I've been spending my weekends trying to keep up with the ruby community. Building toy projects, testing new gems out, and I've found a lot of cool stuff out there.
But what has really struck me as more of a game changer than anything else is Heroku.
You remember when Rails first came out? I remember experiencing it as an epiphany, of sorts. I had spent years writing java apps, configuring every application down to the most minute details. Along come this Rails framework and says "I know what's usually best, and that's what I do by default. My conventions are king.", and that changed web development for me. I could get features done twice as fast because all the config I usually did up front for each piece was already done for me. Yeah, that meant a loss in flexibility, but I didn't mind much. If I have to do something special, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
The same sort of feeling came over me this weekend when I tried deploying my first heroku application. I just ran a simple "heroku create" command from my home directory of my app, and it was deployed in seconds, ready to be updated by a simple git push, and already live and kicking. Once again, there's this new guy on the block who says "This is what you usually need, so this is what we always do", and it works so beautifully. Need email? Push an add-on, it's already preconfigured. Performance monitoring? memcached? error notification? it's push-button simple.
And the best part? If you want to spike out an application that you aren't sure you want to build all the way out yet, you can have it deployed and running on their simplest and smallest configuration for FREE! That's right, just try it out, see if it's viable, and when you're ready to bring the traffic you just reconfigure it to spool up more resources. Everything is billed by a running meter (I think around 5 cents an hour per process), and it just works.
To the creators of Heroku, I salute you, you've made Rails deployment fun.