At the opening keynote here at RailsConf in Chicago Dave Thomas (of Pragmatic Programmer fame) presented three problems for the Rails community to solve. His idea was that these would help Rails become more popular in organizations. I would like to add two more: a SOAP library and an improved MSSQL-server driver.

Judging from the amount of Microsoft-bashing going on here I would venture to guess that these aren’t on the top of the list for most Rails developers. However, I believe they would make it a lot easier to implement Rails applications in the corporate world and increase the Rails adoption rate.

  1. A SOAP library that at least can consume other SOAP services (including bastardized interfaces returning .net datasets) would ease the adoption of Rails in internal CRUD applications. Rails isn’t alone in the world and while it is easy to say that other people’s SOAP interfaces are crap the reality is that they are there and there is little you can do about it. Changing existing web service interfaces is a tricky task as it may invlove a lot of other applications.
  2. The MSSQL driver is necessary to remove another obstacle in the decision process of selecting Rails. Most companies standardize on their production server platforms. This means they will typically have a cluster with a specific database engine somewhere which other applications share. Brian Hogan has done some excellent work in showing how Rails can be deployed in a Windows Server environment. From what I hear the current incarnation of the MSSQL-server driver for Ruby isn’t up to par with the rest of the pack.

I believe that being able to deploy Rails in your existing Microsoft environment using MSSQL-server would make it easier for managers to give a go ahead for Rails projects.