Making the Case for Ruby on Rails
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 a website:
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 databases.
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: email@example.com.
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.