So at Dave Thomas's closing RailsConf keynote, he talked about the dangers of cargo culting and how we need to be aware of how those kinds of things affect our thinking. This made me feel somewhat vindicated considering I was committing what amounts to serious heterodoxy in the Rails community: playing with software written in Java.


Anyone who listened to me rant during that weekend probably heard me talk about Helma. Most people gave me funny looks, which made me feel all the better about PragDave's keynote. ("Cargo-culters!") Helma is a web development framework I discovered during my time in Indonesia. The bulk of it's written in Java, but the apps you write with it are written in Javascript. I had seen it mentioned before and simply disregarded it, but now that Java is Free Software I figured it was worth a second look.

So I did what any curious web developer will do when confronted with a new tool: I wrote a blog app. I actually just ported this blog over to it. (This brings the count to three systems that have powered it; four if you count a short-lived attempt at Hobix.) The port didn't take long at all since I'm fairly familiar with JS already, though there were a few disorienting moments.

Anyway, I think it compares pretty favourably to Rails in several aspects. Obviously it doesn't have the benefit of thousands and thousands of contributors, and it shows in places. But in other places I think it has a few core ideas that make it stand out and are arguably superior. So without further ado: my (mostly uninformed and surface-level) thoughts.


So I'd love to dig into the meat of Helma, but I'll have to wait until I can find a new project that would be suitable for it. It seems that due to its flexibility it would allow you to put together the initial stages of a project very quickly, but I suppose the jury is still out on keeping the project maintainable. It is more ad-hoc and allows for more deviation from convention, so that might cause maintainability to suffer. Still, I'm looking forward to being able to give it a shot.

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