The Ruby on Rails Test Drive

I just had a few weeks off from school and work, so I thought I’d take a look at Ruby on Rails, which has been the “next big thing” in web programming for over a year now. Two books and over a month later, I can say that I’ve been impressed with that test drive and I think I’ll devote some more time to learning more about how to use it. As a test project, I’m working on re-writing Quotational using Ruby on Rails to get some experience beyond just typing in some example code from books.

I enjoy the structure that Rails offers, and that way it has of making web programming fun again. I’ve used PHP for several years now, and I find myself rewriting things continuously just to make things better. While this has certainly made me a better programmer, the steeper learning curve of Rails lets me do more in a shorter period of time although the degree of difficulty is higher. Rails brings a common framework with it, and one that seems to be more accepted in my experience than any PHP framework that I’ve worked with.

So far, the major drawback has been the availability of free resources for the Rails newbie, although this is a problem that is increasingly getting smaller. My initial impetus to take that first step toward learning Ruby on Rails was an offer for a free PDF book from Sitepoint, a deal that has since expired but is still definitely worth paying money for. That book was a great resource for me, and I’ve since gone on to buy a similar book, Agile Web Development with Rails. Those two books provide a lot of the same information, but reading through them both helped me pick up on things that I would have missed otherwise. From here I may not have a lot of time to devote to learning Ruby on Rails, but I definitely plan on continuing that effort.

5 thoughts on “The Ruby on Rails Test Drive

  1. Chad

    I have nothing about RoR and certainly don’t want to get into the typical this language vs. that language flame, but I’m curious…

    Other than Fusebox, which PHP frameworks have you used? Did you have a bad experience with them? I’m finally forcing myself to learn CakePHP, and so far I’ve been impressed.

    Not that I’m trying to woo you back. After all, there is something to be said for adding a new language to the resumé 🙂

  2. Alex Post author

    Other than Fusebox the only one I spent more than a few hours with was CakePHP, which I rather like. I guess the only problem is that I don’t often code my own sites from scratch, and so I get frustrated with poor programming techniques on sites that I work on. I highly recommend CakePHP, especially because it seems to have a strong following.

    And don’t worry, I’m not planning on ditching PHP altogether, it’s just time to try something new. I even installed Gallery and WordPress yesterday on our family website at (I had to drop Drupal because of spam problems that I didn’t have time to work through).

  3. Chad

    I’m just starting to evaluate CakePHP and like it very much. Love the scaffolding and bake. I think I’ll also try the Zend Framework too, just to have a point of comparison. I’d be interested to hear about your thoughts with RoR as compared to CakePHP.

    Will you write Ruby with a text editor or an IDE?

  4. Alex Post author

    I’ve just been using BBEdit so far with Rails, and it’s worked out okay. I’ve seen a few screencasts of people using TextMate and that intrigues me a bit (it seems like everyone uses TextMate with Rails).

    Jimmy Zimmerman is a fellow BYU Information systems grad, and he has a few good posts about CakePHP and Rails on his blog. I’ll try to write some of my own thoughts down soon.

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