The Railsification of SaaS

The past: SaaSification of Rails

Before we get to the “Railsification of SaaS,” I think we should talk about the thing that’s already happened, which is the SaaSification of Rails. From late in the 2000s to the early 2010s a few aspiring entrepreneurs began to take note that while the Ruby on Rails ecosystem was superb, there were still things that were frighteningly complex to tackle as a developer. Building an online store was extremely difficult. Adding payments to your app required a relationship with a bank and running through a compliance checklist. Yikes. Adding SMS was nearly impossible.

The future: Railsification of SaaS

In part due to the phenomenon of the SaaSification of Rails, third-party SaaS APIs are now ubiquitous. To build a full commercial offering or even a side project, builders often don’t just open up a development environment, download software, and start coding. A builder today may not start with code at all — maybe they begin an idea with structured data in Airtable. Maybe they start their own online business via Shopify. The ones that do start with code may find themselves quickly wanting to add payments with Stripe. And then they want to make sure their software can send messages to their communication channels — like Slack or Discord. Maybe they want to add authentication to their app easily with Auth0.

What other opportunities are there?

The “Railsification of SaaS” is only one shift I think we’re likely to see this decade, there are a lot of companies innovating in the future of computing. I think it’s important to call out some of the ones that are succeeding in the front-end and distributed computing space.

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