Bruce Tate is the author of Bitter Java and Bitter EJB, so if you were just judging by the titles of those books, you may not be too surprised that Tate is at least interested in an alternative. There’s a long way to get a conversion out of it, but Tate at least haves Rails on the radar and are seeing some of the possibilities:
Which brings me back to Ruby on Rails. It’s got that magic. I’ll just give you a little taste. When you’re mapping a Java class to a schema, you must often type the name of a property five times. FIVE TIMES Count them. Three in the bean: the getter, the setter, the instance variable. One in the schema: the field. Two in the mapping: the property, and the column. In Ruby, you type it once. Reflection and inspection of the database handle the rest. You use intelligent defaults and naming conventions to handle the rest. You can always override differences, but you don’t have to.
Keeping DRY is a big part of what makes Ruby on Rails special compared to the Java world. Getting rid of the bane of compilation in the development cycle is another big one.