Ryan Lanciaux

Random programming blog.

Diving Into Ruby on Rails

This past weekend I started really digging into Ruby on Rails.  For a while now, I have known a little bit of ruby (by reading Why's Poignant Guide and messing around a little with Rails), however, I wanted to have a much stronger understanding in it – even if it's only for the concepts. 

Why Rails – Why Now?

Rails has been publicly available since July 2004; some may ask why I am just now becoming interested in the framework. There are actually several main reasons…

  1. It is a good educational resource in the MVC Pattern. This applies to many implementations such as Microsoft MVC, Symfony and Cake on PHP and a whole slew of other frameworks.
  2. Rails is becoming a more viable option with JRuby and the forthcoming releases of IronRuby.
  3. The concept of DB Migrations is very nice – especially when you have encountered the difficulty involved in placing your database under source control.


Setting up the environment

  1. I needed to configure my computer to run the rails apps. NetBeans seemed like a good idea to me because of the simple JRuby integration (other options Aptana Studio, Eclipse, your favorite text editor w/ Instant rails). 
  2. I already had MySql installed on my computer so there was no need to set up a database server (Sqlite was a tempting option as well).
  3. Created a series of databases (as needed) for the various test rails apps to write to.
  4. Downloaded and installed MySqlYog Community edition. I knew I was going to be handling most of my database stuff with the Rails ActiveRecord implementation and db migrations BUT I still wanted to see what was going on inside the db.


Initial Impressions

After the initial hour or so of setting up my environment, I wrote some quick test applications (following some tutorials, at first obviously). I really liked the principle of Convention over Configuration.  This was apparent in many areas of the framework such as the generator / rake tools and the easy application configuration in the .yaml files. I can see how this may not be the best choice for certain applications but for a lot of web applications, it seems like it will be a good fit.