As a developer/web author (with a database background) for a local, well-established web development firm (The Complete Website), we have recently been presented with a number of potential client opportunities involving what we used to call "data-driven" websites, more commonly referred to now as "content-management" webs. In any event, a website requiring a "data store" or database engine.
Having looked at the several approaches in prevalent use today, we knew we wanted a scripting language compatible with (or facilitating the use of) MySQL as the database engine, and one that could be developed on a Windows platform. There were several possibilities: Java, PERL, pHP, ASP, and so forth. But then came news of a new approach: Ruby on Rails. A full-featured programming language with a built-in development platform (Rails) that can be linked to practically any SQL server, including the open-source MySQL Database Server product, and can be implemented on a Windows platform! Or Mac. Or Linux.
The language/approach is advanced. That's a given. But once learned--because does so much of the initial setup/configuration is already done by Rails--it appears that app development will be equipped with afterburners (or rails, anyway). Configuration will be minimized; database access will be accomplished by appropriately named, one-word method calls (functions) that the uninitiated can almost understand. Because of its brevity, debug time will be minimized. And (it occurs to me), once you've built your first ROR app--except for your database schema--you've got a ready-to-go template, ready for your next app...!
As we see it, then, we trade some learning curve time for later savings in development time. Short-term investment for long-term savings.
Having already attended an all-day "sneak-preview", you couldn't ask for a better instructor than Brian Hughes. He is awesomely knowledgeable, having programmed for 25 years, but patient with every question. Articulate as they come and absolutely at home and unflappable behind the podium. The visual aids could not be better, either, as the instructor's monitor is projected onto a huge screen (the entire classroom comes equipped with powerful Macs). The support from Pat Langille, seminar coordinator--answering email questions--is world-class (Brian will answer email questions about course material, as well). Even her sandwiches are delicious! The classroom is cool, comfortable with plenty of room. It's an absolute pleasure to sit in these air-conditioned seminars and soak up knowledge that could well become the near-term wave of the future in terms of data-driven, content-management web development.
For me, and for the entire team at The Complete Website, the risk of time and money (and ensuing learning curve) to attend this local event and commit to this direction, was and is a no-brainer.
P.S. No, I was not paid to write this endorsement. I am just truly enthusiastic about the opportunity!