Ben Curtis is concerned about the "significant changes happening" in Rails and how to cope with keeping up. We hear you, Ben. That is why we've been striving hard to keep new releases after 0.9 (which did require significant) as gentle an upgrade as possible.
The release log documents this by showing just how little change you've had to make to your application over the last four months to keep it running. The next release (0.11.2) promises once more to be an effortless upgrade despite the huge mass of new features, fixes, and tweaks.
Regarding the youth of Rails, you are indeed correct that in calendar time we're fairly freshly backed (9 months, just in time for delivery). But do consider the following facts in your evaluation of Rails' infancy:
- Although not released until the 24th of July 2004, Rails has been in development since the Basecamp project started in mid/late 2003. During that time it grew under the real-world constraints of a an application first in development then live
- Rails has since its release been used in hundreds if not thousands of applications of varying size
- We have more than a hundred contributors who actually have a patch live in the source
- The framework is stable enough than no less than four books are being written about it
Adoption, patches, and usage are certainly not the only qualifiers for neither framework fit nor "maturity". If so, all should be flooking in eager joy to projects like Struts. But they give some indication that perhaps calendar time is not the best, or at least only, way to gauge that elusive "maturity" idea (see more on my thoughts on maturity).
All this is especially interesting information when comparing Rails to maintaining a framework of your own. It is indeed a hard choice to exchange the complete flexibitlity of your own creation with the relative unknows of a community effort like Rails. While Rails is by no means billing itself as a short stop for "maturity" and stability (stasis are to be had in many other projects), though, it's still a big step up from having to do everything yourself.
We've had many developers echo exactly the opening sentiment you bring of "...a lot of the grunt work with building web applications goes away". This is true not only for features, but naturally also for the smaller things like a just right API or fewer bugs. In short, it makes sense to be part of a community where you can leverage the work of others and contribute back your own. Which is exactly what all of these many, many contributors have done over the recent months.
In closing, you're almost there anyway! A big step for many others coming over from PHP is the use of the Model-View-Control pattern, object-relational mapping, and many of the other patterns and approaches that may appear foreign to a lot of PHP developers. Thus, your mind is already in the accepting state. I encourage you to execute and come on over.
This reworked message was brought to you by the No-flames Committee for a Kinder Rails Face after reconsidering the gall-inspired wordings of Rails infancy but home-grown dish solid