Back in the mid 90s, in the very early days of Java, I was a member of the San Francisco Java Users Group. This was when it was easy to get someone like James Gosling to come talk to us… and he did.
One of the things I liked most about James was that he was the antithesis of the corporate toadies who only spouted the company’s marketing hype. This meant you could get real information and thoughtful commentary from James.
So, it makes me sad when I see him saying this:
“PHP and Ruby are perfectly fine systems,” he continued, “but they are scripting languages and get their power through specialization: they just generate web pages. But none of them attempt any serious breadth in the application domain and they both have really serious scaling and performance problems.”
UPDATE: It turns out that’s not precisely what he said… close, but enough of a difference for me to retract what I’ve said. Jump to the end for more…
I’m not qualified to comment on PHP, but when it comes to Ruby everything thing he said is false, except possibly that Ruby is a scripting language! There is such a large body of counter-evidence now, that I’m not even going to waste my time rebutting.
Even worse, as Chad Fowler pointed out, he seems to be completely clueless:
What’s notable here isn’t that he’s wrong and we need to defend Ruby from his ignorance. What’s notable is that the guy who’s supposed to be carrying Java forward is completely clueless about the real competition.
UPDATE: Bill Venners just posted a transcript, which was not available before. Reading the actual transcript shows a much more reasonable point of view than was implied by the slightly inaccurate “soundbite”.