Hooliganism in IT

The kerfuffle around the Turbo project has again shown the toxic side of IT and left me confused as to why the announcement was controversial.

Oh boy, literally a day after a released my site and mentioned DHH somewhere, said DHH stirred the online pot with a “controversial” announcement to drop TypeScript from one of their open source projects that, while being a JavaScript project, is mostly used in Ruby on Rails projects (to my knowledge).

I put controversial in quotes, because I don’t understand why it even got so controversial in the first place, other than some people being overly fond of TypeScript.

Let’s dissect the situation for a second, from the outside, with no skin in the game of Ruby, Rails, Turbo, JavaScript or TypeScript and as someone who is as Switzerland as it gets when it comes to typing philosophies:

We’re talking about a project called Turbo that allows mostly Ruby on Rails developers to create an experience similar to single page applications, without dealing with a full-on frontend framework. Its tag line on the homepage is literally “The speed of a single-page web application without having to write any JavaScript (emphasis mine). You could argue that the increasing complexity of those frameworks and the frontends built with them is the reason for needing TypeScript in the first place.

So, I guess the most vocal advocates against the drop have not used Turbo in any shape or form. At least I can’t really fathom how the circles of the Venn diagram of people trying to do as little JavaScript/TypeScript on the frontend as possible and the people absolutely swearing by Typescript have any kind of overlap?! Maybe they were already angry that something like Turbo existed and dropping TypeScript was just the last straw, who knows?!

So maybe it’s potential contributors. First of all, I guess DHH didn’t do this decision alone and in a vacuum. Probably all of the maintainers agreed to it, which means the people who do most of the work. Second, the project isn’t massive, so using TypeScript likely didn’t give them that much value (obviously, otherwise they wouldn’t have dropped it).

What is really confusing though, and I repeat myself, the project is mostly used in Ruby on Rails projects to my knowledge. Last time I checked Ruby was dynamically typed as well and Rails takes proudly advantage of it. So either there are myriads of web developers using Turbo with web frameworks in statically typed languages or some Ruby on Rails developers have a split personality, secretly longing for some type safety?! I doubt that most Ruby on Rails developer are mourning the loss of static typing in a helper project.

DHH already wrote a commentary which is well worth a read. In it, he even mentions that some people calmly expressed valid arguments for leaving TypeScript in the project.

Unfortunately our industry showed its toxic side once again here. It happens very frequently and has happened for ages. Anybody who dared mentioning, let alone using something like Python, Ruby or JavaScript in large enterprises around 10–15 years ago, knows what I’m on about. The reaction was more akin to the inquisition when you had committed blasphemy. It was not limited to software developers either, but plenty of stakeholders and decision makers chimed in, showing their lethal combination of ignorance and arrogance. It felt more like a hooligan’s chant than a professional discourse. While the topics have changed, the behaviour is still prevalent today.

These days, I’m just confused at how much energy people waste on these things, when we often have bigger fish to fry. If you disagree with the decisions of the maintainers, take a breather, fork the project and let the actual consumers of the software library decide who is right.