App Development Frameworks: Ruby on Rails
There’s a sensitive beauty to the format that the software development world abides by.
This “format”, that is to say, is how there’s never really a guaranteed one-hit-wonder tool that breaks down every barrier, solves every problem, and molds to every specification. There’s no killer app for design. That there would ever be something that answers the call for every action, every equation, and every issue demeans how intricate and complicated software development truly is.
The point is that a developer’s toolbox may require one or several different types of programming languages, frameworks, applications, or virtually any tool imaginable to get the job done. A single wrench isn’t the perfect fit for every bolt, nor is every software program suitable for everything needed to design a functional website. There are too many variables for that.
Rooting through every everything that a software engineer can use to build their website in a single article isn’t what you’re interested in reading about, though. That’s infeasible and, quite frankly, a lot of work for something no one would read. What you’re here for, and what we’ll be talking about, is about one app development framework in particular that can serve anyone: Ruby on Rails.
We’ll try to keep it short, sweet, and thorough.
What Is Ruby on Rails?
In its broadest, vaugest term, Ruby on Rails is an app development framework for developers. To specify, the intention for this particular toolset is to provide developers with an easily manipulatable structure for their code while they write. Rather than try to knock out a website from scratch with little more than a computer and gumption, utilizing a framework like Ruby on Rails helps ensure the project proceeds smoothly and easily.
Ruby on Rails isn’t the only app development framework you’ll be able to find on the web, far from it. The question you’re sure to be asking now is, “What makes the Ruby on Rails framework a distinct commodity from its competition?” Thankfully, there’s a simple answer much like it’s function: Ruby on Rails is defined by its simplicity and usability.
Complexity of programming language doesn’t mean greater utility or versatility in execution. The more convoluted code gets, the more likely you’ll run into bugs, kinks, and glitches along the way. A Ruby on Rails developer, however, can create the same level quality website as any other framework can provide with less hassle. You can install it with a minimal number of code lines, allowing you to build something functional painlessly, effortlessly, and quickly.
By focusing on simplicity and ease of use, the Ruby on Rails framework frees up software developers time and resources in the process. And easily created website results in reduced workloads, promoting work satisfaction, productivity, and employee wellness, while providing them with the means to concentrate on building features into the site.
A Brief History of Ruby on Rails
While not integral to understanding the detailed intricacies of Ruby on Rails, it’s always important to have a base understanding of where it came from.
Ruby on Rails was created by David Heinemeier Hansson in December, 2005. Originally extracted from the work he had been doing on Basecamp, a project management tool, Ruby on Rails was released as open source software, which it continues to be to this day, 15 years later. Since then, Ruby on Rails has gone through several versions, most recently releasing Ruby on Rails 6.0 on August 16, 2019. Much to everyone’s benefit, David continues personally working with contributors to create continually better versions of this valuable piece of software.
What Is a Framework?
As we mentioned briefly, frameworks are used to help organize and structure your programming code for building better sites. We want to go into a little more depth about what that means for the working process. For starters, a framework is more than just an outline of what goes where- it’s an entire collection of necessities. Comprised of code, tools, and various utilities, frameworks combine its assets to design specific structures for Ruby on Rails developers while writing software.
Now, frameworks can fall into a few different categories: model-view-controller (MVC), push-based vs. pull-based, or three-tier organization. Each of these serve their own purposes, but the only one we’re concerned about is the push-based vs. pull-based style framework, as that’s the one Ruby on Rails falls under.
A push-based vs. pull-based framework is an architectural pattern derived from MVC, wherein data processing and rendering is done through action-based means. Essentially, Ruby on Rails performs actions that require processing and then push that data to the view layer, where the user can then interact with what is on screen.
Benefits of Ruby on Rails in Software Development
Saying that Ruby on Rails is great and useful isn’t enough. Surely, you’re more interested in the concrete examples of what Ruby on Rails brings to the table. What can it do? Why is it so good? What makes it useful for developing websites? What are the benefits that Ruby on Rails offers to any software developers considering laying their hands on it? Valid questions, valid concerns.
We can safely and confidently name five distinct reasons why Ruby on Rails is worth the time and effort it takes to successfully utilize as a viable app development framework for your website:
- Time Efficiency
- Developer Community/Ecosystem
It’s Time Efficient: Faster Programming
Part of one of the benefits we’ve harped on is how much time using Ruby on Rails saves you, a developer, during each working day. Some of this can be attributed to a couple of the other factors on the list, namely simplicity, but faster programming is more than just having an easier to use system. What Ruby on Rails really succeeds at is answering what you need before you need it.
That is to say, decision making slows the programming process down. A part of the Ruby on Rails philosophy is that it’s an opinionated framework. With years of open source developers putting their minds to work, along with a community working to improve it, the voice of the people can be heard. The voice of people, in many ways, define the convention of how Ruby on Rails will work to its best capacity.
What does this convention mean? Basically, decisions are made so you don’t have to make them. With an established convention baked into Ruby on Rails, the decisions you’d have to make using other frameworks are already done away with. You don’t have to bother with the hassle of every minutiae. By the order of convention, your programming work can be effectively accelerated with you barely lifting a finger.
We’re back at the simplicity of Ruby on Rails, as we always will be. Normally we’d like to avoid hitting the nail on the head too many times, but the ease of use that Ruby on Rails provides is too good to not gush about. Too much information, tools, indiscernible syntax, and bulky code can bring an entire framework down… which is why Ruby on Rails avoids all that.
With a simple and readable syntax, developers can do more with less code. Ruby on Rails is prepackaged in a sense, wherein a lot of tasks are built-in to work out-of-the-box, immediately available to increase productivity. On this note, the same development practices and structure are used everywhere, allowing more people can join in the coding easily or go from one project to another with no issue.
Simplicity and uniformity make the world go round, so to speak.
One word: free.
There’s not much to say here, really. No purchase, no licensing costs, Ruby on Rails is a free app development framework available to anyone and everyone. You can’t beat free, it’s as cost-effective as you can get.
Great Community and Ecosystem for Developers
Remember how we mentioned that contributors and a community are involved with how Ruby on Rails functions? That much is due to it being open source software, open to the public where anyone is free to study, change, and distribute it with their own additions and modifications. Through the power of collaboration, Ruby on Rails is essentially self-improving.
This means you’re in luck. With an entire community dedicated to working on Ruby on Rails, continually making it better, you’re in no shortage of resources to work with. With plenty of libraries to choose from, you can find all the tools and support that you may need, sourced from a myriad of capable programmers making their mark. You’ll rarely have to develop something from scratch and, even if you do, chances are there’s someone in the community who’d be happy to lend you advice or a hand.
We’ve gone over the virtues of Ruby on Rails enough already. It’s time efficient, it’s simple, it’s cost-effective, and it’s got a great community of contributors backing it up. It may not be the most advanced framework you’ll ever see, but if it’s one thing, it’s reliable. For the past 15 years it’s proven itself to be a popular choice for app development, and for the foreseeable future it’ll stay that way.
Learning a new programming framework and/or language is certainly doable, especially when it comes to Ruby, but it’s easier when you’ve got someone to help you along. If you’re looking to dive into what Ruby on Rails can offer you, iTexico is ready, willing, and happy to lend you the help you need. We’ve got RoRs experts online and ready to assist you. If you’re interested in sourcing some friendly aid, feel free to contact us.
About the Author
Salazar: Aerodynamic, biodegradable, organic, gluten-free, low-calorie and without preservatives back end developer.