Summary:

Heroku might have expanded its embrace to include Node.js and Clojure, but its heart is still with Ruby. To wit, Ruby creator Yukihiro Matsumoto is joining the company as its chief architect for Ruby, which should only improve its standing in the developer community.

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Heroku might have expanded its embrace to include Node.js and Clojure, but its heart is still with Ruby. To wit, Ruby creator Yukihiro Matsumoto is joining the company as its chief architect for Ruby.

This type of hire is nothing new in the cloud computing world, where strong developer traction is critical to a company’s success. Node.js proponent Joyent now employs its creator, Ryan Dahl, and several Java-based PaaS offerings are stocked with former Sun Microsystems and JBoss veterans. VMware was so adamant about Spring as a development framework that it bought SpringSource. The better the language or framework, the more developers. The better a particular platform is suited for that language, the more customers it can attract.

If Heroku was doing great with developers before — it was hosting more than 100,000 applications before Salesforce.com bought it in December, and claims to be attracting all types of large-enterprise developers since — having the master of Ruby driving its efforts in-house should only improve the matter. This is on top of the recently added support for Clojure and the Node.js programming framework.

In a press release announcing the news, Heroku GM and Salesforce.com SVP of Platforms Byron Sebastian is quoted as saying, “As a member of our platform development team, Matsumoto-san will continue his work on the Ruby language in close collaboration with the Ruby community, keeping the language open and advancing the technology in exciting new ways.  Matz will further accelerate innovation for Ruby and make it even friendlier for developers to build world-class apps.”

Actually, though, Heroku has been working with Matsumoto for a few months. As part of a Salesforce.com-wide investment in Japan, the company announced it would be lending support to his efforts to further develop the Ruby language.

It’s worth asking at this point what all of Salesforce.com’s investment in Heroku and its focus on next-generation programming tools says about the survival of Salesforce.com’s legacy Force.com platform. Both have distinct roles now, but as development moves to new languages and models like those Heroku supports, is it worth maintaining two separate platforms, one of which is tied to a proprietary language? Or, as the cloud layers continue to blend into one another, do Salesforce.com’s SaaS, PaaS and database offerings take on an altogether new look and feel without such strict boundaries?

Image courtesy of Juixe TechKnow.

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