ActiveRecord: the Visual Basic of Object Relational Mappers

I’ve been working with Ruby on Rails intensively for several months, and I’ve finally found a place where Rails can’t readily be extended to do what I want. It’s ActiveRecord, which is probably the most controversial part of Rails.

I’m reminded of a James Gosling quote disparaging Microsoft tools, particularly Visual Basic: “The easy stuff is easy, but the hard stuff is impossible.” There’s a parallel between VB and Rails in this instance, in that if you only let yourself use the high level tools, the hard stuff is impossible, but the designers specifically tell you to do the hard stuff using a lower level toolset. The controversy that surrounds “X can’t do everything, therefore it sucks” should really be focusing on the feasibility of going through that trapdoor to do things “the hard way”. This is what Delphi did, which is why so many folks chose it over VB; it made the hard stuff easier.

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