“Bring out yer dead!” *clang*

Today, the twitterverse that I follow reminded me of the Monty Python “Bring out yer dead!” skit at the beginning of the quest for the holy grail. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, watch this:

Bring Out Yer Dead! *clang*

The “I’m not dead yet" victim, today, is IronRuby as the majority of the .NET developers I am following on twitter are quick to declare “ironruby is dead”.



A Troubled Future For The DLR And IronRuby

It all started with a blog post from Jimmy Schementi. If you haven’t read this post, go read it now.

Yes, the contents of his post are infuriating. Once again, Microsoft has dropped the ball on what had the potential to be a tremendous advancement in the .NET world: the DLR and the Iron* dynamic languages. Yes, I’m disappointed in what Microsoft is doing, but I’m not surprised. Yes, I’m sad that IronRuby is not getting the kind of love and attention (and funding!) that I think it should be getting. Yes, I want to bitch and moan about it.

Yes, it looks like the future of IronRuby is going to be slow going for a while. But I would hardly say ironruby is dead at this point. More than anything, though, I’m disappointed with the immediate response of the .NET community, as shown in the above screen shot of a twitter search I did.


“I’m Not Dead Yet”

While the .NET community is so quick to jump on the bandwagon of dismissing IronRuby and claiming it’s dead, trying to dump the body on the passing cart, Jimmy and his former coworker that he mentioned are probably wondering why no one is hearing IronRuby say “I’m not dead yet!”

Here’s the the thing, people… I know this may be shocking or unappetizing or whatever… but it’s the obvious point that I’m trying to make in this post:

IronRuby Will Only Die If We Let It Die. It’s Open Source for crying out loud! If you don’t want it to die, CONTRIBUTE!

Now, I do understand that Jimmy’s post was talking about the DLR at large, and not just IronRuby. And yes, it is worrying that the DLR is not getting funding, either.

Honest question here: does IronRuby actually need the DLR? There is an IronRuby v1.0 runtime for .NET 2.0 and .NET 3.5,  and there is still an IronRuby runtime for .NET 3.5 with v1.1 of IronRuby. Does the DLR run on .NET 3.5? I thought it was 4.0 only. If the IronRuby runtime does not require the DLR, then forget the DLR and it’s non-funded status. Work with and contribute to the IronRuby runtime that does not need the DLR.


Do Something About It

I’m going to say this again, because it needs to be repeated: IronRuby Will Only Die If We Let It Die. It’s Open Source for crying out loud! If you don’t want it to die, CONTRIBUTE!

I don’t claim to know how to contribute. I don’t claim to have contributed. I do know that an open source project without any contributors is likely to die long before an open source project with contributors. So stop waiting for the dead body collector to whack IronRuby over the head while it says “I feel happyyyyyy!!!”, and help keep an open source project alive.

About Derick Bailey

Derick Bailey is an entrepreneur, problem solver (and creator? :P ), software developer, screecaster, writer, blogger, speaker and technology leader in central Texas (north of Austin). He runs SignalLeaf.com - the amazingly awesome podcast audio hosting service that everyone should be using, and WatchMeCode.net where he throws down the JavaScript gauntlets to get you up to speed. He has been a professional software developer since the late 90's, and has been writing code since the late 80's. Find me on twitter: @derickbailey, @mutedsolutions, @backbonejsclass Find me on the web: SignalLeaf, WatchMeCode, Kendo UI blog, MarionetteJS, My Github profile, On Google+.
This entry was posted in .NET, Community, DLR, IronRuby, Open Source, Ruby. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
  • Hear! Hear! Even the DLR, while unavailable for contributions to MS has its source available on CodePlex. You are very right. And with the activity on the mailing list, I don’t think IronRuby is dead at all. It’s just not going to see as quick an advance as it was … unless others step up.

  • While I agree Derick, the problem isn’t contributions. It’s leadership. Jimmy was a rallying cry, and knew his stuff inside and out. It was awesome watching him at the ATE table at MIX10.

    To me, that’s the real difference between the MS Open Source, and other OS movements. In MS Open Source, you need a ‘softie to be the leader, to get things done, and to deal with internals. Without that here, then this project is in a lot of trouble.

    Again, it’s not about contribution of code. It’s about contribution of leadership. And I don’t see anyone who will step up to that role. And really, that’s a shame, because IronRuby can do some really great things – and has done some great things.

  • Yes, IronRuby needs the DLR. So does .NET at large.But… the DLR shipped as part of .NET 4.0. It may be the DLR itself (note, I’m talking about the runtime here, not the overall dynamic languages that target it) is simply finished.

    IronRuby itself can continue to be worked on as a language targeting it – even if the DLR doesn’t get continued work, it’ll still be there forever.

    It would have been nice to keep them going, but it”s probably just the realities of corporate finances today – MS took a budget whack across the bow in just about every group, and if you’re not directly bringing in large chunks of cash it’s hard to justify your continued existence at the moment.

    I’m very, very glad the IronRuby team managed to get everything actually out as real open source – that way the language can continue and (hopefully) thrive.

  • The DLR was created for IronPython, written by Jim Huginin. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the DLR was created from Jim’s own original IronPython code. Jim worked on IronPython before he worked at Microsoft. The DLR is open source. In fact, it is used in Mono, so we can always target Mono’s version of it. Embrace and extend works both ways, right?

    JB Evain had a great post this morning, calling for Microsoft to completely divorce from IronRuby. Otherwise, since the core is closed to external contributions, any community effort could be ruined by Microsoft if they ever release a new version on their own. Just the fact that it could happen will prevent a lot of people from putting a lot of effort into it. Read the post: http://evain.net/blog/articles/2010/08/07/on-ironruby

  • Rick van Lieshout

    i’m not sure, but why does the .net platform need those iron languages? if you need Ruby, take the proper Ruby. If you need python, take the proper python. is it the lack of inspiration in ‘our’ .net world?

  • I agree with Rick. If the real issue here is you want to run ruby on rails in IIS, then create a project that let’s you host ruby on rails in IIS.

    Truthfully, I just assume use ‘proper Ruby’ then mess around with IronRuby.

    Flip this around for a moment, how many Rubist are pushing for a C# implementation of Ruby on Rails – probably none. They just use Ruby :)

  • then i guess we better throw away JRuby, the C/C++ ruby implementations, etc. in fact, we have to throw away all implementations of ruby that have platform / language specific extensions, by that logic. and guess what we’re left with… nothing.

    there is no “proper” ruby. the closest is Matz Ruby Interpreter (MRI) and it’s a C/C++ implementation that still allows language / platform specific extensions.

    you have the wrong perspective, entirely. the point is not that .net needs these iron languages. the point is that that languages, with a .net imiplementation, give .net developers a new world of options and possibilities.

    use the best tool for the job at hand. not everything a .net developer does should require a static compiler, a bloated IDE, or any of the other things that we drag along with us when we use VB/C#/etc.

    having a ruby implementation that runs on the .net platform gives .net developers a new world of options and tools at their disposal. instead of waiting for microsoft to release some half-baked piece of crap that duplicates what the ruby community has been doing for years, let’s take advantage of what the ruby community has been doing by using ruby and providing interop with the .net platform so we can also take advantage of our existing codebase and infrastructure.

    the options and possibilities for ruby on the .net platform are so much more than the myopic “we don’t need ruby on rails in .net”.

  • Steve


    That’s flawed logic unfortunately. Large companies that use C# are very unlikely to switch to IronRuby even if it’s the “right tool”,
    because it’s not backed by Microsoft and is now an OSS.

    Smaller companies that already use the “right tool for the job approach” will just use Ruby as it is, not the IronRuby variety.

    That’s the weird Catch 22 situation with IronRuby/Python. The people that can use it, will just use the “real” versions, and everyone else can’t use it due to restrictions within their corporate environment.

  • flawed logic? how about not injecting your opinion as fact? i know a lot of people that are already using ironruby in MS-only shops, including some very large corporations.

    ironruby is a viable option for those that want the flexibility and still want / need to work with existing assets / code.

    i don’t claim the iron* languages will be a panacea of solutions, and i don’t claim that everyone will want to use them or be able to use them. and i never said anyone would switch from c# to ironruby.

    assuming no one can use these tools, for the reasons you state, is flawed logic because it’s your opinion based on whatever perspective you have. i know people on all sides of this multi-faceted fence.

  • Steve

    Calm down there Derick. You are basing your entire argument off the fact that a you know a few people use the language, so aren’t you doing exactly what you accuse me of doing?

    Here are the facts, many large companies only use what Microsoft produces, and are deathly afraid of OSS due to legal reasons. I have worked for three companies that have felt this way, so that’s not opinion, that’s fact.

    Second fact, IronXXX is now OSS, which instantly eliminates it as possible tool for any company who falls in the incredibly large bucket I just mentioned.

    Now this one is just speculation, but if a developer has open reign to use whatever tools they want, they will more often than not choose the “real” version of the tools over using the IronXXX variety. For example, I do work outside of my day job to dump into my kids college fund, for that work I use Ruby, not the Iron variety because there is no need to add another layer of abstraction for no gain.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate that Microsoft decided that have two people work on IronXXX, and yet have entire teams dedicated to Web Matrix, Microsoft.Data and LightSwitch. I also think it’s great that people are upset about it and that they’re going to try and make it work, but look closely at the people who are angry. It’s the same 100 people that hated Microsoft.Data.

    The reality is, the .NET community was a lot more excited for LightSwitch than they were upset about IronRuby being shelved. You have to remember that the people who read this site (and others like it) are the a very small minority of those who use .NET.

  • good points, steve.

    and sorry i came across as being all worked up in the previous comment. didn’t mean to do that.

  • Steve

    Actually, I kind of came across as a DB in that second email, sorry about that. :)

    The .NET world has changed pretty drastically in the past few weeks (LightSwitch, MS.Data, Web Matrix, IronXXX, etc.). Thankfully F# is still out there, but I wonder how much attention it really is getting?