Many of the major websites you interact with, like Hulu, GitHub and Fiverr, are built using Ruby on Rails. Ruby on Rails, “a server-side” framework written in the Ruby programming language, can be used to help power web applications and connect your front-end code to a website, such as Facebook and Instagram, which store user information in their databases.
Ruby on Rails allows you to do this because a database is needed for a website to store information. Ruby on Rails is a framework used to process data from the front-end of your website to your database (the back-end).
What is Ruby on Rails?
Ruby on Rails, or simply Rails, is a web framework for Ruby. A framework is a collection of code libraries that you can use for common tasks. By using a framework, you can save time and code. Rails allows programmers to repeat a task instead of writing the same code every time for common tasks like forms or tables on your website.
Ruby is an object-oriented language, which means that object-oriented programming makes it easier to write less repetitive (and thus cleaner) code. If you put things into objects, you can then perform actions on those objects. Here’s how this works:
In procedural programming, which is what most beginners learn to start, you have a bunch of functions. But if you make a change to one function, some of the others may break. In object-oriented programming, an “object” is a unit of variables and their functions (referred to as properties and methods).
In this situation, if you make a change to an object, it doesn’t break the other objects. You also don’t have as many lines of code to fix: Since everything relating to a given unit of properties and methods lives within its own object, you just have to make changes within the object. This is how object-oriented programming is a way of abstracting away unnecessary code.
Ruby is a language built for the programmer, not the machine. It’s intended to be highly readable and easy for beginners to use. Displaying the text “Hello World” requires several lines of code in languages like Java and C, while in Ruby, this task requires just one line of code.
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What is Ruby on Rails Used for?
Ruby on Rails is the most popular web framework used with Ruby, the programming language. In fact, the language is so popular that it has been used heavily in the startup space, where time is at a premium.
Companies like Airbnb, Crunchbase, Bloomberg, and GitHub are all built using Ruby on Rails, which means that they will likely continue to need developers with Ruby on Rails skills.
Ruby on Rails allows you to:
Connect your data to a database like SQL or MySQL. If you are building a website that stores user information, you’ll need to have a way to get that data into a database. Ruby on Rails has an ORM (Object Relational Mapper) called ActiveRecord. This ORM maps relationships from your database onto Ruby objects. Using ActiveRecord, you can create and insert data into your database. Once you have elements in the database, you can query (send requests to) the database.
Quickly make a prototype and test your ideas. Because Ruby and its web framework Ruby on Rails are easy to use, if you have an idea for a project, you can build it quickly and see if it works. You don’t have to spend an enormous amount of time putting together an MVP (minimum viable product) just to find out that it’s a bad idea.
Learning Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails is a valuable skill to learn if you are looking to start a career in tech, especially if you are interested in working at a startup, as many are interested in hiring people with experience coding the backend of websites. These companies need people who understand how databases work and how to transmit data from the frontend to the backend.
How should you learn Ruby on Rails? Let’s explore why you should learn how to use this framework and some resources for doing just that.
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Why Should I Learn Ruby on Rails?
There are many reasons why you should learn Ruby on Rails. Here are just a few:
Ruby on Rails is easy for beginners to learn. Even if you have never used a programming language before, Ruby on Rails is still accessible. Plus, there are a lot of resources out there for beginners, and there is a supportive online Ruby on Rails community.
Ruby on Rails saves you time. By using a web framework like Ruby on Rails, you don’t have to write as much code from scratch. It also helps you keep your code cleaner and prevent bugs — you can build projects more quickly and don’t have to spend a ton of time writing code.
Ruby on Rails is popular. There are a lot of jobs for Ruby on Rails developers. A lot of popular websites, like Twitter, are built using Ruby on Rails. Rails is most commonly used to build full web applications and APIs (Application Programming Interface). If you want to work on browser-based applications or APIs, Ruby on Rails is a good framework to learn.
It all depends on your use case. Ruby and Ruby on Rails are great if you want to quickly build a website or use a SaaS (Software as a Service).
But, if you’re trying to do web scraping or machine learning, Ruby and Ruby on Rails is not the best choice as Python and R are better suited for machine learning, for instance. Before you decide to use a technology tool, you should ask, “How are you going to use it?” and “Is it going to save you time?”
There are companies that built their websites using Ruby and Ruby on Rails back when these technologies weren’t so popular, so those companies still need developers who know how Ruby on Rails and Ruby work.
Programming languages may rise and fall in popularity, but as long as companies have at some point used them, there will be jobs for developers who know how to update them and add new features.
At the time of this writing, there are over 6,000 job results in the United States on LinkedIn that mention Ruby on Rails, over 2,000 on Glassdoor and over 2,000 on Indeed. Keep in mind that many of these jobs postings also require knowledge of other technologies as well. You, as a prospective employee in the tech world, are more valuable if you know several technologies and how to get them to work together to create a product.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Ruby on Rails?
Learning Ruby on Rails will not take very long if you are already familiar with Ruby. It may take you two weeks to learn this framework, assuming that you study it two hours a day.
You can create your first Ruby on Rails app within one month, even without having prior knowledge in Ruby. The more you practice, the better you will get at this skill.
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Is it Hard to Learn Ruby on Rails?
It’s not hard to learn Ruby and Ruby on Rails as long as you are willing to put in the time to study them. Ruby has similar logic to Python, so if you are familiar with Python, your learning curve with Ruby will be less steep. And if you are familiar with using a web framework, such as using Python’s framework Flask, to build websites, the concept of configuring Ruby on Rails will not be difficult for you to understand.
You have plenty of online and offline resources available at your fingertips to help you learn Ruby on Rails and start building projects. These resources include books and online tutorials.
How to Learn Ruby on Rails: Step-by-Step
There isn’t a single “best way” to learn how to use Ruby on Rails; it depends on how you learn and what your goals are. Some learners prefer to watch video tutorials, take courses, read books, and read the documentation before they try to build anything. Others like to just learn the basics through a few tutorials or a course before jumping in and learning the rest as they go.
Here are the steps you should take to learn Ruby on Rails.
- Decide why you want to learn Ruby on Rails. Why do you want to learn how to use this framework? Are you interested in becoming a full-stack developer and want to just have another tool at your disposal? Determining why you want to learn Ruby on Rails will allow you to focus on your goals.
- Learn Ruby. Learn Ruby first because Ruby on Rails is a Ruby web framework.
- Watch tutorials or read books. It’s a good idea to learn how to configure Ruby on Rails and install it on your machine before you start a project. You need to understand how to use a version control tool like Git to install Ruby on Rails, so if you’re not sure what that is, learn some basics about Git and how it interacts with your machine’s code editor.
- Build projects. Once you have some familiarity with Ruby and have it installed on your machine, start creating projects. Practice is the best way to absorb your new skills.
- Join online communities. Talk to other people who are using Ruby on communities like StackOverflow because these sites allow you to ask questions and share things that you are learning.
The Best Ruby on Rails Courses
Git, GitHub, and Heroku skills are also helpful as you will develop a SaaS application and learn how to test and deploy this application.
Udemy: Ruby on Rails Foundations
You will get 6.5 hours of video content and a certificate of completion in this course. Here, you will learn how to build a fully functional Ruby on Rails application, work with APIs (Application Programming Interface), how to use RESTful routes, and more.
APIs allow different apps and services to explain information. For example, you can have a weather API on your website that uses information from The Weather Channel to share weather information with your site visitors. RESTful (REST stands for “Representational State Transfer”) routes refer to the patterns in the interactions between the “client” (such as a computer or other device) and the server.
This course also walks you through the installation process, and it’s a valuable option for pursuing your studies in Ruby on Rails.
Codecademy: Ruby on Rails
Cost: Codecademy subscription ($19.99/month)
In this course, you’ll build eight complete web applications with Ruby on Rails. You’ll learn about the MVC (Model View Controller) design pattern and how to communicate with databases. This course assumes that you know Ruby, so be sure to learn that programming language before signing up for this Rails course.
edX: Agile Development Using Ruby on Rails – The Basics
Cost: Free (Certificate is $99)
This intermediate 6-week (10–12 hours/week) course requires proficiency in an object-oriented programming language like Java, C#, C++, Python, or Ruby. The course will quickly review the basics of Ruby, so you should come prepared with at least some basic knowledge.
edX: Agile Development Using Ruby on Rails – Advanced
Cost: Free (Certificate is $99)
Ruby on Rails Books
Ruby on Rails for Dummies by Barry Burd
This book teaches you how to create fully-functional web applications with Ruby and Ruby on Rails. It walks you through how to install and run Ruby on Rails and how to use the RadRails IDE.
Ruby on Rails: Up and Running by Bruce A. Tate and Curt Hibbs
This book teaches you how to install and use Ruby and Ruby on Rails. It also teaches you about how to use Ajax and REST for even more functionality. The book also explains how to use logging to find problems, as performance optimizing is an important part of web development.
Ruby on Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl
Author Michael Hartl will guide you through developing your own web application using Ruby on Rails. This book will also teach you about automated testing, authentication, and techniques for solving real-world problems. You’ll also learn about tools like Ajax, Git, GitHub, and Heroku.
Ruby on Rails Resources
In addition to the books and courses that are available, there are other online resources you can use to help you on your Ruby on Rails journey.
One of the best resources for learning Ruby on Rails is this collection of guides. These guides include everything from “Getting Started with Rails” and “Layout and Rendering in Rails” to “Debugging Rails Applications” and beyond.
DevDocs.io hosts the Ruby on Rails documentation, where you can click on a variety of topics to learn more about them.
Interact with others online through the Ruby on Rails community page. Check out this page for information on discussions, the StackOverflow Q&A tag, the annual conference, and more.
If you are interested in building web applications that have databases, then Ruby on Rails is a great tool to learn. Ruby on Rails is a web framework that can help you easily transmit data from the frontend to your database.
Ruby on Rails is important to learn if you want to develop web applications for startups because companies need to get tasks done quickly. Whether you want to work for a startup or a more established tech company, there is a demand for Ruby on Rails developers.
Are you ready to add this Ruby framework to your list of skills? Start learning today!
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