Ruby on Rails and Merb Merge!

The Merb/Rails rivalry could’ve gone as depicted on the cover of the science fiction “classic” shown below…



(I think Merb would be the Human Bat and Rails would be the Robot Gangster.)

…but instead, the two projects have merged! The result will be the upcoming Rails 3.

The merger is commemorated on a “plaque” page on the Rails site titled The Day Merb Joined Rails, which I’ve excerpted below:

Merb was started two years ago by Ezra Zygmuntowicz as a tiny framework to serve ERb templates from Mongrel. This quickly grew into much more and carved out a niche as an alternative Rails stack. Merbists focused on among other things a small speedy core, being ORM/JavaScript agnostic, and having a rigorous API for extensions.

Along with the expansion in ambition came the fact that Merb and Rails started sharing more and more of the same ideas and even implementation. This lead to a fair amount of unnecessary duplication on both sides of the fence and lead to some paradox of choice. When do I choose one over the other and when?

Rails 3

On December 23rd, we decided to end the duplication and the paradox of choice. That was the day we declared our intentions of bringing the best ideas of Merb into Rails 3. That was the day we announced our commitment to work together.

It’s nice to see this sort of thing happening. It’s more common to see projects forking over the tiniest disagreements, a la “The People’s Front of Judea” in Monty Python’s Life of Brian:

It’s a win for both projects, as well as the users. Rails gets some much-needed optimization, the ability to shed excess weight for speed, framework agnosticism and an API that won’t break with upgrades, and Merb gets a much bigger development community and mindshare momentum that Rails enjoys. Better still, the merger now has both teams’ big brains working on the same project, and isn’t that what the spirit of the DRY principle is all about?

Congratulations to both the Merb and Rails teams! And hey, congrats to all you Ruby/Rails/Merb developers out there too! 2009 just got a little more interesting for all of us.