making sure they stay up. And that’s just not in the cards for a tiny business like ours. So we’re evaluating our other options, such a subcontracting someone for the job.

However, we’ll certainly be thinking twice before deploying our next Rails-based site!

Raymond Brigleb

Creative Director, dreamer, partner, father, musician, photographer. Has been known to ride the rails. Pulls one heck of a shot.