Will Ruby on Rails Remain Relevant?

Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails

Language popularity is a touchy subject among tech pros, but it can have serious implications for your career arc. A few years ago, for example, coding bootcamp Coding Dojo announced it was dropping all Ruby on Rails courses. Does that mean the language, which is used by many tech professionals, is in trouble?

According to Coding Dojo, its decision was driven by a study to identify top languages by city. Ruby on Rails was only a top-five language in two cities, Atlanta and San Jose. Coding Dojo said the language showed “moderate demand, at best,” adding “it is perceived as popular and taught in almost all coding bootcamps.”

The bootcamp wasn’t replacing Ruby on Rails. Instead, it planned to focus on its Java course. “At Coding Dojo we’re constantly looking for ways to improve our curriculum,” said Speros Misirlakis, Head of Curriculum at Coding Dojo. “Java is the most heavily-used programming language in the world and our research shows a strong job demand for Java developers nationwide, yet Java is not commonly available from coding bootcamps. We’re proud to break new ground in equipping our students with the best possible skill set for their future careers.”

Ruby on Rails may be too niche a discipline for Coding Dojo. TIOBE data shows Ruby at 13th place on its index of the most popular programming languages, down from 11th place a year ago. Like TIOBE, IEEE has Ruby in 13th place in its most recent list, having dropped a few spots since last year. But Ruby is more general purpose; Ruby on Rails is a server-side application framework, which by definition means a smaller pool of users.

Dice’s annual Salary Survey typically shows the average Ruby salary is in the low-six figure range, roughly in the same earning bracket as Java disciplines.

Though Ruby on Rails is still a popular framework and an easy language to learn, Java dominates it at every turn (hence, the emphasis on Java at schools and bootcamps such as Coding Dojo).

Popular coding repository GitHub is built with Ruby on Rails, and much-used websites such as AirBnB, Groupon, Hulu and IndieGogo likewise utilize it. But it was designed for old-guard web standards, when servers did all the heavy lifting, and has thus ceded some synergy to JavaScript. Coding Dojo isn’t the canary in the Ruby on Rails coal mine, as some are positing; it’s not going to drop off the map. Still, Rails is probably not your best bet when it comes to career skills.