Edinburgh Emerging as Centre of Excellence for Ruby on Rails Development in Europe

March 4, 2010 by  

Web Hosting ToolsUnited Kingdom – Europe’s top ruby developers will converge on Edinburgh this March to take part in legendary, Pragmatic Studio’s, first European studio in the run up to the Scottish Ruby Conference the same week. The news signals a move to establish Edinburgh as UK centre of excellence for Ruby and Ruby on Rails.

The studio will be run by EdgeCase, one of America’s first boutique software shops, pioneers of software craftsmanship and specialists in Ruby; EdgeCase sponsors the conference, largely organised by EdgeCase’s Paul Wilson. Members of EdgeCase helped build the foundations of Ruby, writing a lot of the software Ruby developers use today and have worked on the US Online Yellow Pages, cited as one of the top Ruby applications.

EdgeCase UK’s, Paul Wilson, who heads up the company’s recently opened UK office explains: “Our aim is to grow the UK Ruby market. Ruby on Rails is an application platform popular with entrepreneurs, VCs and angel investors because it gets start ups off the ground quickly, allowing them to move onto the next funding round. And unlike other rapid development frameworks, it gives a solid foundation on which the startup application can be sustainably grown once the funding has been secured. This makes it a perfect fit for the current economic climate and we are already attracting a lot of interest from the investor community.”

Recession is driving IT towards ‘lean and mean’ development, favouring flexibility and cost over platform loyalty to deliver business efficiency and drive increased revenue.

Companies testing the waters with open source, rich internet applications and dynamic language frameworks are reaping the benefits of lower software capital costs during development and lower support costs during deployment.

According to Forrester Research’s recent report on application development, although .NET and Java EE remain the most used application platforms, there is a strong uptake of alternative platforms like Ruby on Rails.

Forrester goes on to suggest a “fit-to-purpose” approach in which businesses look to alternatives outside the all-encompassing platform to suit their needs. And to beware of over-buying in the name of standardisation and place the real importance on performance.

The market for Ruby on Rails is now reaching maturity, following the success of high profile applications like Linked In and the American Yellow Pages. Best suited for applications needing a high level of interactivity and the ability to share information between thousands of users, Ruby and Rails supports and encourages test driven development.

Research shows that the longer it takes to deliver a product, the less chance of success (Source: Jim Johnson et al, 1988. ChAOS: A Recipe for Success. Reported in Craig Larman’s Agile and Iterative Development). Ruby on Rails applications are built up to ten times faster than in Java and .NET because the ‘low ceremony’ nature of Ruby on Rails allows test driven and agile development, delivering software incrementally rather than in one large piece.

Ruby on Rails forces the developer to test everything as they write, effectively building a safety net as they go.This process results in highly maintainable applications and because 85% of software costs lie in maintenance , the long term costs of running ruby applications are significantly reduced.

All software has a shelf life but because of the iterative nature of Ruby on Rails, it can be re-factored quickly without changing its functionality, again meaning lower costs over the long term.

EdgeCase produce software early, within two weeks of starting, testing as they go along taking a building block approach building the application piece by piece. This method of development allows complete transparency – so clients can see the software being built as it progresses.

Wilson explains: “We believe in “software craftsmanship” and see ourselves as software artisans, developing applications with true craftsmanship that will stand the test of time. We take ancient artisanal values and apply them to cutting edge software development.”

To sign up for Europe’s first Pragmatic Studio visit

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