Tech consultancy rails for Ruby framework

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Tech consultancy rails for Ruby framework

Technology consultancy Shine Technologies isn't your everyday open source church.

Although it relies heavily on open source libraries, platforms and frameworks, the Melbourne-based Java shop has a firm belief in not promoting "technology for technology's sake".

"Our philosophy [is] that technology should always deliver a business benefit," said the consultancy's principal, Mark Johnson. "We evaluate technology on meeting that goal, not just on it being the latest or coolest."

"It doesn't always look as good on the resume, but it means that our clients respect our decisions," he said.

Since the company was formed in 1997, Shine has been involved in a wide range of development projects using Java technologies such as Spring, Hibernate, Struts, and the Google Web Toolkit. More recently, Shine has added Ruby on Rails to its portfolio of consulting and development offerings.

Shine's Ruby on Rails group was launched last month as a solution to new Web-based development projects that require an agile approach. Since Ruby on Rails was born from an agile, test-driven development philosophy, Shine expects the application framework to be conducive to the re-iterative agile development process.

"For web-based applications - particularly stand-alone websites - Ruby on Rails offers much faster speed-to-market, yet flattens the learning curve for both us and our clients," Johnson said.

"The resulting code is smaller, easier to manage and the release process is extremely efficient."

Along with Ruby on Rails, Shine also employs Capistrano for deployment and CruiseControl.rb for continuous testing of newly developed applications.

As Java remains a large part of its the consultancy's development work, it is also considering the use of the JRuby implementation as a way to deploy Ruby on Rails applications on some client's existing Java-based server infrastructure.

Johnson expects Ruby on Rails to be particularly applicable in prototyping Web solutions, intranet applications and for startup companies who need to implement functionality quickly and easily.

To date, the consultancy has used Ruby on Rails in its work with the PlatinumPass corporate hospitality site, the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, Lufthansa and ANZ.

"We have recently been using Flex with Rails to deliver a very rich user interface for one client," Johnson said. "For another, we've used a framework called Ferret to give us Google-style free text searching."

"In addition, we have been using and contributing to the Chronic date parsing open source project - which is just one of a myriad of Ruby on Rails add-ons that help us avoid re-inventing the wheel."

According to Johnson, Shine's clients have responded very positively to the speed of development and flexibility of applications developed with the technology. Shine is now looking to introduce Ruby on Rails to its other clients, including Sensis and AGL.

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