Since its inception in 2004,
Ruby on Rails has increased
in popularity on its way
to becoming a mainstay in
the Web design world.
The reason for this is easy to understand;
Ruby on Rails is a flexible Web
application framework that allows
developers to focus on driving their
website or application to its full
potential rather than getting stuck
in the mud bringing their site to
fruition. For developers concerned
with software compatibility, Ruby on
Rails is able to be installed on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux
operating systems, which caters to a variety of developing platforms.
In other words, the Rails framework makes getting the
job done much easier.
Ruby on Rails’ strength as a framework lies in its meticulously
honed and tested tool set that tackles a lot of the problems
that Web developers face when creating a site. Normally, Web
development is tasked with two objectives when designing
1. Designing a website, and
2. Creating the tools to make the website interactive.
The second task is one that causes problems. One option
for developers is to create their own tools; but this is especially
time consuming. Ruby on Rails does away with this problem
by providing a proven and expansive tool set that is varied in
depth and breadth.
Yet another strength of Ruby
on Rails is right in its name: Ruby.
Ruby is a robust programming
language around which the entire
Rails framework is built. While
this might not sound like much,
this streamlines the Web design
process. When different developers
come together as a team
“speaking” different languages
(PHP, .NET and Python, for example),
accomplishing even the
most menial of tasks becomes
much more difficult. The Rails
framework alleviates this problem
by allowing an entire design team
to speak the same language.
The Rails framework is also lauded for its implementation
of the Model View Controller, or MVC. The MVC divides
design into three sections:
1. The backbone of a website, such as programming code and
2. What the website looks like to the user.
3. How users interact with the website.
This can be compared to a dish served at a restaurant —
composed of the recipe, the presentation on the plate, and the
taste. Now, imagine changing one aspect of the dish — another
part inevitably changes, too. This is not so with the Rails
framework. Each division in the MVC is compartmentalized in
a way that allows the three divisions of a website to be tweaked
without disrupting the other. The MVC grants great flexibility
to designers, reducing the amount of time rectifying mistakes
caused by editing one aspect of a website, and letting them
continue to move forward in designing the rest of the site.
Ruby on Rails is still a relatively new approach to designing
a website. With the unpredictable nature of the
Internet, there’s no way to be sure that the Rails framework
will withstand the test of time. However, with sites like Twitter,
Groupon, NYTimes.com and Hulu implementing their
design using this strong framework, it’s safe to say that Ruby
on Rails has its foot in the door and is securing its inclusion
in the future of the Internet.
About the Author: Peter Marino is the Senior Partner of reelWebDesign.com, a social
media marketing and Web design firm in New York City that caters
to content creation for small to mid-sized businesses and micropreneurs.
He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Envy Labs released a free online tutorial called Rails for Zombies. The website combines screencasts with in-browser coding to provide an interactive learning experience that teaches the basics of Ruby on Rails. Learning Rails for the first time should be fun, and Rails for Zombies allows you to get your feet wet without any setup or configuration. At the moment the application has five episodes. Each consists of a single screencast followed by a group of exercises that must be completed before moving forward. Once you complete all the labs, you unlock a hidden video which shows you where to go to continue your Rails education.