This is another example of what a coworker called " Intellectual Correctness " that is spread in the software industry.
The tool may be working right and well, but if for a someone is not " correctly " in a intellectual fashion , so doesn't work. He gave me an example: " A mortal user / ordinary person needed to hammer nail on the wall. The only tool he had was a rock. So he used the rock and he succeed to hammer it well. Then a software developer came and he saw the work done. The nail was well placed on the wall. But despite that, he said: " It's wrong, because you didn't use a hammer ".
I agree, PHP is a ugly language. VB is criticized, but you know what ? Who cares !!! Is not the language itself, and at the end is how you used it. We are developing tools, not writing pieces of literature.
PHP is damn easy to use, learn, install and deploy. And you can work with it right out the box. That's why is widely adopted. And all the major and popular web apps like wordpress, joomla, phpbb ( and even facebook ) are written in PHP.
I coming back to this post because I'm giving a try to your brand new finished Discourse app. Let me congratulate you and your team because you did that great work in the client side.
But I'm going to quote some subject you mention in this post:
The best way to combat something as pervasively and institutionally awful as PHP is not to point out all its (many, many, many) faults, but to build compelling alternatives and make sure these alternatives are equally pervasive, as easy to set up and use as possible.
So you decided to built it in Ruby. I have to say, I'm not a Ruby developer nor Linux enthusiast. I have 15 years in the field and I don't want to spend more time learning yet another programming language just for the sake of the "intellectual correctness ". May be its because it's version 1.0, but having to download a virtual machine, running another set of tools and learn all that stuff to give a try ? Anyway, I did it and doesn't work.
Maybe PHP is ugly but you know what ? I can download Joomla or WordPress, get it done in minutes, work on it in Windows and put it in my host right away.