The Instant Rails roadmap

I want to take a moment to lay out the roadmap for Instant Rails to give everyone an understanding of why things are the way they currently are, and where we plan to go from here.

Background

For years I have been running the open source package EasyPHP on my personal Windows server to host my tikiwiki installation. I loved how dead-simple it was to get a working Apache, MySQL, PHP setup running, and I wished that there was something like it for Rails. Eventually, I stopped wishing and forked EasyPHP to create Instant Rails.

Doing this was a bit of a compromise because EasyPHP didn’t quite do everything I wanted, they way I wanted.

First off, I wanted Instant Rails to be cross platform, but EasyPHP only runs on Windows because it contains a manager app that orchestrates everything, and that manager is a C++ Windows-only GUI app.

Second, while I really like what EasyPHP does and how it does it, I’m not a big fan of its user interface, which is a bit quirky and definitely non-standard.

In the interest of getting something out the door as quickly as possible, version 1.0 of Instant Rails is also Windows only, and I did not revamp the user interface. Instead, I made the minimal changes possible to morph EasyPHP into Instant Rails.

Instant Rails 1.0

As I said above, Instant Rails 1.0 will be a Windows only release, but you might be wondering why there has been this “endless” series preview releases.

I want Instant Rails 1.0 final to contain Ruby on Rails 1.0 (which it now does) and Ruby 1.8.4, which hasn’t yet been released. We also plan to upgrade MySQL to the most recent version in the 4.1.x series and a couple other minor things. This means that Instant Rails 1.0 final probably won’t be out until the end of January.

Don’t let that stop you from trying Instant Rails—it’s very usable right now.

Instant Rails 2.0

After Instant Rails 1.0 is out the door, we will begin work in earnest on Instant Rails 2.0. IR 2.0 will be cross platform (Windows, Linux, BSD, OSX), and we will upgrade to Apache 2 and MySQL 5.

The biggest piece of work will be rewriting the manager app in Ruby. The manager will be rewritten as a Rails web app. But since it has to control the startup and shutdown of Apache, it will be served by WEBrick. We plan to make very heavy use of AJAX to give it more of a desktop-like feel as in Instant Rails 1.0 (but with a much improved user interface).

Conclusion

This is fun stuff. And I’m really looking forward to manager rewrite in Rails. I’m especially excited about seeing just how much desktop-like we can make it.

If you think this is exciting also, and you’d like to work on it, let me know (curt at hibbs dot com)… we’ve still got room on our development team for more people.

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