Are you new to Ruby on Rails and want to learn more about the various aspects of the technology? If you're wondering what it is, when it's used and it's advantages, this is the perfect blog for you.
What is Ruby on Rails?
Ruby on Rails, also known as Rails, is a web application framework that is built using the Ruby programming language. Rails is known for its ability to make creating full-stack web applications easy. With Rails, developers like us have access to a variety of built-in features, such as the ability to connect to a database, use a templating engine, and handle routing.
One of the key features of Rails is the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architectural pattern. This pattern separates an application into three distinct parts: the model, which manages the application data; the view, which handles the presentation of the data, i.e., the UI; and the controller, which controls the flow of the application. This makes it easy for developers to organize and maintain their code.
History of Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails was created in 2004 by David Heinemeier Hansson, a programmer at 37signals (now Basecamp). Hansson extracted Rails from the codebase of the company's project management tool, Basecamp, to make it easy for other developers to build web applications with Ruby. The first public release of Rails was in July 2004.
Its popularity can be seen through its high adoption rate among developers, as evidenced by its large number of Github stars, currently around 52,000. A large number of stars and the active nature of the repository are strong indicators of the continued popularity and relevance of the Rails framework.
Why Ruby on Rails?
Faster Web Application: Ruby on Rails being a full stack framework has a number of built-in features and good developer experiences, such as the ability to connect to a database, use a templating engine, and handle routing, allowing developers to launch web apps faster than with other web frameworks.
Cost-effective: By allowing you to build web applications quickly and with less code, Rails can help you save money. This means you can get your application to market faster and for cheap prices.
Easy Maintenance: Rails adheres to the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architectural pattern, which makes it simple to work and maintain your code. This helps to avoid data migration issues that you might face with other frameworks.
Faster and Safer: The Ruby on Rails web framework makes your application faster and safer by providing built-in support for common web development tasks and by adhering to the MVC architectural pattern.
Easy Updation: Ruby on Rails makes it easy to update your application with the latest functionality by providing a clear and consistent structure for your code.
Metaprogramming: Rails uses metaprogramming techniques, which allow you to write programs with less code and more flexibility. This means you can write more efficient and maintainable code.
What does a Ruby on Rails developer do?
Simply put, Ruby on Rails developers create robust and scalable web apps from scratch.
One of the main jobs of Rails developers is to design and build the structure of a web app using the Ruby on Rails framework. This includes creating the database schemas, setting up URL routes, and designing the look and feel of the web app. They also write the code that connects the app to the database and manages user interactions.
Rails developers work closely with the graphics team and other developers to ensure the end product meets the client's needs. They may also be in charge of testing and debugging the application to ensure it works as intended.
Rails developers are also responsible for keeping the app up-to-date and secure over time. This includes incorporating new features, fixing any bugs, and making sure the app is safe to use. They need to know about the latest tools and technologies that can help them implement certain features like authentication, authorization, etc.
Rails developers need to stay on top of trends and the latest advancements in the Ruby on Rails framework and the web development industry as a whole. They should have a solid understanding of web development concepts like MVC (model view controller pattern), RESTful architecture, and Agile methodologies.
How to become a Ruby on Rails developer?
Learn Ruby: Ruby is the programming language that Ruby on Rails is built on. Take time to learn the basics of Ruby programming language, such as syntax, data structures, and object-oriented programming. Invest time in learning the fundamentals, and you will appreciate yourself :)
Learn Ruby on Rails: Once you have a good grasp of Ruby and reaches a situation where you can understand ruby code, start learning Ruby on Rails. This can be done through online tutorials, like YouTube videos.
Build projects: Practice building real-world projects using Ruby on Rails. This will help you gain hands-on experience and improve your skills. You can create clones of popular web applications and understand how they implement certain features.
Join any rails community: Join a community of Ruby on Rails developers, such as through online discussion forums, StackOverflow, meetups, or Github discussions. This will give you access to resources and help you connect with other developers. Connect with like-minded people on Twitter who have the same taste as you. It can even help you to get some opportunities.
Get experience: Get some experience working on Ruby on Rails projects, whether it's through internships, volunteer work, or freelance projects. This will help you build your portfolio and demonstrate your skills to potential employers.
Keep Learning: Once you become a Ruby on Rails developer, continue to stay updated with the latest advancements in the field and keep learning new things. Build projects with what you have learned, it can be static web pages or dynamic website
Showcase everything: Whatever you learn, try to share it with others using social media like Twitter. You can start posting what you have learned and use the #100daysofcode hashtag. It gives you an opportunity to connect with a lot of people.
Advantages of using Rails
Tooling: Rails is a full stack framework that has a variety of tools and libraries that help developers to deliver more features in less time. Compared to other frameworks, Rails includes built-in support for database management, routing, and testing, which can save a lot of time and effort.
Libraries: Rails has a large and active community of developers who create and share reusable code in the form of gems. These gems can be easily integrated into a Rails application, which can save developers time and effort when implementing common features.
Quality of the Code : Ruby code is known for its readability and maintainability, which can make it easier for developers to understand and modify code written by others. Additionally, Rails encourages the use of best practices and patterns, which can result in higher-quality code.
Automated Testing: The Ruby community places a high standard on testing, and Rails provides a built-in testing framework that makes it easy for developers to write and run automated tests. This can help to ensure that an application is stable and bug-free.
Large Community: The Ruby community is large and active, which means that developers have access to a wealth of resources and support. Additionally, many experienced Rails developers can help newcomers learn the framework.
Productivity: Rails is designed to be easy to use and has a shorter learning curve than other frameworks, this allows developers to quickly become productive and build robust applications.
Getting Started with Ruby on Rails: Setting up Your Web Development Environment
To get started with Ruby on Rails, you can follow these steps:
The first step is to install Ruby on your computer. The recommended version of Ruby for Rails is version 2.7.0 or higher. You can check if Ruby is already installed on your computer by running the command ruby -v in the terminal. If Ruby is not installed, you can download it from the official website: https://www.ruby-lang.org/en/downloads/
After you have Ruby installed, you can install Rails by running the command gem install rails in the terminal. Rails is a Ruby gem, which is a package manager for Ruby. This command will install the latest version of Rails on your computer.
Create a new Rails project
Once you have Rails installed, you can create a new Rails project by running the command rails new my_project. This will create a new directory called "my_project" that contains all of the necessary files and directories for a new Rails project.
Run the Rails server
Now that you have a new Rails project, you can start the Rails server by running the command rails server in the terminal. This will start a web server on your local machine that you can use to run your Rails application. You can access your application by going to the URL http://localhost:3000 in your web browser.
Key features of Rails Framework
Active Record: Active Record framework is an Object-Relational mapping (ORM) library. Active Record allows developers to interact with databases using Ruby classes, rather than writing raw SQL. This makes it easier to work with databases and allows developers to focus on the business logic of their web apps rather than worrying about database interactions.
Action Controllers: Active Controllers are the classes that handle the flow of data between the Model and the View. Action Controllers are responsible for receiving requests from the user, processing them, and returning a response. They are also responsible for handling the logic of the application, such as authentication and authorization.
Action Dispatch: Action Dispatch is responsible for routing requests to the appropriate Action Controller. Action Dispatch uses a routing table to map URLs to controllers and actions, allowing developers to easily map URLs to the appropriate controllers and actions in their application.
Scaffolding: Scaffolding is a feature of Rails that allows developers to quickly generate boilerplate code for their applications. Scaffolding can be used to generate the basic structure of a Rails application, including models, views, and controllers, as well as database migrations. This can be a great time saver for developers, as it allows them to get started quickly without having to write a lot of boilerplate code.
Hosting Ruby on Rails applications
You can host your Rails application in multiple ways and of course, you can go for the free tier or the paid tier.
One of the popular ways is to use cloud hosting providers like AWS (Amazon web services), Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure. These services provide countless options, including virtual machines, containers, and serverless computing, for executing and growing your application. Additionally, they give you access to tools for administering and monitoring your application, as well as interaction with other services like load balancers and databases.
Another option is to use a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider like Heroku or Cloud Foundry. These web services handle the infrastructure and scaling for you, and provide easy-to-use interfaces for deploying and managing your application. They are generally simpler to set up and manage than using a cloud provider, but may not offer as much control or flexibility.
Whatever hosting solution you decide on, it's crucial to make sure that your web application is set up for production use. This covers things like creating a database, setting up a reverse proxy, and making sure your application is safe and able to handle heavy traffic.
API’s in Rails
Thanks to the built-in support for RESTful routing and controllers in the Rails, creating an API is comparatively easy and straightforward. Representational State Transfer, or REST, is an architectural design for creating online services that is built on both the web's and HTTP's guiding principles.
You must first establish a new Rails web application with the —api parameter, which will set your application up to use a basic set of middleware for API-only apps, in order to begin developing an API in Rails. By setting this flag, your web application will be configured to only use the middleware necessary to run an API and exclude any middleware that is used to process web requests, such as cookies and sessions.
You must next design your API controllers and routes. RESTful routing in Rails makes it simple to connect URLs to controllers and actions, making it simple to design an API with a standardized and unified structure. You could, for instance, designate one route to POST /resources for resource creation and another to GET /resources/:id for resource reading.
You may begin constructing the functionality of your API once your routes and controllers are configured. Rails' built-in support for managing JSON and XML data makes it simple to handle requests and return responses. Additionally, you may connect with the database of your application using Rails' ActiveRecord, which makes it simple to access, create, update, and delete records.
What exactly are ruby gems?
Rails applications can use gems to offer a variety of capabilities, such as:
- Additional libraries and features for the Ruby language
- Functionality that is unique to Rails, such as adding support for various database systems or managing file uploads
- integrations with third-party services, such as sending emails or using APIs
- instruments for testing and development, such as performance profiling and debugging
When a gem is installed, it becomes available to the application and can be used in the application code. Rails applications, for example, can use gems to add functionality such as authentication, authorization, pagination, and more.
Gems can be found and downloaded from the official RubyGems repository or other public repositories. Ruby developers can also create and distribute their own gems.
Drawbacks of Ruby on Rails
However, just like all technologies, it also has its disadvantages. Here, we will explore the major drawbacks of using Ruby on Rails.
The runtime speed of Ruby on Rails is one of its major disadvantages. When compared to other technologies such as Node.js and Golang, ruby code has a slower runtime speed. This can be a significant drawback, especially when you are working on projects that require high performance and low latency. The slower runtime speed can lead to longer load times for the end-user, which can negatively impact their UX.
Lack of Flexibility
Another drawback of Ruby on Rails is its lack of flexibility. ROR is ideal for building standard web applications, but it becomes challenging to add unique functionality and customization to apps built using it. This is because of the hard dependency between components and models. The hard dependency makes it difficult to make changes and add new features without affecting the overall functionality of the application.
The boot speed of Ruby on Rails is also a drawback. Due to the dependency on a large number of gem dependencies and files, it takes some time to start, which can obstruct developer performance. A slow boot speed can lead to delays in the development process and negatively impact the developer's productivity.
Finding good documentation for Ruby on Rails can be a challenge. It is particularly difficult for less popular gems and for libraries that make heavy use of mixins. This can make it difficult for developers to understand how to use certain features and can lead to delays in the development process.
Ruby on Rails supports multithreading, but some IO libraries do not support multithreading because they keep hold of the global interpreter lock. This means that if you are not careful enough, your request will get queued up behind the active requests, and you will face performance issues. This can lead to delays in the application's performance and negatively impact the user experience.
When to use Rails and when not to use Rails
Although Rails is an all-in-one web framework, it does come with some tradeoffs. The following are some general scenarios where Rails can be used for development:
When to use Rails:
- When you are building web applications that require a lot of database interactions and CRUD( Create Read Update Delete) operations.
- When you want to take advantage of its conventions, which can speed up development time
- When you want to use a framework with a large and active community, which can make it easier to find help and resources
- When you want to take advantage of its expressiveness, flexibility, and readability
Rails is not a suitable solution for situations like:
- When you need to build a high-performance, low-latency application, such as a high-end game or a financial trading platform that will have millions of transactions in a day
- When you need to build an application that requires a lot of computational power, such as a scientific simulation or machine learning model.
- when developing an application that needs a lot of concurrency or parallelism.
As always, the choice of the framework should be based on the specific requirements of the project and the expertise of the development team.
Thanks for reaching out so far, you are a fantastic reader!
In this detailed article, we have looked into one of the most popular web frameworks, Ruby on Rails. We have looked into the various advantages and disadvantages of using Rails. We have also covered some of the best practices that you can implement while developing an application in Ruby.