Brad Madigan asks:
Was Ruby on Rails a planned attack while building Basecamp, or did you realize, “Wow, we have a real MVC framework here” after the fact? Other than the obvious technical aspects, how has Rails helped 37Signals as far as business development is concerned?
In the beginning, there was no Rails, there was only Basecamp. After working on Basecamp for a while, though, I eyed the option of giving all the generic pieces a life of their own. But even then, I continued to work on Basecamp first. Which meant that all the functionality of Rails came as extractions of a real application, not of a “what somebody might need some day” fantasy, so prevalent in framework design.
This extraction-driven nature of Rails attracted a culture of practical programmers with a zeal for delivery, which proved to be perfect hiring crop for 37signals. From the core group of people around the framework, we were lucky enough to hire such amazing talent as Jamis Buck, Sam Stephenson, and Jeremy Kemper for the company. That’s probably the biggest benefit that 37signals has derived from Rails.
But many other benefits are obvious. Including awareness, goodwill, and press. And of course the joy of working with a technology so uniquely aligned with our thoughts on software development.