RailsConf – Bank Job

For the first concurrent session of the Friday I went to this somewhat controversial talk by Rany Keddo, entitled “How I turned my bank job into a Rails playground”. Many in the room (including me) put up their hands when he asked who knew about working on J2EE projects, and how large and ‘unhappy’ they have got.

Most of his talk was his story from the bank where he works. He had a small and non-critical project that needed to be delivered quickly, so decided Rails would be a good way to develop it. To mitigate risk he was able to claim that he could use RJB and JRuby to integrate with the Java world if it got too complicated (though he didn’t have to in the end). He didn’t ask permission to use Rails though, he just started on the project.

One of the benefits of using Rails was that they were able to do lots of quick iterations of the software, working with the business people, so he thought they ended up with a better fit for the business processes than they might have done otherwise.

The problems came when the system had to be deployed. He had tried to reduce the effort for the ‘server ops’ people by writing a ‘one click installer’, but they didn’t like that at all. [I don’t remember him mentioning how this was resolved].

Also the ‘Uber-DBA’ was not happy about the choice of MySQL and the use of migrations. These were resolved by switching to use Oracle, and by making some minor changes to export migration results as a sql script rather than applying them directly to the database.

After the talk several people in the audience commented about similar things they had done (and it made me think of the test server I’ve written at work, which is also similar). There seemed to be a general feeling that where Rails projects had been put in without asking permission, the benefits that came out made them acceptable once they were up and running.

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