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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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What Software Was Used To Create Everlater?

Comments (17)

Thanks for all the feedback and comments on the Learning to Program series with Nate Abbott and Natty Zola from Everlater.  In the last post, titled Web Sites and Books for Novice Programmers, I foreshadowed some of the tools that Nate and Natty chose to build Everlater.  Now that you know how they got started, here’s what they ended up choosing.

Everlater is built on Ruby on Rails, postgreSQL and is hosted on Engine Yard using a passenger/nginx combination.  Nate and Natty use several standard Ruby/Rails packages (gems) to extend the base functionality of Rails.  On the front end, they use a combination of jQuery and Prototype for Javascript.

The technology stack that they’ve ended up with has evolved over time.  The very first decision – which web framework/backend language to use – was the toughest.  Once again, our friend Google appeared – this time for the phrase “web framework comparison.”  A few days later, the exploration shifted from simply finding and poking around in the various languages (most notably Ruby/Rails, PHP/CakePHP/CodeIgniter, Python/Django, ColdFusion, .net, and Java), to figuring out the salient points in the debate: speed, ease of use, active development of the platform, security, and cost. 

Over beers, Nate and Natty put on blindfolds and threw darts at a board.  After incorporating these results into their decision matrix, they chose Ruby/Rails mostly because they felt that it had an active community developing it and seemed to be the easiest to learn the quickest.  It took roughly a week to come do a decision, start to finish.

After choosing Ruby as the main language they would be working with, they immediately began searching out every possible Ruby coding Meetup. Through those meetings they became connected with Boulder’s Ruby community which is an amazing group of incredibly smart people.  They also found two great people, Charlie and Ryan who began working with Everlater for equity early on and helped make some of the key early decisions.

  • http://twitter.com/ruchitgarg @ruchitgarg

    Yet another great post.

    Wondering what were the points against .net stack? With Bizspark it appears to be free atleast for 3 years.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/languagedream languagedream

    I like the blind dart throwing decision methodology! How long had you been learning how to program before you decided on Ruby on Rails?

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/languagedream languagedream

    Thanks Nate. I guess I should just choose one and going for it. I've been talking to a lot of programmers and I get a lot of conflicting advice on which language I should use, and most say to try out several first. It makes more sense in my head just to focus on learning 1.

  • http://twitter.com/nateabbott @nateabbott

    Bizspark is definitely a great program, and we know several very quality companies that are programming exclusively in .net. We didn't even know about Bizspark when we were making our decision, which made nixing .net pretty easy, since we were doing it on a very small budget. We were also drawn to open platforms with active development — it's amazing that within hours of a release of a major api change on twitter/fb/etc. someone will have open-sourced a library for PHP, Ruby, Python, etc. But as I said before, I know many companies who are totally rocking it on .net — the key is to make the best decision for you (especially what you are comfortable with) on platform, and then start kicking ass!

    • http://twitter.com/NattyZ @NattyZ

      The only thing I would add is that we are members of BizSpark and have found the MSFT team very helpful. Its a great program that we encourage all startups to consider when choosing their technology stack.

    • http://StartupTrek.TV Steve Bell

      Nate, I've heard over time, from many that the thing about ROR is the (time) "productivity leverage" in Ruby is at least 10x versus any other language or framework that you can work with. In that you can extremely quickly and efficiently, prototype and roll out new site designs and functionality. Even versus using open source CMS like Drupal 6, Joomla, and the like which is pretty amazing to hear, considering they are supposed to be the "Erector set" approach.

      So my question is: when compared to the alternatives — PHP/Zend, .Net, Python, Java/Ajax, C variants, other top languages/frameworks, and the top CMS — with your experience, do you find ROR to be super-efficient and quick as reported now that you know how to program in Rails? I guess that may not be a fair question though, since you chose ROR and didn't waste time on the others. But I bet you probably have a perspective by now?

      Very impressive how you and Natty went about "just tackling" things to become serious Geeks and entrepreneurs in a straight-line fashion. Nobody is going to hold the investment banking years against you, after THAT :-)) Serious stripes, indeed.

  • http://twitter.com/nateabbott @nateabbott

    This decision was pretty much the first thing we did. We didn't have any background, so picking the different discrete languages we had to learn was absolutely critical!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JChauncey JChauncey

    There really is no difference in programming languages they all do the same thing. Most of the time it just comes down to cost. How much does the developer environment cost to get up and running? In .NET it could be expensive if you have to license Visual Studio. In java there are pleanty of free IDEs, same with Ruby, Python, and PHP.

    Then you have to figure in the container that your application is going to run in. JBOSS vs tomcat, commercial support or not etc…

    Ruby is a fairly cheap way to get going considering its highly active community. Then with cloud based services like Heroku it makes it really easy to scale.

  • http://twitter.com/toddvernon @toddvernon

    Brad, as you know im old and i don't trust RoR. With that said, what large scale well known apps are built on Rails? Just a question, everyone stand down :-)

  • http://StartupTrek.TV Steve Bell

    todd, one that I know of is Twitter. When they went down a few times, early-on – similar to the early situation with eBay – everyone was quick to pounce on Rails as the problem, versus their site architecture. But that seems to have blown over.

    PHP is often assailed, too. But many big/busy sites are built on it – like Yahoo.com. It works, it's easy to learn, OK it's not object oriented. But it's a workhorse/powerhouse language.

    I hear that criticism a lot about all Open Source technologies. There is some merit to it, but there are two sides to the story. I don't think it's a simple phenomena, and i would be the last to write off Open Source code.

    I still have a lot to learn on all this, just the two cents I've picked up…

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JChauncey JChauncey

    Twitters front end is still a rails app but their back end processing was moved from ruby to scala (which they chose because of its multi-threading architecture).
    http://www.artima.com/scalazine/articles/twitter_

  • http://StartupTrek.TV Steve Bell

    thanks JChauncy, a sensational article. Looks like Twitter did indeed, run into some inherant limitations with Ruby. Can only imagine the compute cycles, server capacity, architecture, etc to keep a beast like Twitter running in real-time.

    I've never heard of Scala, sounds like it is a more industrial-strength language that provides some of the benefits of a high-level language like Ruby, but is optimized for larger-scale distributed computing applications? The plot thickens:)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JChauncey JChauncey

    Yeah scala is a great language for highly distributed applications and it runs on the JVM which means enterprise support is easy to come by.

    here is a list of 50 ror sites -http://storecrowd.com/blog/top-50-ruby-on-rails-w

  • http://StartupTrek.TV Steve Bell

    wow – I had no idea that many major sites were running on ROR.

    At first i thought you had posted your favorite 50 ROR sites for learning how to program in it:) Thankful that i won't need to plow thru 50 sites to explore ROR :))

    When i was working with CMS developers in 08', one of them got his fill of PHP and Drupal, coincidentally (i hope) after working with me on it for a few weeks. He went to Borders at lunch, returned with about 12 ROR books, and quit. I just talked to him a few days ago, and he's been happily cranking out sites using Ruby since then.

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