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A blog about software development best practices, how-tos, and tips from practitioners.

What is Ruby on Rails? – A brief Walk-through

What is Ruby on Rails? – A brief Walk-through

Ruby is so easy with its knight in shining armor called Rails

Nobody would be aware of the advantages of Ruby if it were not for Rails itself. Ruby would be irrelevant without Rails. Today productive frameworks have reformed the rules of web development. Ruby on Rails is an innovative framework, which includes all the ingredients vital to quickly develop a web application performance. To get a handle on what ‘Ruby on Rails’ is, and how it differs from other frameworks, here is a brief overview.

What is Ruby and Rails?

To understand, “what is Ruby on Rails? - You should have a gist on Ruby, one of the popular programming languages. Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto created Ruby in the mid-1990s. Like C or Java, Ruby is a general-purpose language, but best known for its benefits in web programming. On the other hand, Rails is a software library, which extends the Ruby language. David Heinemeier developed this library and named it “Ruby on Rails” often it is just called “rails”.  

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What is Ruby on Rails?

Ruby on Rails is software code built on top of Ruby. Technically, it is defined as a package library called RubyGem, installed using the command line interface of the operating system. Ruby on Rails is an open-source web development framework, which provides Ruby developers a timesaving alternative to develop code. It is a collection of code libraries, which offer a ready-made solution for repetitive tasks like developing tables, forms or menus on the website.

It combines the Ruby programming language with JavaScript, HTML, and CSS to develop web apps that execute on a web server. Since it runs on the webserver, Ruby on Rails is categorized as back-end or server-side web application development platform. Ruby on Rails is like PHP on Laravel and Symfony, or as a Python on Django. The major appeal of Ruby on Rails towards the developers lies beneath the compactness and elegance of the language. It is designed to support agile development to deliver productivity and flexibility for development teams.

Ruby on Rails Popularity

Is Ruby on Rails dead? It is common to have this question, since it is really old. However, by considering the continuous changes in the market technology, Ruby on Rails is an extremely mature technology and makes perfect sense to adopt it in certain applications. According to Similartech.com, currently over 390,300 websites are using Ruby on Rails and there are 252,210 unique domains. The following image highlights the top industry verticals, which are using Ruby on Rails:top industry verticals using Ruby on Rails:

Here is a list of Ruby on Rails empowered websites that stands as an inspiration in many ways:

  • GitHub – Platform that brings together the developers community to discover, share and develop better software
  • Airbnb - Online marketplace and accommodation sharing site
  • Basecamp – Company that host project management and team communication software
  • CafePress – Online gift shop specialized in user-customized, on-demand products
  • Apartable – Platform for finding apartment matching & suggestion service for renters
  • Crunchbase – Leading destination for finding business details about public and private companies

Key Characteristics of Ruby on Rails

Most of the programming languages like JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and SQL don’t cover both back-end and front-end. However, Ruby on Rails programming language encompasses both ends and allows the developers to build a complete web application. Based on the Ruby programming language, Rails has revolutionized the web development world through its practical approach. With Ruby on Rails, every function, which you want for app development is at your fingertips – you can extract what you require to proceed ahead. Let us explore some key characteristics of Ruby on Rails that makes it unique from other languages and frameworks:

1. MVC Architecture

Ruby on Rails is based on the Model, View and Controller pattern, the widely used web application architecture. Hence, developers who are familiar with other frameworks using MVC patterns can find ease using Ruby on Rails. With this architecture, it separates codes of different functions, i.e. presentation layer, data layer and maintaining a resource layer.

2. Active Record

Ruby on Rails relies on the robust and powerful library called active record, which makes it easy for developers design the database interaction queries. This is because they are writing the query in Ruby programming language itself, which is then automatically converted into a SQL query, that receives the output and returns an object. The active record library can accomplish most of the task; hence, it is very rare to develop a query in SQL.

3. Convention over Configuration

Ruby on Rails avoids configuration files to spare conventions, reflection as well as dynamic runtime extensions. The idea behind the “Convention over Configuration” is assigning value automatically without user intervention. Some software systems, including Java web application frameworks, require multiple config files, each with several settings which is very tedious. The convention feature increases productivity since you don't need to spend time setting up config files. It saves you from spending time on thinking about where stuff goes & what name to assign.

4. Simple Testing Tool

Ruby on Rails also comes with a unit testing setup called RSpec, which is very easy to learn. Since it is plain Ruby, you can use it to test the functions employed in the application by separately calling them. It helps you to ensure your application has been tested properly.

5. Automated Deployment

Ruby on Rails includes libraries to allow the code to proceed to production with less efforts & reduced time. With just an initial one-time setup, it deploys every change you have done to the production with just a single line on command interface.

6. Simple Programming Language

The Syntax of Ruby on rail is simple, concise, closer to English language & flexible. Ruby is an object-oriented programming language, which allows you to create virtual objects in your code. The figure below compares a simple Hello World code in Ruby with the same with PHP, another similar scripting language:

PHP  RUBY
echo "Hello World"; puts "Hello World"

 

In PHP, to print the word, Hello World on your browser screen, you have to use a semicolon as well as the command “echo”.

To achieve the same thing, Ruby allows you to use the more spoken-language like “puts” command and no need of the semicolon. In the same way, Ruby programming language saves your time and enhances efficiency in writing long and complex functions.

Rails also helps you to write simple commands in the HTML, CSS and JavaScript document. As the syntax of ruby close to the English, it is always easier to structure your thinking and writing it into code.

Limitations of Ruby on Rails

Just as with other programming languages and frameworks, Ruby on Rails also includes some negative factors and drawbacks. Here are some of the limitations with Ruby on Rails:

1. Obscurity due to Convention

One of the major delights of coding is that it explains everything that happens in an app. If you are aware of where to explore, you will find the source of any action. Besides the advantages of convention over configuration to beginners, it adds obscurity to skilled programmers. For example, with the absence of the configuration file, there is no code, which discloses that data from a class named “chapter” is saved to a table named “book”.

2. Boot Speed

Most developers who are working in Ruby on Rails state that the boot speed of the framework is not up to the expectation. Based on the number of files and dependencies, Ruby on Rails requires a substantial amount of time to start. This problem influences the performance of the developers.

3. Multi-threading

Ruby on Rails supports Multithreading. Hence, if you are not cautious, requests will be queued up at the back of the active request. This can cause performance issues.

By understanding, what is Ruby on Rails, you can get a clearer picture of why it is the ideal choice for several companies developing web apps. It is still competing with the popular programming languages available today. Therefore, it is worth to look out for Ruby on Rails programming language, as it still ranks among the popular frameworks. And with the developments it is showing, even in the future, it will remain a great choice for your development requirements.

 

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