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Ruby on Rails is a web application framework that is gaining popularity around the world. In this article, we focus on what makes it popular, as well as give you an introduction to Ruby on Rails.

Computers greatly influence modern life. They run on programs that are constructed using different programming languages. Programming languages are responsible for all programs that have been made. These can include scheduling software, online games, online shopping apps, anti-virus programs; anything you can imagine. Thus, mastering programming languages helps you to understand how all digital technology works. 

What is Ruby on Rails?

Ruby on Rails is a server-side web application framework written in Ruby under the MIT License. Rails is a Model–View–Controller (MVC) framework. It provides default structures for a database, a web service, and web pages.

In essence, Ruby on Rails is a full-stack framework for web development. It comes with the tools developers need to create excellent front- and back-end web apps.

What is the Use of Ruby on Rails?

Ruby on Rails
Image by smartmockups.com

Ruby on Rails can accomplish many functions including:

  • Maintaining live websites through WebSockets
  • Enqueuing jobs for asynchronous work
  • Storing uploads in the cloud
  • Good security defence against typical assaults.

We use this framework to create web apps and services for various businesses. These can include marketing websites, content management systems, and e-commerce sites. Custom online apps are also easy to create. Its ease of use makes it a popular web framework for startups. In this case, small teams can construct applications relatively quickly. 

Let’s take a closer look at the main features of Ruby on Rails.

What Are the Main Features of Ruby on Rails?

Rails is based on the Ruby programming language. It has changed the world of web development with its practical approach. With Ruby on Rails, every feature you need for app development is at your fingertips. You can get the information you need to move forward. Let's look at some of the components of Ruby on Rails. We will highlight some of the features that distinguish it from other programming languages and frameworks.

MVC Architecture

The Model, View, and Controller (MVC) architecture forms the foundation of Ruby on Rails. This architecture is widely used in web applications. As a result, it is easy for developers familiar with other MVC frameworks to use Ruby on Rails. This design isolates the codes for different roles, such as the display layer, data layer, and resource layer maintenance. The MVC architecture is beyond the scope of this Ruby on Rails introduction. We recommend checking out this article on test-driven development to learn more.

Active Record

Ruby on Rails uses an active record library. This is a comprehensive toolkit that makes it simple for developers to write database interaction queries. Developers will create the query in Ruby. This is then automatically transformed into an SQL query, which receives the output and produces an object. The active record library is capable of completing the majority of jobs. As a result, writing a query in SQL is quite rare.

Convention over Configuration

Ruby on Rails does not use configuration files to save conventions, reflection, and dynamic runtime extensions. The concept behind "Convention over Configuration" is to assign value without the need for human participation automatically. Some software systems and frameworks need many config files, each with multiple settings. This can be time-consuming. Because you don't have to spend time setting up config files, the convention function boosts productivity. It saves you time figuring out where things go and what names to give them.

Simple Testing Tool

RSpec, a unit testing framework included with Ruby on Rails, is simple to learn. Because it's ordinary Ruby, you can use it to test the application's functions by calling them independently. Ruby assists developers in ensuring that applications have been thoroughly tested and examined. RSpec is beyond the scope of this Ruby on Rails introduction. So, if you’re looking for something even more in-depth, check out this article on RSpec in Ruby on Rails. It will help you to make your apps more secure.

Automated Deployment

Ruby on Rails includes libraries that make moving code from development to production easier and faster. After a one-time setup, it deploys every modification you've made to the production with only a single line on the command interface.

Simple Programming Language

The syntax of Ruby on Rails is simple, concise, close to the English language, and flexible. In addition, Ruby is an object-oriented programming language. It allows you to create virtual objects in your code.

Ruby saves you time and enhances efficiency in writing long and complex functions. It also helps you write simple commands in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript documents. As the syntax of Ruby is close to English, it is always easier to structure your thinking and write it into code. Let us now give you an intro to Ruby on Rails.

Basic Guide to Ruby on Rails

Let’s discuss a few important aspects in this Ruby on Rails introduction, that will serve as a basic guide for your Ruby on Rails journey.

Data types

Ruby includes a variety of data types. Classes are the foundation of all Ruby data types. The following are the most common data types in Ruby:

  • Arrays
  • Hashes
  • Boolean
  • Symbols
  • Numbers
  • Strings

Methods

Looking at an overview of Rails in Ruby, a method is simply a set of expressions that returns a value. Within a method, you can organize your code into subroutines that can be easily invoked from other areas of their program.

A method definition starts with the "def" keyword followed by the method name. Method parameters are specified between parentheses following the method name.

The method definition ends with the "end" keyword on the bottom. Let’s look at an example:

{% code-block language="js" %}
def print_val(value)
  puts value
end
{% code-block-end %}

Method Name

A method name must start a letter or a character with the eight-bit set. It may contain letters, numbers, an _ (underscore or low line), or a character with the eight-bit set. The convention is to use underscores to separate words in a multiword method name.

Method names are US-ASCII compatible since the keys to type them exist on all keyboards.

Method names may end with a ! (bang or exclamation mark), a ? (question mark), or = equals sign.

The bang methods(! at the end of the method name) are called and executed just like any other method.

Methods that end with a question mark by convention return boolean. But they may not always return just true or false; often, they return an object to indicate a true value.

Methods that end with an equal sign indicate an assignment method. The return value is ignored for assignment methods, and the arguments are returned instead.

Return Values

By default, a method returns the last statement that was evaluated in the method's body. However, you can also do this by using the return keyword.

Arguments

In Ruby, a method can accept different arguments. Here are some argument conventions in Ruby:

  • The arguments always come after the method name.
  • The parentheses around the arguments are optional.
  • Multiple arguments can be separated by adding commas between them.
  • The arguments are positional.

Saving Data

Saving data is a comprehensive topic in Ruby, so for this Ruby on Rails introduction let’s keep it simple. 

Saving data is one of the most fundamental aspects of any software application. Therefore, successfully connecting to a database and running SQL queries to query data while maintaining ACID is essential. In Ruby, this is done via the Active Record.

The model, or M in MVC, is the system's layer responsible for providing business data and logic. Active Record is the model in MVC. It makes it easier to create and use business objects whose data must be stored in a database for a long time. It's a version of the Active Record Pattern, a description of an Object Relational Mapping system in and of itself.

Object Relational Mapping is a technique that connects the rich objects of an application to tables in a relational database management system. Once you set it up correctly, you can then use Rails to control your database by writing SQL queries.

Associations 

In Ruby on Rails, Active Record provides an interface between tables in a relational database. An association is a connection between two Active Record models. Associations make it much easier to perform various operations on the records in your code.

To determine the relationship between models, we must evaluate the relationship types. There are four types of associations like in databases:

  1. One-to-One
  2. One-to-Many
  3. Many-to-Many
  4. Polymorphic

Associations are a powerful tool in Ruby on Rails. We are giving only a broad overview of them here. To get a better understanding we recommend checking out this article on How to Use Associations and Class Names in Ruby on Rails.

Strings

A string in Ruby is a collection of one or more characters. It could be made up of letters, numbers, or symbols. Strings are the objects, and unlike in other languages, strings are changeable, meaning that they can be altered in place rather than being created from scratch. 

We can create strings in Ruby by simply placing a sequence of characters in double or single quotations to generate the string. The user can also save the string to a variable. There is no need to specify the variable's data type in Ruby. 

{% code-block language="js" %}
# string with single quotes
puts 'Ruby in single quotes' {% code-block-end %}
 
{% code-block language="js" %} # string with double quotes
puts "Ruby in double quotes" {% code-block-end %}
 
{% code-block language="js" %} # storing string in variables
str1 = "Ruby on Rails"
str2 = 'RoR' {% code-block-end %}
 
{% code-block language="js" %} # displaying string
puts str1
puts str2 {% code-block-end %}

Output:

{% code-block language="js" %}
Ruby in single quotes
Ruby in double quotes
Ruby on Rails
RoR {% code-block-end %}

String Interpolation

It is essential to know that the only difference between using single and double quotes is that the double quotes will interpolate the variables, but single quotes can't interpolate.

Let’s see this in action!

{% code-block language="js" %}
# storing string in variables
str1 = "Ruby on Rails"
str2 = 'RoR' {% code-block-end %}
 
{% code-block language="js" %} # using single quotes
puts 'Cannot Interpolate str1: #{str1}' {% code-block-end %}
 
{% code-block language="js" %} # using double quotes
puts "Can Interpolate str2: #{str2}" {% code-block-end %}

Output:

{% code-block language="js" %}
Cannot Interpolate str1: #{str1}
Can Interpolate str2: RoR {% code-block-end %}

Access String Elements

Like in Python, users can access the string elements using indexing via square brackets. Users can pass in ranges or indexes into square brackets to retrieve a subset of the string.

Syntax:

{% code-block language="js" %}
name_of_string_variable[arguments] {% code-block-end %}

An example will further clarify this.

{% code-block language="js" %}
# storing a string in variable
str = "Ruby on Rails is amazing"
# accessing the specified substring
puts
str["Ruby"]
puts
str['on']
# passing index as an argument which returns
# the  specified character
puts
str[3]
{% code-block-end %}

Output:

{% code-block language="js" %}
Ruby
on
y {% code-block-end %}

Arrays

An array is a data structure that can hold a fixed number of elements of the same data type in a fixed size. Although an array is used to store data, it is often more beneficial to conceive of it as a collection of variables of the same type.

Ruby arrays are collections of things that are arranged in a specific order. They can hold integers, numbers, hashes, strings, symbols, and other arrays.

In Ruby on Rails, an array is defined as a list of values surrounded by square brackets separated by commas.

Its indexing begins with a zero. Like in Python, the negative index begins with -1 from the end of the array. For example, -1 denotes the array's last element, while 0 denotes the array's initial element.

Initializing an Array

There are many ways to instantiate an array in Ruby. Let’s look at a few below:

{% code-block language="js" %}
names = Array.new {% code-block-end %}

You can set the size of an array at the time of creating an array.

{% code-block language="js" %}
names = Array.new(10) {% code-block-end %}

More on Arrays

The array names now have a size or length of 10 elements. You can return the size of an array with either the size or length methods.

{% code-block language="js" %}
names = Array.new(10)
puts names.size
puts names.length {% code-block-end %}

This will print 10 both times:

{% code-block language="js" %}
10
10 {% code-block-end %}

You can assign a value to each element in the array as follows:

{% code-block language="js" %}
names = Array.new(4, "web")
puts "#{names}" {% code-block-end %}

This will produce the following result:

{% code-block language="js" %}
["web", "web", "web", "web"] {% code-block-end %}

Can a Beginner Start with Ruby on Rails?

There are many ways to learn to code and a plethora of web development languages to select from, with practically everyone claiming to know which is the best, easiest, or fastest to learn.

Ruby on Rails, we feel, is one of the finest ways for beginners to get their hands dirty with code and quickly develop their own gorgeous, fully-functional, full-stack websites.

Rails is a web application framework running on the Ruby programming language. If you have no experience with any programming language, you will find a steep learning curve when diving straight into Rails. However, as you might have seen in this Ruby on Rails introduction, Ruby is relatively easy to learn and interact with if you also have some programming knowledge.

What Are Some Interesting Ruby on Rails Projects and Challenges?

ruby on rails introduction
Image by smartmockups.com

Ruby on Rails is one of the fastest-growing programming languages in the world. It is ranked as one of the top 10 programming languages, along with Java and Python. So to get some hands-on experience, it is crucial to get your hands dirty with some Ruby projects. Here are some project ideas to try out:

Simple Calculator

Start your journey by building a simple calculator app. You can begin by making a simple frame for your application with common functionalities, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and decision. Try to make your project fun and interactive with great visual graphics. You can take it a step further by turning your simple calculator into a scientific calculator with complex functionalities, including differentiation and integration.

String Manipulation Projects

You can improve your Ruby skills by creating String manipulation projects using substrings, palindromes, string comparisons, and splits. For example, you can create a word predictor app for your next scramble game, or a new version of hangman. String projects are a great way to familiarize yourself with Ruby data structures and make you a more efficient programmer.

Reminder App

Give yourself a challenge by making a reminder app. Though it may seem simple, you can add additional functionalities by linking it with your Facebook or Twitter accounts and using APIs to get important dates. For example, an app like this may help you never forget your friend's birthday.

With Ruby projects the sky's the limit. You can learn how to connect Ruby on Rails with React to start building interactive and responsive applications and step up your development game.

In addition, Ruby has a vibrant, active developer community. For example, the Ruby on Rails framework has almost 3,500 contributors on GitHub. By contrast, the Django framework for Python has less than half as many. An active community also equals a large amount of content, so you can often find in-depth guides to what you would like to achieve with Ruby.

How do I Start Learning Ruby on Rails? 

This post has given you an overview  of Ruby on Rails. It will help you to get started.. However, as you progress, you'll need to learn more. So, try working independently on a few Ruby on Rails projects that interest you. Your skills will undoubtedly get stronger, and you'll still have money in your pocket for more advanced coding boot camps. 

Furthermore, you should join Microverse today to secure your future. Microverse is an online school made for developers by developers. It is the only online school catered toward remote teaching in the English language for software developers. Plus, there is no upfront cost. Instead, you only pay once you get hired, making it a unique platform in the market. 

Microverse is a fantastic learning platform that focuses on accountability, support, and community.It is an excellent place to begin your software development journey. Microverse students come from over 100 countries, allowing you to interact with a diverse and driven community and gain life-changing experiences. Microverse will not only provide you with a Rails introduction, but will also give you the necessary skills to become a better developer.

So, join Microverse today and start your journey with Ruby on Rails.

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