Monday, September 10, 2012

Goodbye OpenRasta - Hello Nancy

This is a painful post to write as I still feel a strong residual loyalty to OpenRasta (OR) however I have now moved over the Nancy and so I would like to give you my reasons why. These are not technical reasons, far from it, instead I give you nothing more than sorrowful account of feelings hurt, a comparison between the brutal, distant and dominant love provided by OR versus the beautiful, seductive and submissive framework that is sweet Nancy.

To establish my bona fides:  The pain I have experienced using OR cannot be easily dismissed, the problems were not simply due to a lack of familiarity or a sanguine welcome to the razor's edge of open-source development. I have now delivered two projects with OR  as well as spending time (and money) with Sebastien Lambla (Seb) taking his REST course down in London - and I think that's enough experience to get the gist of the framework, even if I am not exactly a glassy-eyed contributor.

The final result, in my opinion, is this: OR was almost great, and may yet be great still, but it has been hamstrung by the side of the tracks that spawned it. It was not born of the grotesque, flabby, Microsoft world (that pays my bills), but sprang forth from the lean, hyper-cool loins of the command-line world where Linux is something other than a Charlie Brown character and eidetic memories for endless strings of command-line linear-B are de-rigueur.

And I almost made it. I almost stopped being a child-coder with Microsoft chocolate smeared around my mouth, I almost became a ethically-focused, command-line vegan coder because OR, for a while, bridged those two worlds. But then Seb took his eye off the ball and, like Macbeth, the vaunting ambition that made him great now led to his downfall. And fall down he did, back into the world of black-windows with strange commands, the no-mouse, no GUI world, the Essene asceticism of keyboard short-cuts, and instead of continuing with OR, pushing hard to fix its early-years verbosity and birthing difficulties he wandered away to become an absent father.

Perhaps this is how open-source is meant to work, perhaps it was now down to the acolytes to push the code forward, and for a long while I hoped so but I am not a source-code Github-jockey, I want something I can install and use. And yes, I know, I should be cool with incanting my own assemblies from magical hieroglyphic streams but my flesh is weak. I don't really care what a make.bat is - something to do with windows 3.1 if memory serves - which it doesn't usually.

So when it came to being a player, a contributor, an open-source-head, I failed, and I wept as I failed, I raged against the purity of others as I failed, but I failed all the same. OR worked, yes it did, and compared to MVC (oh, I am not that bad come on, MVC, really ... anybody? ...) it was a revelation of RESTful cleanliness, but it did not work well enough, not for MS fan-boi coder like me, with my fat behind and nervous giggle, sweating in a wannabee black turtle-neck, stretched and lumpy, splattered with dribbles of full-fat Starbucks coffee. The marathon running dream receded with each month that went by without an official OpenRasta release, the vegan dream with each cheeseburger I crammed into my eggy-bearded mouth, the Linux dream when I realised I couldn't even master the miniature piano far less remember du -s * | sort -nr

Personally I think Seb got bored and needed a new challenge. OpenWrap (his package manager) was a brilliant idea but MS got there second with the inferior Nuget and, if Seb had not been so pure, he would have realised that his true calling was to follow through with his beautiful, but flawed, OR and thus raise himself as the RESTful saviour for soft-palmed coders like me who just don't get why icons are bad, coders who guiltily stuff their mouths with creamy Nuget packages because its so easy, coders who right-click on their projects and select 'Manage Nuget' even though they know that for some vague, undefined reason this is meant to be bad, bad, bad.

Then Nancy sashayed into the room and one look was all it took. She was just so easy. Everything just worked (as it would have just worked in OR if Seb had not wandered back into the desert seeking further visions). The Nancy site looked great (as the OR site would have looked if such things had any interest to hard-muscled, flinty-eyed Linux coders). And now I love Nancy, I just can't help it, she is beautiful and she is getting better all the time - with regular updates to help smooth my brow and keep my underpants clean. She smiles with concerned understanding at my code-smells and quietly helps me to REST at night, she doesn't even seem to mind my guilty habits, my perverse but harmless need to update my project with her latest code, even as I cast a side-ways glance before furtively click-click-clicking my dirty little mouse.

I know I am wrong, I know that OR and OpenWrap are probably better, but I also think that none of that matters for the majority of coders like me, who want to impress the boss with the sites they make, coders who try to care about the command line and silently weep tears of acid guilt because it makes no sense, coders who cannot resist unstopping their ears because they want to hear the sirens calling, calling us back to the colours and the pictures and the pretty-little-clicky-things, coders who will work with impure products just as long as it makes their grubby lives that little bit easier.

I am sorry Seb, I really am. I think you are great, a visionary, but your eye wandered from the little people and I felt unloved. I am just a humble C# coder, I need my visual studio crutch because I love all those code colours and I am addicted to the soft whisperings of my metham-resharper. The command-line is a cold place to be and I need warm cuddles - I think you lost me when you forgot that.