Ruby on Rails from Scratch
Are you interested in building a web applications? Did you ever wonder who web applications are built and deployed onto the loud? Are you piqued by the growing popularity of web services, and want to dabble in them too?
If your answer to any of the above questions, you have already done your own research into the subject. You may have dabbled a little in C# or Java, and realized that there is a lot to learn and understand in order to become proficient in any of them. You may have realized that the all-popular web services that you’re interested in are too complicated to be integrated in a web application. As for deploying web applications, you may have found out that there is a lot to set up for it to get going.
This course is the perfect stepping stone into the world of web application building, focused on one of the best web application frameworks to start out with: Ruby on Rails. The framework is designed for rapid prototyping, and this takes you through the basics and concepts, and gives you the necessary knowledge and skills to pull off your own web application.
What is Ruby?
Ruby is one of the older programming languages, created two decades ago. It is among the top ten most popular programming languages by most measures, though it is usually ranked towards the end of the list. Most of its popularity these days also stems from the popularity of the Rails framework. Ruby, like C language or Java, is an all-purpose programming language, but is most popularly used for web programming.
What is Rails?
Rails is basically a software library that extends Ruby, created by David Heinemeier Hansson. It is called ‘Ruby on Rails’, ‘RoR’, or just ‘Rails’ in many cases. It is a software code addition to the Ruby programming language. In technical terms, it is a package library or ‘RubyGem’ installed with the command-line interface of the operating system.
Rails is used as a website development framework, and it is sets conventions for easier maintenance and collaboration, codified as the Rails application programming interface (API). The Rails API essentially provides directives to control the code. It is documented on the internet and described in a lot of places. Learning Ruby on Rails from scratch involves learning how to use the API and the Rails conventions.
In a larger senses, Rails less of an API and more of a software library. It is a central project involving a huge community producing software libraries and codes that simplifies site-building. Members of this Rails community share many of the core values, support each other and often use the same set of tools.
Why opt for Ruby?
Ruby is popular in the programming world for its uncluttered, to-the-point syntax that does not require a lot of repetition or punctuation, like Java or PHP. It is more streamlined than Java, requiring less code for the basic structures, like data fields. It is a modern language where it is easier to use meta-programming and other high-level abstractions. Meta-programming in particular eases the development of a domain specific language, customizing Ruby for certain uses. Rails and several other RubyGems use this DSL capability.
RubyGems is the key advantage of Ruby. It is the package manager that eases the development and sharing of software libraries or gems that can extend the capabilities of Ruby. It is a simple system for gem installation. Anyone can create and upload their gems on the RubyGems website. The gem is then available to be downloaded and installed by any user. You will also find the latest version of Rails from the RubyGems website, along with all necessary gems to develop complex websites.
Of courses, Ruby is not perfect. It does have its disadvantages. For one, it is slower to process than Java or C++. However, for a programmer, a language’s processing speed is not always as important as the benefits in productivity and performance that they gain. Also, Ruby is not as well-suited for complex software engineering that requires efficiently executing simultaneous activity. Another common complaint is that Ruby programs have too many complex operations conducted through simple directives.
Studying Ruby before Rails
Should you study Ruby, the programming language, before you learn Rails, the framework? Well, the short answer to this question is NO. But it is a good idea to just introduce yourself to Ruby and its syntax so that you are not too overwhelmed by the first experience of Ruby on Rails from scratch. You should be able to recognize current and incorrect formatting when typing Ruby on your text editor.
As you develop proficiency on Rails, though, you will have to pick up Ruby too. You need to develop your Ruby skills as you practice and utilize Rails. Because Rails is a DSL, it has its own directives that is separate from the Ruby core. A key challenge for you would be to learn the structure names that you see in the code examples, and introducing yourself briefly to Ruby should be helpful in this process. You need to be able to understand whether you are looking at a hash or array, or a block syntax or iterator. As you get more practice, you will be able to identify more complex and less-common formulations, like a lambda function. You do not have to write or even know when to use a lambda function, though. Most developers start learning Rails before they master Ruby.
While this course takes you through Ruby on Rails from scratch, it is important to supplement your knowledge and training in whatever ways you can. If you see some concepts or things about Ruby that you are not clear about, reach out and find out what it is. Go through more textbooks and short courses to get more proficient with the framework. If you love programming languages, take a deep dive into Ruby itself. But do not delay your study of Rails while you learn more about Ruby. You will retain a lot more knowledge on Ruby if you learn it along with Rails.
Why opt for Rails?
Rails has earned its popularity because of its precise and pervasive conventions. Web applications have complex requirements including basic functions, like generation of HTML, accessing a database and processing form submissions. Without a framework, programmers have to take on the implementation of all the infrastructure.
Rails is popular because it was developed to follow one certain way of implement most of the infrastructure that a web application needs. Hansson and the core developer team considers this the best way of implementation, and many of the implementation elements seem arbitrary. Some have even criticized the core developers of being autocratic in their approach to making improvements to Rails. However, there is no denying that the Rails API is a great approach to implementing a web application framework’s requirements. Developers who learn this ‘Rails way’ can produce web applications that other rails developers can work on and understand more quickly. This makes development faster and collaboration quicker. And there is a lot of support for Rails too, with a huge pool of open-source libraries available for enhancing Rails.
Rails also matches well with agile software development practices, especially with its focus on ‘convention over configuration’ and software testing. This idea of ‘configuration over convention’ is something that you will encounter a lot as you learn Ruby on Rails from scratch and beyond. It forms an integral part of the Rails ‘philosophy’ and guiding principles.
Rails is hailed and criticized for being ‘opinionated’, with its own Rails way. In contrast, programming language like Perl or PHP were non-opinionated, which means there was no particularly way to use it best. You could use the languages however you wanted to, but it would be difficult to gain the consistency that you get with Rails.
Ruby on Rails Course Curriculum
Section 1: Introduction
This article provides an introduction to Ruby on Rails, looking into its development philosophy and guidelines, its ‘convention over configuration’ concept and opinionated structure. The section also provides guidelines on how to set up Ruby on Rails in your computer and get it up and running. Finally, it ends with the directory structure of the Rails application, giving you all that you need to explore Ruby on Rails further.
Section 2: Directories
This section specifically focuses on Rails directories. The directory contains configuration code required by your application. These include database.yml for your database configuration, routes.rb for routing incoming web requests and environment.rb for your Rails environment structure.
Section 3: Environment Modes on Ruby on Rails
The section focuses on environment modes and settings. Ruby on Rails has three environments: development, production and test. Each of these environments are used to configure the Rails framework.
Section 4: Files Creations
The section gets you more familiar with the Rails command line and generator, showing you how to create and manage files. When you create an application with the Rails command, you are using a generator. You can find a lot more generators available on Rails.
Section 5: Ruby on Rails Servers
With the files created, it is time to start the Rails server. This is the next section of the course. You can quickly create a web server called WEBrick, but this is not the only option with Rails. This section explores that in more detail.
Section 6: Hello Rails
This final section brings a close to the entire process, showing you how to create your first every Rails application. Apply the steps and knowledge you learned in the above section and go through both videos to create a nice little application, and take your first step into Rails development.
The course covers the basic concepts of Ruby on Rails and the reasons for its popularity. You do not need to come to this course with a technical background, since technical terms are explained and introduced in layman’s language. For experienced web developers, you get an introduction to specifics of Ruby on Rails, like environment modes and directories.
- You should have a reliable computer and internet connection
- You should know your way around the internet and should have good computer skills
- Previous knowledge of Ruby or any programming language would be an advantage
This course is designed for the following target audience:
- Students and professionals interested in learn server-side or backend web development
- Web development professionals looking to get a basic understand of specific Rails concepts, and a comprehensive understanding of Rails basics
Ruby on Rails FAQs – General Questions
- Is this course for me?
This course is for this anyone interested in learning Ruby on Rails right from scratch, or for those who want to get a clear and concise understanding of the basic concepts and elements of Ruby on Rails. If you have the interest to learn Ruby on Rails, or want to explore the world of web development for the first time, this should be a suitable course.
- Is there a particular order to follow?
If you have never developed a Rails application before and want to learn how to, then it is best to follow the course right from the first video to the last. If you already have some understanding of Ruby on Rails and want to learn a particular part of Rails, you can follow the section that you are interested in.
- Where would I apply this?
The Ruby on Rails from scratch course is the perfect stepping point into the world of web development. It gives you the knowledge needed to build your own basic Rails web application. From here on, it is just a matter of constant practice and learning more advanced concepts of Rails, and pretty soon you can be a serious Rails developer.
I wanted to learn Rails, and this course seemed like the best way to start my journey. And boy, was it the right call! The course taught me everything I need to start practicing Ruby on Rails. Now I’m starting to explore more complex applications and am pretty close to developing my first real-world application with Rails!
A few months ago I thought of a great idea for a web application. Since then, I’ve been trying to learn more about web development so that I can build it or, at the very least, guide its development in the closest possible way. This course was great, since it got me to learn how applications are built and, more important, it helped me make changes to my idea to make it even better.
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