Ruby for the Web? Check!

Well friends, it's time for another episode of "Impossible Or Not!" Today's contender is Ruby in the browser, long desired but never achieved. There are front-ends to Ruby services, delicious Ruby-JavaScript libraries, and of course the ever-popular Ruby on Rails web framework. However, developers have been clamoring for something more.

IRB in an Applet

A long, long time ago in a web far away, there was born a bright-eyed new child named Java. Java found its first public uses in flashing, twirling, annoying buttons called Applets. It was also a bit slow, having just been released into the world. So the big bad public said "Java is slow and only useful for annoying buttons!" And so Java was branded the "slow annoying button" language.

But Java has grown up. It hid away from the public eye, dwelling in dark, dank servers and enterprises. It learned the value of five nines uptime and horizontal scalability. All the while, it improved its public face, preparing for a return home to its birthplace on the web.

Now Java has grown up. It has learned how to appease the enterprise gods while presenting itself to the web in beautiful, performant glory. And it has a new friend: Ruby.

Yes, JRuby can run in an applet. No, it's not that hard. No, the archive doesn't have to be this big (the applet above is about a 1.6MB JAR file, but it includes stuff it doesn't need). Yes, this means you could start writing stuff for web pages in Ruby. No, I'm not kidding.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Updated: I fixed the issues under Windows, so it should work for those of you that reported errors. Thanks for the heads up!
Written on November 15, 2006