The Web Gambit

Thoughts on Web Development

Twitter, the unlikely flagship app for Ruby

After seeing Jason’s recommendation to try Twitter and speaking with my colleagues at the latest DDNUG meeting, I decided to give Twitter a shot. It seemed fairly simple to start with and highly addicting for quickly posting simple stuff without writing a full blog post.

However it didn’t take long to see what everyone is complaining about. Twitter is slow. It’s clearly a victim of its own success, but this could have some repercussions for the Rails community as it basically proves that Ruby on Rails does not scale well beyond certain limits in its current form.

Twitter’s definitely not a victim of their Rails environment choice, but seems to be more a data architecture problem. Friendster ran into similar problems back in 2003.

I’m sure the Rails community will figure a way to deflect this bad PR, but to really compete with the Enterprisey heavy-weights like J2EE and .NET, they better come up with a way to scale better before they become the next PHP.

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2 responses to “Twitter, the unlikely flagship app for Ruby

  1. mark April 17, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Luckily, I think twitter is the kind of web-app that can actually afford to be slow without making users so upset they leave. If it was an email client, a search engine, or any kind of a more complex application, people would leave it in favor of a better, faster solution, but since its both so simple and so unique, I think people tolerate it’s slow speed. I for one really don’t care that it’s slow, especially since using IM or twitteriffic to update is so fast, I don’t care how long the back-end takes to catch up.

  2. Karthik April 17, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    The posting seems to be okay (except for the fact that the Googletalk integration breaks all the time).
    The big sore point for me has been adding followers through the web interface…I think I’ve added the same people 6 times and it still doesn’t register.

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