Why did we bother to create this article?
The internet is very vast, and yes, it is undeniable that there are many resources to look through when searching for detailed, comprehensive, and reliable information about Ruby on Rails.
But the question is, do you have time to browse all of them one by one? We created this article for that question.
Whether you are new to web app development and want to learn about RoR, or maybe someone looking for the right technology for the next development project, this article will answer most, if not all, the areas you need to know about Ruby on Rails.
With that said, this article is for everyone who’s interested in learning RoR or in web app development. The only people who won’t find this article useful are those experts in RoR already. So, if you are not on that level yet, surely you will learn a lot from this article.
In this article, you will know what Ruby on Rails is and what it is used for. Also, we will discuss why you should learn Ruby on Rails as we compared it to other alternative frameworks. And as a bonus, we will introduce you to some of the best and reliable resources for learning Ruby on Rails.
That said, the following are the main topics we will discuss:
Before jumping to what Ruby on Rails is, let’s cover a little history about Ruby.
Ruby is a dynamic, open-source programming language developed in 1995 by Yukihiro Matsumoto, also known as “Matz”. Without Ruby, then Rails wouldn’t exist. Matz created Ruby from taking parts of his favorite languages (Ada, Smalltalk, Per, Eiffel, and Lisp) and eventually made his ideal programming language.
Matz developed Ruby for the sake of simplicity, productivity, and fun. Ruby uses more human language, making the code very easy to read and write that even a person who doesn’t know how to program will easily understand. That is why Ruby is a great language to learn, especially for beginners.
But even with how easy the programming language is, creating new software from scratch is very tedious and time-consuming. Thus, a special tool was developed to optimize the development process.
Ruby on Rails or simply “Rails” is an open-source framework written in Ruby. Rails allow developers to build powerful web applications quickly. It is designed to make the developers’ lives easier by making assumptions about what is needed to start creating a new web application.
Rails allow you to write lesser code while accomplishing more at the same time. Thus, it makes the development of web applications easier with less complexity.
Rails was developed in 2003 by David Heinemeier Hanson, also known as “DHH”. Rails is some sort of a byproduct of DHH as he was working on a project management tool by 37signals, widely known as Basecamp.
In 2004, DHH extracted Rails and officially released it as an open-source. In 2006, Apple decided to go with Rails for their next OS called “Mac OS X Leopard”. This led to a boost of popularity in developer communities worldwide, and many applications shipped with Rails.
Currently, Rails is on version 6 and has been tested and proven by huge names such as Shopify, Groupon, Airbnb, GitHub, SoundCloud, and many successful companies.
To put it simply, Ruby is a scripting language, whereas Ruby on Rails is a series of libraries written in Ruby.
Thanks to Ruby’s benefits that Rails leverages, Ruby on Rails can be described as a perfect tool for working modern websites.
So, not only Ruby and Rails work together, but Rails depends on Ruby. Thus, they are not comparable.
Now that you have the basic idea of what Ruby on Rails is, let’s dive deeper into the topic by understanding its benefits.
Most startups face the same issue: tight budget and time constraints. But since Ruby in Rails is an open-source framework. Developers won’t need to pay for anything to use it. With the use of Gems, you can add features to your application without developing them from scratch, which also saves you time and effort.
That said, RoR is widely known as a “startup-friendly” framework. Large companies like Twitter, Shopify, Airbnb, Github, Basecamp, Twitch, and Netflix, and many more successful startups used Ruby on Rails in building their websites.
Ruby on Rails is strongly associated with startups which is no surprise. And as a framework, Ruby on Rails provides many ready-made modules and plug-ins that allow you to start developing a web app without writing boilerplate code.
Thus, it makes the development of the application much faster compared to cases in which you use other frameworks.
With Ruby on Rails, you need to follow the standardized file storage systems and programming conventions. It helps to keep the project’s structural consistency and readability while also saving a significant amount of time.
A maintainable and readable codebase means that you only require a lesser amount of time to update the code in the future.
Ruby on Rails has one of the most active and huge communities of talented and highly-experienced developers in the programming world. The community develops many free add-ons that can be useful in developing your application, which is very convenient for startups that want to build new feature-rich applications in the very quickest time possible.
Moreover, if you face a problem during the development of your application, the chances are high that someone has encountered the same problem and is willing to share the solution with you. Thus, you can develop your application faster, thanks to a huge community and support.
Not only does the community provide a solution to your problems, but it also offers many useful, functional, well-documented, and tested modules and plug-ins for every possible need.
RoR philosophy is centered on two key principles:
1. DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself)
This principle states: “Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system”. The principle encourages developers to minimize the repetition in their code base and separate the application’s logic into smaller, reusable units.
This way, it makes the code easier to understand, maintain, and debug. So when you update either piece, you only need to update once, and the changes will be applied across the entire codebase.
2. CoC(Convention over Configuration)
This principle is at the center of how RoR evolves over time. RoR provides a set of “sensible defaults” rather than allowing developers to have complete control. It means that by minimizing the number of decisions you make, it gives you more time to concentrate on building the application.
The best example of “sensible defaults” are the naming conventions that RoR provides. For example, if you have an object named “Product”, the table in the database will be automatically named “products” by default. This might not sound so significant, but you would definitely appreciate its convenience if you were to name hundreds of tables manually.
However, if you don’t like the default settings that RoR sets for you, you can overwrite them and adjust them however you like in order to remain flexible.
That said, the following are the types of projects that Ruby on Rails is best for:
Shopify is the best example of an e-commerce platform that uses Ruby on Rails as its framework. E-commerce companies prefer the RoR framework as it provides a wide range of valuable tools. Brandless and Etsy are also some of the best examples of e-commerce web applications that utilize the RoR framework.
2. SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) projects
Perhaps the answer to the question “ what is RoR used for?” will be considered incomplete without mentioning the SaaS project. Basecamp, a project management tool that uses the Saas model and the first RoR application. Shopify, GitHub, and Zendesk are also some great examples in this regard.
3. Social Media applications
Twitter is currently one of the most popular social media platforms and is used by many people worldwide. Twitter was initially built using RoR framework. Basecamp and Dribble are also some famous examples in this regard.
4. Live-streaming apps
The number of game streamers nowadays is increasing rapidly. Thus, live-streaming applications became more popular. Twitch is the most well-known live streaming platform among gamers. Besides being a popular streaming platform, Twitch also shows how powerful RoR is and proves that RoR can compete with similar services that use different frameworks.
5. Data analytics and Information-delivery platforms
Bloomberg, a world-renowned cross-platform, data-driven, market-moving information company, developed to provide solutions to global problems. The company uses Ruby on Rails as their primary development framework. So, if your project revolves around data analytics information service, then go for Rails.
Basecamp is a popular project management software tool that heavily uses Ruby on Rails. Basecamp is probably the most important and unforgettable project in the history of RoR as the creator of RoR, David Heinemeier Hansson, took part in the development of the app himself. Without Rails, There would be no Basecamp if it was not for Rails.
RoR is considered to be the heart and soul of Basecamp ever since its release, offering reliable solutions and providing speed and scalability. Along with excellent developers from Basecamp, the framework just proved itself to be powerful enough to cater to such heavy demands of this successful web application.
An all-time favorite for all travel enthusiasts, this apartment booking service provides you with the best user experience along with its top-notch user interface. Airbnb is the best web application for those travelers who are looking for a place to stay.
Under Airbnb’s hood is Ruby on Rails, together with React and some other technologies. Airbnb has over hundred-fifty million users with more than seven million listings from around the world.
It is the most popular web-based software hosting service with wide open-source libraries. GitHub has huge community support with over 28 million skilled software developers who have contributed more than 190 million repositories so far. Github is now used by over 40 million users (including businesses, start-ups, and software development companies).
GitHub’s front-end developers have used different JS libraries (jQuery, Pjax, and many more) throughout the years, but they are now focusing on Vanilla JS. But the back-end framework remained written in Rails.
Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce software platforms with over one million users worldwide. With its easily customizable themes, Shopify allows its users to create their own shopping experiences. Shopify is probably one of the most successful RoR-based tech companies in the world.
We’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about Ruby on Rails dying or already dead, but is it really true? The short answer is no. In fact, RoR is still one of the top choices for software developers around the world.
Many people think that RoR is dead because of the gradual decrease in its popularity over the years. The biggest reason for its drop in popularity was the appearance of new frameworks. It is common knowledge that people are more likely to talk about the latest technologies.
Indeed, it is true that RoR is not as popular as it was in the old days anymore, but can we say that popularity alone is the only measurement of existence? No.
Here are the main reasons why Ruby on Rails remains a powerful framework and alive until now :
RoR has always been dynamic in nature, always focusing on simplicity and productivity, elegant syntax, ease of use, and its constant improvements. Thus, it makes the framework very convenient, functional, and, most importantly, very practical.
With multiple helpful libraries provided, it makes your project’s development much faster and easier in RoR.
2 . Community support
The very best thing about RoR is its community support. RoR has a huge community of highly skilled developers worldwide with years of experience using this technology.
3. Used by well-known companies
There is no further explanation for this. Large companies like GitHub, Airbnb, Shopify don’t bother about the word “old”. They prefer this technology because of its practicality and convenience.
Moreover, their applications are doing well and can cater to a massive number of users and traffic using RoR. Thus, RoR proves itself that it can handle the demands of such large companies.
Ruby on Rails is a mature technology, and in the software development world, most things can be trend-driven. However, other frameworks might have taken its position in popularity rankings, RoR remains just as powerful. And in many cases, RoR proves itself even more powerful than the other currently popular frameworks.
So we know that RoR is a powerful framework, easy to learn, used by big companies, and has a huge community. But what exactly sets RoR apart from other web frameworks?
It isn’t easy to find out exactly where RoR stands until we’ve compared it to other popular alternatives. So let’s compare and find out!
Ruby on Rails v.s. Django (Python programming language)
• User Interface / UI - Both frameworks are created and designed to offer a high-class experience. Both frameworks allow companies to build excellent and highly functional applications loaded with seamless add-ons and plug-ins.
• Development Speed - In the battle of speed, RoR is much faster. The reason was because of the framework’s rich repository of libraries and plug-ins, which significantly enhance development speed.
Status: RoR is faster
• Performance - When it comes to performance, both frameworks do a good job, and it is hard to point the winner. RoR and Django leverage modern programming language while providing the tools in optimizing the code.
RoR framework is best for building general-purpose e-commerce applications. On the other hand, Django is best for scientific/academic applications since it leverages Python’s versatility.
Status: Draw/no clear winner
• Stability - Creativity and stability are two parallel components that are essential for development and looking for a new solution to solve the problem is necessary. However, everything that is new can also bring instability.
RoR encourages developers to practice the reuse of code to reduce hidden dependencies. Also, RoR uses the Convention over Configuration (CoC) approach, making the developers free from any additional efforts.
On the other hand, Python practices a conventional and conservative approach to coding and encourages developers by sticking to one and proven methods to solve the problems. Which is also a good thing in terms of stability.
That said, both RoR and Django are mature and tested enough to be stable and provide a solid and reliable foundation for any project.
• Community and Support - Both frameworks have a large and rich community and support. But if we compare the two, RoR has a larger web-development-oriented community than Django. Also, the RoR is more web-centered.
Thus, the community is more monolithic, focused on the specific use case, polished and mastered.
Status: when it comes to web projects, RoR wins the comparison
• User Interface - Like similar technologies, Ruby on rails has many options for designing the interface and offering users a more convenient and alluring experience possible.
Still, tools should be used the way it is designed for and RoR is not an exception. RoR is a back-end framework. Thus, leaving all the user experience matters on RoR wouldn't be the best move.
Status: No winner
• Development Speed - In the battle of speed, RoR is much faster. The reason was because of the framework's rich repository of libraries and plug-ins, which significantly enhance development speed.
That said, RoR wins in terms of delivering a solution faster than Node.js since it is designed to run all the back-end work and not forced in a runtime environment.
Status: Ruby on Rails win
Developers praise its high-speed performance and its ability to write high-speed asynchronous code. Node.js is the best option for applications with heavy operations.
RoR on the other hand, when compared to Node.js, it is much slower. Even experienced RoR developers acknowledge that the framework is slow. Though its speed improves every version release, it is still a lot slower than Node.js.
One of the reasons why RoR is slower is that Ruby is an interpreted tool, which means that the code is not compiled into a machine version. Thus, it would take additional conversion steps, making it harder for the hardware to read and process quickly.
RoR is great for CPU-intensive tasks since it offers multiple threads. In comparison, Node.Js is suitable for I/O intensive tasks due to its asynchronous nature.
Status: Node.js wins
• Stability - When it comes to stability, the issue does not really come from what technology is used but rather how the user approaches them. And that is where the real problem starts.
That said, stability is not really the case in this context since both technologies are stable and trustworthy. What differentiates the two are the modules and extensions they have, in which RoR got the upper hand.
Status: RoR wins
• Community and Support - In the world of web development, even the most powerful technology is a flop if it doesn’t have many developers around it. In some online forums or gatherings for expert developers, some of them will talk about new interesting frameworks and programming languages but still considered unusable on a larger scale because it has a small community.
Ruby on Rails, considering its age in the web developing industry, its community is very large. The community has many highly skilled developers with years of experience using Rails.
Thus, if you happen to face a problem during the development of your project, it is more likely that someone has already found a solution and is willing to share it with you. The bigger the community, the faster and easier it for you to develop your technology.
Node.js also has large community support, but when compared to RoR, RoR is the clear winner in this category.
Status: RoR wins
As you noticed, each technology mentioned has its own strengths and weaknesses, making it very hard to pick the winner. In the end, it all depends on what application you want to create.
But considering the factors mentioned above, it is more likely that RoR will be a better pick. Having a huge community and many ready-made solutions makes the development faster, especially for small-scale projects and startups.
Still, picking the right tool is the first step to your app’s success.
When hiring a web development company, you are also hiring a technology partner. And a good partner can be or will be part of your business in the long run, considering you are happy with their service.
There are many web development companies you can find on the internet. But it is hard to pick which would be the right one for your project. Moreover, each one of them is claiming that they are the best, making the chances of you hiring the wrong company higher.
Thus, we’ve narrowed your choices into three by picking the best Ruby on Rails web development companies:
Many people with potential ideas lost their opportunity to shine because of hiring the wrong company. Thus, if you have a great startup idea and want it to be successful, then Bootyard would be more than willing to bring it to life.
Bootyard is a Ruby on Rails web development company that is based in the Philippines. Bootyard’s primary focus is to develop your startup idea into a great quality software product.
That said, Bootyard will develop and design your application where it will stand out from other competitors. Moreover, Bootyard will set up your application to where it will live and grow.
LaunchPad Lab is a software development agency that is based in Chicago. They believe that great software can push a business forward. LaunchPad Lab have already helped hundreds of companies and organizations unlock their revenue and efficiency by improving and transforming their technology.
LaunchPad deploys small, cross-functional teams of in-house product builders, bringing an excellent level of collaboration and critical thinking to every project. This honed approach is one of the core reasons why they were able to capture their clients’ trust and formed a long-term bond with them.
EL Passion is a custom software development company with over ten years in the software development industry. The company is expert in web and mobile app development with high-level developers and designers.
EL Passion always finds creative solutions to any problems and believes that quality is the way to deliver high-class products and seamless customer service no matter the circumstances.
The company develops digital products for startups, established businesses, and corporations worldwide. Mainly in the US, Germany, Sweden, and Norway. They also work with fast-moving companies in Digital Entertainment, HealthTech, Business services.
If you want to start to learn deeper about Ruby on Rails, then check out these best online resources we’ve listed for you:
This website provides a large collection of informative screencasts about Ruby and Ruby on Rails. Produced by Avdi Grimm, a fifteen-year veteran of Ruby development, surely the screencasts he uploads are very reliable and highly informative.
If you want to improve your Ruby or Ruby on Rails skills, then consider visiting their website. The screencasts are uploaded twice a week.
Episodes are produced by Ryan Bates and have more than four hundred informative and reliable Ruby on Rails resources. RailCasts is one of the most loved Ruby on Rails resources on the internet.
Although the website hasn’t been updated for a while now, there are still many highly relevant videos you can watch. And the best part is, the author made all his screencasts open for anyone. So you can watch all the screencasts for free!
Trello is a flexible, fun, and easy-to-use project management tool. Trello provides you with tools to define projects and their requirements and has a dashboard page where you can create, organize, and prioritize actions. The card system allows you and your team members to interact and collaborate with each other.
Also, you can add comments, links, files, and even photos to project cards. Ultimately, Trello's interface is very clean and fresh-looking, which makes it easy to navigate.
Codecademy is one of the most popular online code schools that offers free programming courses. The website has separate tutorials for Ruby and Ruby on Rails, including lessons, quizzes, and projects. Codecademy is a perfect environment to start your journey on learning Ruby on Rails.
This popular learning platform provides books, tutorials, and videos for various topics, including Ruby and Ruby on Rails. Authored by professional developers with years of experience in the web development industry, Sitepoint guarantees that you will get high-quality learning and valuable advice. Whether you are new to Rails or already an experienced developer, the books are worth reading.
Pluralsight is one of the best online learning platforms that offer a variety of video training courses for both beginner and experienced developers. Pluralsight provides you with high-quality education and valuable content that will surely help you solve your Rails problems.
A community-created platform where you can hone your programming skills through practice and repetition. If you ever face a problem on your Rails project, the community will share various techniques and solutions and present you with constructive feedback. Also, you can improve your Rails knowledge by inviting other developers on a code challenge.
Stack Overflow is a huge Q/A and loved community where most, if not all, developers have already taken benefit from it. The community has already helped countless developers in their careers and is still continuing to help until now. If you’re new to Rails and you’re stuck on a problem, Stack Overflow will provide you multiple solutions related to it.
Reddit is a network of communities that is based on people's interests. That said, Reddit also has a community for Ruby and Ruby on Rails where you can find discussion and news related to it.
• Ruby on Rails Blog - An official Ruby on Rails Blog where news and important and latest updates of the framework are published.
• RubyFlow - RubyFlow is a community blog where it covers everything related to Ruby and Ruby on Rails. You can take your time and browse the website to find an article that interests you.
• Schneems - A blog created by one of the top fifty contributors on Ruby on Rails, Richard Schneeman. His blogs contain many advanced and informative Ruby on Rails topics.
• RubyLand - RubbyLand is an aggregator that contains many useful news and articles related to Ruby and Ruby on Rails development.
• Awesome Ruby - It is an aggregator by LibHunt that contains lots of relevant news and articles that cover open-source solutions on a daily basis. The website aims to help you find the software and the right libraries you need.
• Ruby Weekly - a mailing list where you receive weekly emails by subscribing to their platform. The emails contain the latest Ruby and Ruby on Rails updates, news, and articles.