When Ruby on Rails burst onto the scene in 2004, it excited web developers by showing that you could build next generation apps quickly and efficiently. Rails was one of the first frameworks to embrace Ajax, giving everyone the power to do partial page updates and whiz-bang effects in a conventional, effortless way.
In 2007, the Rails team embraced RESTful conventions, making API development a no-brainer for new applications. Because RESTful JSON is so easy in Rails, Rails applications tend to implement APIs on balance.
Then it was time to polish. Both the 2.0 and 3.0 releases cleaned up the code-base and found ways to take emerging conventions and make them easier to use.
But now, like in 2004, another revolution is brewing. Increasingly, developers are moving their view layer from the server into the client, using RESTful JSON and client-side templating to increase responsiveness and bring applicable aspects of desktop applications to the web.
Like last time, not every application needs to jump head-first into this new world. But just as in 2004, Rails has an opportunity to embrace the future, and bring its ruthless insistence on convention over configuration to bear on this problem.
Rails already has the plumbing to be a fantastic conventional JSON server. The question is: will we take the challenge, or will we desperately cling to the past, hoping that the future will never come?