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As I noted yesterday, Dr. Wayne Kelly, the leader of Ruby.NET project, attended the 2008 Lang.NET Symposium last week led a discussion of how he wrapped Ruby, a dynamic language, on top of the static CLI.  Of note of course in that speech was how hard certain things are with Ruby due to the lack of a formal specification.

Anyhow, fast forward to yesterday.  Wayne announced in a post yesterday about the future of Ruby.NET.  I encourage you to read the whole thing here.

He writes:

Ruby.NET started life in 2005 as an academic research project with the goals of learning more about the challenges of mapping a dynamic language such as Ruby onto the relatively static CLI platform. When we released our first beta in 2006, many people got excited and started blogging about the project, at which time the project took on a life of its own heading towards a production quality release that people could one day actually use. The release of IronRuby last year obviously caused us to question this unstated goal. At the time we didn't know if the IronRuby project and the DLR would succeed, so we decided to continue with Ruby.NET at that stage. Last week at the Lang.NET Symposium, I presented our work on the Ruby.NET project and also had the opportunity to learn more about the progress of the IronRuby project and the inner workings of the DLR (and also the JRuby project presented by Charles Nutter).

I've come to the conclusion that the DLR is clearly here to stay - it's becoming an even more important part of the Microsoft platform. I also believe that to obtain production quality performance, Ruby.NET would need to reinvent (or adopt) something equivalent to the DLR. If we were starting the project today, there is no way we wouldn't use the DLR. Whilst Ruby.NET initially had a good head start on the IronRuby project; by incorporating the Ruby.NET parser and scanner and by leveraging the DLR, I now believe that IronRuby is more likely to succeed as a production quality implementation of Ruby on the .NET platform. I believe that ultimately there is no need for two different implementations of Ruby on .NET. So, if Ruby.NET is ultimately not going to be that implementation, then we should not waste further developer effort fruitlessly chasing that goal. There is still a massive amount `of work required to achieve full semantic compatibility, to achieve production quality performance and to get Rails to run robustly.

There have already been a number of practical and research outcomes from the Ruby.NET project, however, at this stage, I believe we (the Ruby.NET community) can make the biggest impact by levering our experiences with Ruby.NET to contribute to the IronRuby and DLR projects. Personally, I still feel we have unfinished business - we set our selves the goal of running Rails on .NET and we haven't achieved that yet. If we can leverage our experience to help IronRuby get to that point, then I'd at least have the personal satisfaction of helping see the job completed.

These are just my views. As a researcher, my prime interest is not in developing products, but in developing innovative new ideas and having an impact by having those ideas used in the real world. I'm aware that others in the community will have different goals and so will presumably have a different take on this - I'm keen to hear what you think. If anyone wants to press ahead, then the code base is still owned and controlled by you the community, so you are free to do with it as you please with our full blessing.

I'd also like to make it very clear that this decision is entirely my own - based on research and technical considerations. Microsoft did not in any way suggest or encourage us to kill the project and we thank them again for their support of the project.

I'd like to thank all of our contributors and supporters and apologize if this decision comes as a disappointment. I hope many of you will join me in contributing to the IronRuby project and see it through to a successful completion.

Cheers, Wayne.

So, what he's saying in other words is that it's best that he takes the lessons learned from the Ruby.NET implementation on the static typed CLI and contribute more towards IronRuby on top of the DLR instead.  I don't think that's going to dissuade anyone, and may preclude him, but I think others are willing and able to pick up the torch.  So far, my experience with the project had been good, although not as complete as I'd like.  But many of those problems come from the lack of a spec instead of anything squirrely done inside the code itself.

John Lam has posted his reaction here on his blog.  The invitation is out to anyone to join and contribute to the IronRuby implementation.  So, all eyes turn towards the IronRuby team and anyone willing to step up to the plate...

kick it on DotNetKicks.com Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2008 5:01 PM .NET , Ruby | Back to top


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