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Rails TakeFive: Five Questions with Cliff Moon

Rails TakeFive: Five Questions with Cliff Moon

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Published by FiveRuns
The Rails TakeFive interview series is a weekly discussion with FiveRuns and noted developers in the Ruby on Rails community. In this edition, we’re happy to have Cliff Moon, a web application developer for Powerset in San Francisco share his thoughts on Ruby on Rails.
The Rails TakeFive interview series is a weekly discussion with FiveRuns and noted developers in the Ruby on Rails community. In this edition, we’re happy to have Cliff Moon, a web application developer for Powerset in San Francisco share his thoughts on Ruby on Rails.

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Published by: FiveRuns on Aug 01, 2008
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8/1/08 11:15 AMRails TakeFive: Five Questions with Cliff MoonPage 1 of 3http://blog.fiveruns.com/2008/3/21/rails-application-monitoring-takefive-five-questions-with-cliff-moon
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On Rails production performance and monitoring
Rails TakeFive: Five Questions with Cliff Moon
Published on March 21, 2008 by deanWelcome to the latest in theFiveRuns Rails TakeFiveinterview series, where we pull together the bestminds in the Ruby on Rails community to share their point of view on all things RoR. This week, we’rehappy to have Cliff Moon, a web application developer forPowersetin San Francisco share his thoughtson Ruby on Rails.
FiveRuns:
Welcome, Cliff, and thanks for joining us. Let’s talk aboutMerb– their official language is allabout being agnostic – ORM agnostic, JavaScript library agnostic, and template language agnostic – whatdoes this mean? And what does it mean to be “thread-safe”? Is there promise in implementing Merbalongside of Rails?
Cliff Moon:
Merb is pretty great. We’ll be launching our product front end in Merb. The componentagnosticism of Merb simply means that it doesn’t tightly couple with any one framework for ORM, JS,etc. In exchange for some pain getting set up, it buys you more flexibility and a smaller runtimefootprint since it doesn’t throw the kitchen sink into your app.One of the reasons we chose Merb for our front end was its ability to safely handle concurrent requestsin a single mongrel. The front end is IO bound waiting for a backend service with a highly variablelatency. It’s pretty much unacceptable for an entire mongrel to be out of commission waiting for abackend service. The traditional response for a Rails app is to simply increase the number of mongrelsrunning on a host to the number of concurrent requests one expects see at peak traffic. The problemthere, from a scalability perspective, is that each mongrel will have a pretty hefty memory footprint. Soit means that you would have to commit more memory capacity per page served. For our app, we canserve about 5 concurrent requests from a single mongrel with Merb. The best part is that we reallyhaven’t given up any productivity for these performance gains, at least beyond the initial hump of learning the framework.
FiveRuns:
What aboutRubinius– what do you see as the major advantage here, even though we’reobviously in the early stages?
Cliff Moon:
Having more choices in Ruby runtimes is a very good thing. JRuby is pretty great, but weuse too many C extensions for it to be a seriously consideration beyond some isolated applications. Butwe badly need a more stable runtime that can fully utilize the entire library of existing Ruby code. MRIhas some pretty serious issues with memory management, threading, and performance in general. Thememory leaks alone mean that it is unadvisable to run a Ruby daemon without some kind of supervisorlike god or monit.Tom Werner, a colleague of mine, spent a good deal of time tracking down memoryleaks in god only to find that the leaks were in the interpreter. It’s agood read, and it illustrates thatalternatives are sorely needed. Whether or not Rubinius will catch on remains to be seen. Overall it is agood thing. The lack of a stable runtime can only hurt adoption, and Ruby is a language that deserves aruntime that doesn’t feel like a toy.
FiveRuns:
There was agreat articlerecently on the Rails community in Austin and the Austin on Railsuser group specifically. Are you part of a local user group? Tell us about your local community, whatyou love about it, how it is grown, and what challenges the group sees ahead of itself, in both the nearand long term.
Cliff Moon:
I was a member of Philly on Railsbefore I moved out to San Francisco. It was pretty muchmy introduction to both Ruby and Rails and I met a lot of cool folks there. I still lurk on the mailing list,despite my relocation. The main challenge I see for user groups is remaining friendly and open enough 
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