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Airbnb Tech Talk: Yehuda Katz - It's Harder Than It Looks

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Published on May 29, 2012

In April 2012, Yehuda started a kickstarter to make it easier to install Rails on OSX and get started developing Rails applications. The response was largely positive, and he met his funding goal rather quickly. On the flip side, a number of folks publicly asked why this project was necessary. Surely, they reasoned, it would not be very difficult to script a Rails installation.

This sort of reasoning pervades the open source community, allowing apparent simplicity to drive inappropriately simplistic solutions. Worse, it implies that non-trivial solutions are "overengineering" the problem. Because open source solutions have historically leaked implementation complexity into the public API, some end developers have become wary of large solutions, often assuming that the simpler the solution, the better.

As examples of this phenomenon, Yehuda talks about some aspects of Tokaido (the Rails project) that are unexpectedly difficult, and also how the bundler project faced a similar reaction in some circles. He also talks about how certain seemingly complex solutions lead to win-wins by eliminating sources of errors that are not limited to new developers. These kinds of solutions always require more work and more code than the simple solutions, but they are worth it.

Yehuda Katz is a member of the Ember.js, Ruby on Rails and jQuery Core Teams; he spends his daytime hours at the startup he founded, Tilde Inc.. Yehuda is the co-author of the best-selling jQuery in Action, Rails 3 in Action, and is a contributor to Ruby in Practice. He spends most of his time hacking on open source--his main projects, along with others, like Thor, Handlebars and Janus--or traveling the world doing evangelism work. He blogs at http://yehudakatz.com and can be found on Twitter as @wycats.

https://www.airbnb.com/techtalks

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