Web development has come a long way since the early days of the Internet, and with each passing year, new frameworks emerge to streamline and simplify the process of building dynamic websites and applications.
One such framework that has gained immense popularity is Ruby on Rails (RoR). Known for its elegance, simplicity, and productivity, Ruby on Rails has revolutionized web development by providing developers with a powerful toolset to create robust, scalable, and maintainable web applications.
In this blog post, we will delve into the world of Ruby on Rails, exploring its history, key features, advantages, and use cases. Whether you’re a beginner developer looking to learn a new framework or a seasoned professional seeking to enhance your skills, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge to harness the full potential of Ruby on Rails.
What is a framework?
Before we dive into Ruby on Rails, it’s essential to grasp the concept of a framework. In web development, a framework is a pre-written, reusable set of code that provides a foundation for building web applications. It offers a structured approach, reducing the need for developers to reinvent the wheel and allowing them to focus on the specific functionalities and unique aspects of their projects.
A Brief History of Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails, often referred to as Rails, was created by David Heinemeier Hansson, a Danish programmer, and was first released in 2004. Inspired by the principle of Convention over Configuration, Rails aimed to provide developers with a framework that prioritizes simplicity and productivity. Built using the Ruby programming language, Rails quickly gained traction and became renowned for its developer-friendly syntax and rapid application development capabilities.
What exactly is Ruby on Rails?
Ruby is a general-purpose, dynamic, interpreted language for object-oriented programming (OOP). But, developing new software with only Ruby is an uphill task, and this is why a specific tool was designed to streamline the process of development – Rails.
RoR provides a pre-made solution to allow developers to save time and effort on repetitive tasks. The tasks include making menus for websites, adding forms and tables.
In essence, you don’t have to write every line of code repeatedly. Developers can look into the framework and look for the code to build websites or web applications. This is due to two main principles that are highlighted the Ruby on Rails framework:
- Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY): This idea of software development aims to reduce repetitions of information by abstracting. Automation removes the duplication in processes.
- Convention Over Configuration (CoC): is a software design concept that relies on developing a program using a fundamental language’s functions, procedures, variables, and classes. It is designed to minimize the number of choices an application developer must make and reduce the complexity when configuring each area of web application development.
It was developed to simplify the process of programming web applications, allowing developers to build websites of any complexity. This also marks the start of the enormous growth of Ruby and the rise of Ruby on Rails companies that realized its capabilities, which included us.
Basic concepts of Ruby on Rails
To understand Ruby on Rails (RoR) effectively, it’s essential to grasp some of the basic concepts that underpin the framework’s design and philosophy. Let’s explore these fundamental concepts:
1. Model-View-Controller (MVC) Architecture:
Ruby on Rails follows the Model-View-Controller architectural pattern. This design pattern separates the application into three interconnected components:
- Model: Represents the data and business logic of the application. Models encapsulate the application’s data structure, define relationships between different entities, and handle data validation.
- View: Handles the presentation layer of the application. Views are responsible for rendering the user interface and displaying data to users. They are often written using HTML, CSS, and embedded Ruby (ERB) templates, which allow dynamic content generation.
- Controller: Acts as an intermediary between the model and the view. Controllers receive user requests, interact with the model to retrieve or modify data, and determine the appropriate view to render as a response.
The MVC architecture promotes separation of concerns, making it easier to manage and maintain code by isolating different aspects of the application’s functionality.
2. Convention over Configuration (CoC)
Ruby on Rails follows the principle of Convention over Configuration. This means that the framework makes assumptions and provides sensible defaults based on widely accepted conventions. By adhering to these conventions, developers can avoid excessive configuration and focus on writing application-specific code.
For example, Rails assumes that the names of database tables and columns follow specific conventions, such as pluralizing table names and using underscores for column names. By adhering to these conventions, developers can avoid explicitly specifying these details in their code.
3. Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) Principle
Ruby on Rails encourages the DRY principle, which advocates for code reuse and reduction of duplication. The framework provides tools and conventions that promote code reuse, such as the use of partial views, reusable helper methods, and inheritance between controllers and models.
By following the DRY principle, developers can write less code, reduce redundancy, and make maintenance and updates more efficient.
In Ruby on Rails, routing maps incoming requests to specific controller actions. The routing system helps determine which controller and action should handle a particular URL. By configuring routes, developers define the URLs and HTTP methods that trigger specific actions within the application.
Routes can be defined using a concise and expressive syntax, making it easy to create RESTful routes that adhere to best practices.
5. Gems and Plugins
Ruby on Rails has a vibrant ecosystem of gems and plugins. Gems are prepackaged libraries that provide additional functionalities for Rails applications. Developers can leverage gems to extend the framework’s capabilities, integrate with third-party services, or implement specific features more efficiently.
Plugins, on the other hand, are modular pieces of code that can be added to a Rails application to enhance its functionality. They are typically smaller in scope than gems and can be developed and maintained independently.
These basic concepts form the foundation of Ruby on Rails and provide developers with a solid understanding of the framework’s philosophy and structure. By leveraging these concepts, developers can build robust and maintainable web applications efficiently.
What exactly is Ruby on Rails used for?
The primary objective of Ruby is to create new web platforms that are high-performance quickly. But, there’s no definitive answer to what Ruby can use because, as with any general-purpose programming language, Ruby is appropriate for various tasks. Any web development company wouldn’t treat code as something that exists outside of the business goals of a project. Each programming language and every technology stack were designed to address specific issues. Therefore, based on the purpose, RoR may or may not be the ideal option for your website (but rather yes than no).
Ruby and Rails apps are most widely used in the following fields of web development:
- Projects involving a wide range of complex functions;
- Large projects requiring drastic transformations;
- Long-term projects that pass through continuous variations in parameters;
- Projects that have heavy traffic;
- Little, quick projects to develop prototypes & MVPs.
- E-commerce, i.e. online stores with sophisticated options.
- Informational portals.
- Stock exchange platforms.
- Social networks.
- Non-standard complex projects.
When not to use Ruby on Rails?
There aren’t any rigid rules in this area. However, sure developers don’t recommend Ruby Rails on Rails when it comes to the following scenarios:
- No drastic transformations in the project;
- A project with limited functionality and uniform operations;
- No need for immediate decisions;
- Your project requires low resource consumption.
What is the reason Ruby on Rails popular?
Ruby on Rails has gained immense popularity in the web development community for several reasons:
- Developer Productivity: Rails’ convention over configuration approach and extensive libraries enable developers to build applications faster with less code, reducing development time and effort.
Due to its simplicity in creating prototypes, Rails can be used in small-scale businesses, non-profit organizations, and large corporations. Ruby ranks 11th most popular programming language in the TIOBE index (it indicates how popular the language of particular programming is, based on SERP’s results), ahead of earlier results.
The number of live websites and platforms built with Ruby on Rails is more than 1 million worldwide (with more than 4 million that have existed), and the number is increasing.
- Community Support: RoR has a vibrant and active community that contributes to its continuous improvement. The community-driven nature ensures regular updates, bug fixes, and a wealth of resources and plugins.
The Stack Overflow Developer Survey calls Ruby the 14th most popular programming language globally, with 7.1% of participants being Ruby on Rails developers.
- Testing and Quality Assurance: Rails has built-in testing frameworks that make it easier to write and execute tests, ensuring robust and error-free applications.
A feature of Ruby on Rails
As we all know, the majority of the languages, such as Java, HTML, CSS, etc., do not cover both the front and back end. They are either designed for only the front end or the back end. However, Ruby on Rails builds both the front and back end. It’s a complete solution to making a web application. A few of the key features to be found in Ruby on Rails are:
ActiveRecord is the ORM component of Ruby on Rails. It provides an intuitive and efficient way to interact with databases, allowing developers to work with database records using Ruby code instead of writing complex SQL queries.
Key features of ActiveRecord include:
- Object-Relational Mapping: ActiveRecord maps database tables to Ruby objects, allowing developers to interact with data using object-oriented programming concepts. Each table in the database is represented by a Ruby class, and each record is represented by an instance of that class. This abstraction makes it easier to work with databases and perform CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations.
- Database Abstraction: ActiveRecord provides a database-agnostic layer, allowing developers to switch between different database systems (such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, etc.) without having to change their application code significantly. This flexibility simplifies database management and allows developers to focus on application logic rather than database-specific details.
- Associations: ActiveRecord offers a rich set of associations to establish relationships between database tables. Associations include one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many relationships. With associations, developers can define relationships such as belongs_to, has_many, has_one, and has_and_belongs_to_many, making it easy to navigate and query related data.
- Validation and Callbacks: ActiveRecord provides a range of validation helpers to ensure data integrity and consistency. Developers can define validations for attributes, such as presence, uniqueness, length, and custom validations. Additionally, ActiveRecord offers callbacks that allow developers to hook into specific events in the lifecycle of a record, such as before_save, after_create, and many others, enabling the execution of custom logic at various stages.
- Query Interface: ActiveRecord offers a clean and expressive query interface known as Active Record Query Interface (ARel). This interface allows developers to build complex database queries using Ruby methods, making it more readable and less error-prone than writing raw SQL queries. ARel provides methods for filtering, sorting, joining tables, and composing queries dynamically.
- Migrations: Ruby on Rails includes a robust migration system that simplifies database schema management. Developers can define migrations as Ruby files, specifying changes to the database schema over time. Migrations handle the creation, modification, and deletion of tables, columns, and indices, making it easy to version and maintain the database schema alongside the application code.
Advantages of Ruby on Rails
Recently, the cybersecurity issue has become a hot issue for many companies. The alarming data that are provided by Cybint Solutions show that 64% of businesses have experienced cyber-attacks on the web, and 62% of firms have suffered social engineering and phishing attacks.
The following chart shows that the latter kind of cybersecurity problem mainly targets SaaS, financial institutions, and e-commerce sites.
This is the reason when you choose a new technology. It is essential to think about the security of your future solution.
The built-in security mechanisms of Ruby on Rails guarantee that an application or web page made with its help is resistant to vulnerabilities and prevents the following common threats:
- Cross-Site Scripting;
- SQL Injection;
- Cross-Site Request Forgery;
- Insecure Direct Object Reference or Forceful Browsing.
Use of Simplicity
This technology’s syntax is very straightforward, concise, and easy to understand, ensuring the best usability for programmers.
Ruby on Rails developers can write less code, which speeds up the development of online applications. Through the framework readability, there are no grounds to add comments. As a result, code is becoming easier to comprehend for engineers.
Furthermore, because all Rails projects follow the same rules and philosophy, programmers can switch from one Rails project to the other at any phase during development.
High Development Speed
The framework provides many free open-source libraries referred to as gems. They can extend or adjust the existing functionality of web applications and help with various joint problems. It doesn’t matter which feature you’d like to add, and with a high likelihood, you will find the perfect solution.
Today, the quantity of Ruby gems has surpassed the 158700+ with more than 48 billion downloaded.
Alongside tools, it offers coders a variety of library extensions and utility classes. Active Support, which aims to develop both Rails applications and its technology.
The high development speed is among the main reasons startups choose Ruby on Rails. This software helps them speed up the MVP creation process and develop an excellent web application on a budget.
Active Community and Support
Ruby on Rails has a dedicated and passionate community of developers who actively contribute to the framework’s development and improvement. This active community ensures regular updates, bug fixes, and security patches. It also provides a wealth of resources, tutorials, and forums where developers can seek guidance, share knowledge, and find solutions to common challenges.
Easy Implementation of Business Logic
Implementing complicated business logic into a web application isn’t an issue with Ruby in Rails. For instance, developers will quickly build it if your application requires an API. You have to add a front-end framework such as Vue or React then you’re done. Your web application is now ready
Compatibility with Front-end Frameworks
We’re witnessing the increasing popularity of front-end platforms like React, Vue, and Angular. These frameworks are frequently employed in conjunction with Ruby on Rails due to the ease of integration with RoR. You can choose any framework you want and create front-end components quickly and easily.
Disadvantages of Ruby on Rails
Performance and Speed of the Runtime
Both of these parameters are vital for the app’s success. With a myriad of apps on the market, customers are becoming more concerned, and they expect websites to load fast and smoothly.
A Google study has shown that every second delay lowers the number of pages viewed.
The runtime speed isn’t the most appealing feature for Ruby on Rails, and it is undoubtedly sufficient for smaller applications that do not have millions of users and massive traffic. However, when creating a practical project, it could be a problem.
However, the latest versions of Ruby on Rails include significant improvements in terms of security, brand new options, and enhanced performance.
One of the essential features that have been added is the ability to support multiple concurrent database connections. This means that RoR programmers can enhance efficiency by using two databases to divide the work between them
Ruby on Rails is suitable for standard web applications with a strong dependency between modules and components. However, customizing an application with specific features could be a challenge when talking about an application with specific features.
The configuring routing, database migrations, and other elements can make the process of making the product take more time. This means that you must select between its originality and development time.
In the past couple of years, it has seen an overall decline in Ruby on Rails popularity. If we look at the stats from Google Trends, we can observe a lack of interest in this framework.
Despite the increase in developers and the community that supports them, the framework isn’t as widely utilized as Laravel for PHP or Django for Python. The reason for this lies in the fact that it is known for its arduous learning curve. People proficient in Ruby on Rails as a majority are proficient in at least one or two different programming languages.
For business owners, hiring an experienced Ruby on Rails development agency could be difficult, especially when compared to finding a PHP, Java, or Python web business. At the same time, RoR coders are usually more knowledgeable and skilled.
Future of Ruby on Rails
Every year, new articles come out informing heralding Ruby on Rails’ extinction, where it’s become something of a running joke in the developer community. Why is everyone talking about it? The Ruby programming language was introduced in 1995, and the Rails framework in 2004. Things move at a breakneck pace in web development, with new cutting-edge technology emerging regularly. It’s sometimes owing to the need to solve some new problems. Sometimes it’s simply because something is popular. Developers, like everyone else, are inclined to be drawn by new and intriguing trends from time to time.
The question: “**Is Ruby on Rails dead?” **is a popular “buzz” topic in the technology and web development worlds, but the truth is that it is far from dead. One might argue that Ruby on Rails is thriving due to its stability and superior performance in various environments.
This framework, however, might not be the ideal fit for your project. Speak with an app development partner if you want to learn more about Ruby on Rails and discover if it’s the appropriate fit for your project. They can not only assist you in determining which technology is suitable for your project, but they can also provide guidance based on their industry experience and technical knowledge.
Choosing a Ruby on Rails web development company?
When it comes to building a Ruby on Rails web application, choosing the right development company is crucial. Consider the following factors while selecting a Ruby on Rails web development company:
- Experience and Expertise: Look for a company with a proven track record in Ruby on Rails development and a team of skilled professionals well-versed in the framework.
- Portfolio and References: Review the company’s portfolio and client testimonials to assess their previous work and client satisfaction.
- Communication and Collaboration: Ensure the company maintains open communication channels and follows a collaborative approach, involving you in the development process.
We hope that we’ve explained why Ruby on Rails nowadays and have listed its significant advantages and disadvantages. We employ the most well-known Ruby on Rails development practices and cutting-edge technologies to build products that perform flawlessly.
Our Ruby on Rails developers at Relia Software who are dedicated to completing your projects in the fastest and most cost-effective way. Contact us today to learn how we can help your company succeed.
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