I couldn’t agree more with Chris on the reasons for a Rails-like framework for Java.
In many ways, I see a lot of similarities between this struggle and the one between POJO’s vs. EJB: a struggle between robustness vs. simplicity. This has been a hard realisation for me because whereas I was a big opponent of EJB’s, I’ve always been (and still is) a huge supporter of Struts. However, when you see how easy it is to build applications on frameworks such Ruby on Rails, it becomes pretty clear that the cost of innovating in Java is currently way too high. Nowadays, whenever I want to build up a new application to test out ideas, I’m not doing it in Java anymore - it just doesn’t get me to where I want fast enough. For the most part, web application frameworks are just a means to an end; if you’re spending too much time there you’re just jerking off.
And the unfortunate thing about not using Java is that as you build up your application, you find yourself missing the vast array of Java libraries and tools out there today. On the flipside, Java misses out on the new ideas garnered from a developer’s late night binges of inspiration. We need to be removing the obstacles and making sure that we developers get access to the heart or the Java platform quicker and easier.
In a lot of ways, I see Ruby on Rails and its like as a disruptive technology, and applaud those in the Java arena looking to embrace it. It is pretty chaotic right now, with a new framework popping up every few weeks or so, but eventually there will be one or two that will rise to the top.