Monday, January 07, 2008

17 Thousand Reasons I'm not a Ruby on Rails Developer

I'll admit, this post is a bit tongue in cheek.
It's mostly inspired by the numerous Rails Community anti-Java posts. For the record, I don't see J2EE and RoR as competing. They each have different strengths and weaknesses and excel in different areas.

Anyway (images from
Median Salary by City - Skill: Ruby on Rails (United States)

These are in no way comprehensive, or even accurate, considering according to these guys I'm way over the median. But, as they say, nothing lies like polls, statistics, drunks and children. And nothings impresses like pretty charts ;-)

Median Salary by City - Skill: J2EE (United States)

The difference in median pay (in my area) is a new car every two years.

It's interesting to note that there were 126 respondents to the Rails survey and 959 for the J2EE survey.
I couldn't find any cool charts on number of job postings by category, but, I tend to use job postings as one of the best predictors (and validators) of a technology. One of my primary objectives, as an engineer, is to stay employed and employable.
A quick check on shows: 171 Ruby Jobs and 2689 Java jobs shows 636 Ruby Jobs and 14856 java jobs.

I think one of the primary reasons that the pay will be lower for RoR is actually the fault of the RoR community. The framework is constantly promoted as making development very simple and easy. Yet, you often hear, even form the experts, that Java is hard and complex. It is quite a bit harder to negotiate a higher salary to perform an "easy" task.

I think to bring salaries up, they need to drop the "easy" part. Development is hard, and no language or platform is going to change that. We solve complex problems. Complex problems are hard to solve. period. They should focus on the productivity gains in the areas where Rails shines, and try to avoid the areas where it doesn't.

Anyway, happy monday


Since Brian requested it

PHP: dice shows 2225 jobs

.Net shows 12333 jobs on

if by wiskey (someone with a cooler domain name than me) has a comparison for the UK. His post is based on pragmatism, not the normal emo stuff we usually see. His blog is pretty cool too.

Update (again):
Al Lee (aka Dr. Salary) has published an informative post on this subject (much more informative than my satire). And considering his background, he knows a lot more about the subject than I. His post is definitely worth a read (I just added his blog to my google reader).

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At 07 January, 2008 13:30, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Rails developer in the Boston area, I can tell you with confidence that these numbers are way off. You can't hire someone to wash the windows for $61K, never mind write Ruby code. I think you'd be lucky to get away with offering as little as $100K.

The number of job postings is interesting, but doesn't tell us much either. Rails is still growing fast in popularity, while Java has likely peaked or is on a plateau with a slight incline. Many startups are using Rails, and aren't hiring 10 people at a time the way lots of big Java shops do.

At 07 January, 2008 14:22, Blogger doyle said...

Slap the .NET and PHP up.

At 07 January, 2008 21:32, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my primary objectives, as an engineer, is to stay employed and employable.

A couple months ago I actually took a risk and tried walking on two feet instead of all four. Not many of my peers are doing this and I must admit there doesn't seem to be much of a future in it - but I can see a lot more now.

At 08 January, 2008 08:57, Blogger Unknown said...

>> The difference in median pay (in
>> my area) is a new car every two
>> years.

Well, so much for coding4beer, I guess ;-)

At 08 January, 2008 15:14, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect that one reason Rails developer salaries are lower is that many people are moving to Rails from PHP development, which pays significantly less than J2EE development. These developers are probably paid more compared to those PHP jobs due to the relative scarcity of Rails developers, but are still being paid less than J2EE developers.

At 08 January, 2008 19:10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not arguing, but it might help if you compare the same cities in the same order on both charts. :^)

The lowest city in chart #1 doesn't even appear on chart #2.

At 08 January, 2008 19:17, Blogger jt archie said...

Well if we are going to make assumptions about numbers. Let me take a crack at it.

With the low number of Ruby jobs, implies that they are being filled that quickly. As to Java, there are so many that cannot be filled.

Also, the fact that the salaries are so high for Java means that is the only way they can attract people to move Java is for more money. Ruby is so simple, that many people have picked on it, so with supply and demand the salaries have evened out.

Its clearly because Java is Enterprise ready, and its so hard to grasp that you needed smarter and harder people to get the E in J2EE.

How am I doing here? I could pull numbers to support my arguments too. By this is all sarcasm. I don't support what I say.

Remember 70% of statistics are made up.

Anyways, we all know Perl is superior. This I really mean.

At 08 January, 2008 19:57, Blogger willCode4Beer said...

As for the cities, that's what showed up when I punched the values into

Like I said, the numbers on the site indicate that there weren't enough respondents to get really accurate numbers anyway.

I'd call the numbers anecdotal not, statistical.

At 09 January, 2008 08:16, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did a similar comparison a few months ago in the UK.

I moved from J2EE->Rails->J2EE partly because Rails exposed me more to price competition from college graduates.

At 09 January, 2008 08:51, Blogger doyle said...

.NET can sorta do the 'E' thing so I guess that might be something to learn. All the cool kids are porting their libraries to .NET anyway. e.g. Spring, Hibernate, IBatis and many many others....

Is that what the 'E' in .NET means ?

Anyway Grails will shut down the Rails/Ruby camp since it is 'E' ready.

And no those jobs are not listed yet.

At 09 January, 2008 16:05, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool post, particularly because you used PayScale data :-)

This got me thinking about what conclusions one should draw from these charts, and it ballooned into a post. See

Cheers, Al Lee (Dr. Salary)

At 09 January, 2008 16:46, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People on the East demand both - a new car every 2 years AND satisfaction from their job - these days. They get it.
People on the West want *only* satisfaction from their job - and remain satisfied with old broke cars.

Wow!! Why does a programmer need to be broken (in mind, financially)?? Why a broke kind of a thought process?? I don't understand it. Personally speaking, I want both, and I get it.

I don't have *any* problems when the author of the blog post says "The difference in median pay (in my area) is a new car every two years.". That's good forward fabulous thinking to me. Let us get both (a new car every 2 years AND satisfaction from our jobs) to stay ahead in the game in this competitive world.

At 10 January, 2008 10:14, Blogger Senthil Nayagam said...

I get to make some opinions, maybe hilarious

you write 1/20th the code in rails than java, that could be a reason for lesser jobs

companies probably pays more to java developers as they have to work harder to get things done.

thank you for not being in rails, one less competition for me

we are the largest rails development firm in India, we had been pretty busy for last 2 years

At 10 January, 2008 12:09, Blogger willCode4Beer said...

Hi Senthil,
Thanks for the response.

Actually, we don't have "Rails developers" and "Java developers".

We have "Software Development Engineers", whose job is to find the best solution to a given problem (and they get paid about 20-40% over the median for a the things listed).

If the best way to solve a problem is with Rails/J2EE/Roxen/Apache Mods(C)/or whatever, it'll get used.

We don't have time for playing favorites with languages, and we don't hire people who only know one thing. We hire highly skilled people who know that pragmatism is more important than favoritism.

We are one of the dotcoms that made it. We have a very fast paced environment because we often have to develop solutions very quickly when working with partners like Verizon, Tivo, Viacom, and quite a few others. When you work on a project here, it's going to be seen by millions of people the first (and every) day it hits production. Quality, scalability, and performance are critical.

If fact, we are looking to hire a couple of people right now.

As for my post, it was meant as a joke. In a form of a response to all of the "X reasons why I program in Y instead of Z" postings we see every day. It's just satire combined with a little sarcasm.

At 18 January, 2008 21:58, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I supported C++ propriatary code for 10 years and did a little java here and there and a bunch of Perl as well. I realized the web was maturing and wanted to get into web development. I bought all kinds of books on PHP, Java Certification, JavaScript, J2EE, SOAP, Micro Java. I was really turned off by all the stuff I had to memorize for the Java certification that didn't seem at all like the way I have had to approach trying to master new languages in the past. It felt more like administration to me. PHP seemed like Perl with classes adapted for the web, semi interesting but nothing really new there.
When I bought my first Rails book I was pretty much hooked. I went to a Ruby meetup and some Java programmers there complained about all the XML configuration they had to do. There was a time when Java was what I wanted to learn ..

At 05 October, 2010 07:16, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like a lot of the top Rails talent are independents (like me), so we don't show up in these surveys.

But since I've left my senior/team-lead level position at BEA (remember them?) and started my mostly ruby consultancy, I've dropped about 50% more gelt into my coffer (over about 3 years). Put that in your survey.


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