Ruby on Rails has got to be the most hyped non-commercial web programming tool in history. A lot of Java and .NET people are skeptical. Some are even downright angry.

If I were them, I would be angry too. You’ve got people like Curt running around preaching about a 10x productivity increase over other web frameworks. And, of course, David receives a great deal of pleasure in taking pot shots at the poor J2EE and PHP people (come on, David, it’s like taking candy from a baby!). And, to top it all off, when they pull off the cover of hype, they find that there really is a productivity increase approaching what might feel like 10x. Damn!

The people of the Ruby and Rails community are about to put the productivity claim to a real test (though most would call it a demonstration, not a test): Rails Day. Rails Day is being organized by Lucas Carlson (and others?). On June 4, web developers will have a chance to show just how much application functionality they can pack into 24 hours of development. They’ll be working in teams of no greater than 3 people, using ONLY libraries installable via RubyGems, competing for a collection of fabulous prizes. (Not quite as thrilling as, say the Mac Mini, Ruby Central is giving away a free RubyConf pass). By the time it would take a Java team to get their IDEs installed, the contest will be over, and we’ll have a set of new web applications that are sure to be smashing.

So, you’ve got more than a month to prepare. If you don’t already know Rails (or even Ruby), it’s not too late. Believe me: one month is plenty of time to learn both of them.

Also, remember that you can only use gems, libraries included with the Ruby distribution, or Rails itself (which is a gem, of course). This means you can cheat! You have a month to create and release all of the gems you may need to create the killer web application. A whole month! Go read the list of prizes. Now make some gems! (Never mind the fact that there are already 258 different gems to choose from—not including the multiple versions of each—you’ll still need more!)

And, remember: this contest is about fun. Don’t be too mean to the Java, .NET, and PHP people afterward (I won’t even mention the Python and Perl people…that wouldn’t be fair). They already feel bad enough.