ALA 257: the why and how of Ruby on Rails

Issue No. 257 of A List Apart, for people who make websites, is about the why and how of Ruby on Rails:

Creating More Using Less Effort with Ruby on Rails

by Michael Slater

The “why” of Ruby on Rails comes down to productivity, says Michael Slater. Web applications that share three characteristics—they’re database-driven, they’re new, and they have needs not well met by a typical CMS—can be built much more quickly with Ruby on Rails than with PHP, .NET, or Java, once the investment required to learn Rails has been made. Does your web app fall within the RoR “sweet spot?”

Getting Started With Ruby on Rails

by Dan Benjamin

The “how” of Ruby on Rails: Hivelogic’s Dan Benjamin prepares non-Rails developers, designers, and other creative professionals for their first foray into Rails. Learn what Ruby on Rails is (and isn’t), and where it fits into the spectrum of web development and design. See through the myths surrounding this powerful young platform, and learn how to approach working with it.

[tags]alistapart, rubyonrails, webdesign, development, RoR, ruby[/tags]

18 thoughts on “ALA 257: the why and how of Ruby on Rails

  1. I’m the author of the ALA article cited here, and would like to point people as well to the free online course in Ruby on Rails that I’m offering on my site. It starts with eight audio podcasts that explain the fundamental concepts, and then moves into a series of screencasts that show how to build a simple site with Rails, creating a basic content management system and other features. Check it out!

  2. Hi Michael – thanks for the information. I’m afraid there seems to be something wrong with the link (its href attribute is missing.)

    Any chance you could post again? Thanks.

  3. Thank you Michael! Two fantastic articles about something I have been curious about for quite sometime. It’s a very good beginners guide which is something I have been looking for and I was very excited to see it pop up in my ALA feeds list on my Google homepage.

    So, I am going to set some quality time aside this week and get my hands dirty with ROR and discover this exciting concept.

    Also thanks to Jeffrey! ALA is still the best out there – it rocks big time!! :-)

  4. Great articles. They got me excited about developing future projects in RoR. However, a splash of cold water was thrown on the entire idea when I read about RoR miserable performance on shared environments.

  5. Strange that ALA has articles on server side technology framework such as RoR. I understand that this is probably a need since nothing new really happens in webstandards/HTML/CSS/Javascript, but writing about Ruby framework just feels inappropriate for ALA. My two cents.

  6. Strange that ALA has articles on server side technology framework such as RoR. I understand that this is probably a need since nothing new really happens in webstandards/HTML/CSS/Javascript, but writing about Ruby framework just feels inappropriate for ALA.


    With roughly five-hundred mostly well-vetted articles going back ten years, ALA is in some ways a magazine of record for web designers. Yet strangely, we had no articles on Ruby on Rails, a platform that has had tremendous importance to web design, and is used by front-end and back-end developers alike. These two articles correct that lack.

    ALA articles aren’t just read the week they’re published; they continue to be found and studied for years by people at different levels of experience and expertise. Young or new web designers, who turn to our site as a matter of course, may look to us for information on Ruby on Rails—just as they previously successfully looked to us for information on other aspects of web design. When they do, these two fine articles will give them a basic overview of the how and why of the platform, and provide linkage to places where they can learn more.

    nothing new really happens in webstandards/HTML/CSS/Javascript

    You think not? Unobtrusive scripting, microformats, HTML 5, WCAG 2, WCAG Samurai, version targeting in IE8…

  7. Jeffrey: Of course, I know about microformats and other things, but what I meant was that webstandards are going through the evolution now, not the revolution. So, basically, new things come and go, some stay. All this happens in small steps, not in jumps. So, it’s easier to grasp the concepts behind these.

    Regarding the RoR: I am not complaining, it just felt strange. But I understand better now – I browsed older content (long forgotten by myself) and found bunch of articles about PHP, so you are correct.

  8. ALA has also set a precedent for discussing server-side technology, with several articles related to PHP popping up in the past. Ruby (the language itself) is a major push forward in making it more feasible for more people to become involved in software development. The day may come where the jack-of-all-trades web designer might wish to or have to be able to handle some, much, or all of his own scripting. ALA would be mistaken to ignore such things.

  9. Thank you Michael, great job. In the era of technological development, we come across with many innovations every day. The good thing here is that the new projects offered successfully meet the users’ requirements and are really promising one.
    Two days before I came across with another interesting approach, offered by a non-profit organization named OMFICA. My advice to everybody check, you will find a lot of interesting stuff there, the implementation of presented ideas can be accepted as a beginning of the new era in the Internet

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