Ruby on Rails getting HTTP streaming

Version 3.1 of the Web development framework also will have jQuery its default JavaScript library

With the planned 3.1 release of the popular Ruby on Rails Web development framework, developers will see support for HTTP streaming, to improve page performance. They also will find that JQuery becomes Rails's new default JavaScript library.

Details of the release have been appearing on the Rails blog this week, and Rails founder David Heinemeier Hansson subsequently offered his own perspectives. "HTTP streaming makes it possible for the browser to fetch expensive assets like stylesheets and JavaScripts before the server is done processing the whole request. This means a page that feels significantly faster because it's ready to use by the user sooner." HTTP streaming also is known as "chunked responses," the Rails blog states.

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In making jQuery the default JavaScript library, Rails builders are recognizing the momentum behind jQuery and extracting out the RJS (Ruby-to-JavaScript) compiler that worked with the Prototype JavaScript framework. "JQuery has more momentum, but the practical change is very little. People could already very easily use jQuery with Rails before this (and many did). This just updates the default to fit with that," Hansson said. RJS becomes available as a gem add-on to Rails instead of being part of the standard distribution.

No specific date has been set yet for the release of Rails 3.1. "Rails is still baking, but we can see the end," Hansson said. The Rails blog also notes the release this week of Rails 3.0.7. "The main change in this release is to fix a performance regression in Active Record that was introduced in version 3.0," according to the blog. Active Record offers a base for models in a Rails application as well as database independence.

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