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PHP or RoR for Web 2.0 Sites?

It seems that in the thick of all these Web 2.0 sites, RoR has become one of the popular language/platforms that’s being used and demand for Ruby on Rails hosting is growing (or so I thought).

In any case, I am looking at it on the (shared) hosting perspective and weighing in on the economics in providing such services.

First, is RoR the best language/platform to use? What about PHP, Cold Fusion or ASP.NET? Most of the really huge Web 2.0 sites I know of are running PHP — Digg.com, Friendster. And while there a tons of Web 2.0 sites running RoR in a list I found here, only BaseCamp by 37signals.com sounds familiar.

Second, Web 2.0 sites are supposed to be community-driven and with that computing power is vital to its operation. Hence, comes the question that sites created specifically for communities in the thousands and even hundreds of thousands needs to be scalable which requires multiple servers and the lot. Well, digg.com did start with a single dedicated server in its first few months of operation. My concern is that a shared hosting environment might not be a good starting point for serious Web 2.0 projects, unless you’re in it for some fun and tickering on the side.

Third is the cost. Will RoR hosting be as cheap as standard packages for PHP, ASP/.NET, Cold Fusion or Java? I did a quick search for hosting companies and found that the really big ones are providing RoR on the same price point as their basic Linux packages. As I explained above, the shared hosting environment might drastically affect resource allocation and processing power which eventually dictates cost. It’s another story though if you’re running it on a dedicated server.

Lastly, there’s this story that got Dugg (made it to the frontpage) a few months back about “Why Ruby on Rails won’t become mainstream“.

[tags]ruby, rails, web hosting, linux, fastcgi, php, cfm, asp, programming[/tags]

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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5 Responses

  1. Migs says:

    I think a virtual private server is the way to go. Downside is you need to do your own sysadmin.

  2. emerson says:

    from a user perspective, backends really don’t matter. in the end, it all ends up being client side html/css/javascript.

    but RoR is a source of joy if you’re a web programmer. i like the way it abstracts the most common web functions.

    my take: maybe RoR isn’t for large, friendster-like services. more like for guerilla web firms who want to take advantage of the way it enables fast, iterative development.

  3. yuga says:

    @ Migs

    I guess that might be a good minimum specs — it allows for dedicated resources for each vps.

    @ emerson

    I’m basing it on our experience with ASP/.NET which costs around 3 times for the customer at the same resources. The question here becomes, will you still use it if it’s 3 times as expensive as using the standard PHP package?

  4. ade says:

    I’m not a web developer, but a friend of mine showed me how RoR works. I was just blown away. It’s a shame if it doesn’t go mainstream.

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