I am teaching at a free 1.5 day weekend workshop geared towards introducing women to Ruby on Rails. The goal of the course is to help women build their first database driven website. In this workshop, we’ll take you through building a complete web application using Ruby on Rails. By the end of the day, you’ll have an application that connects to a database and reads and writes information. This workshop will be focused on developing web apps and programming in Ruby.
Why learn Ruby on Rails?
As one of the most powerful ways to quickly develop web applications, Ruby on Rails has a high relevance and demand in today’s marketplace. Companies like Airbnb, Fab.com, Hulu, and even Codecademy, have built their products using the Rails framework.
3 Reasons Why You Should Learn Ruby As Your First Programming Language
Learning Ruby is a stepping stone to Ruby on Rails
If you’re currently working within the software industry or startup community, chances are you’ve heard of Ruby on Rails (often shortened to just Rails). Rails is a software framework for creating web applications.
Many students new to programming aren’t sure what the difference is between Ruby and Ruby on Rails. Ruby is a language. Ruby on Rails is a framework that uses and depends on the Ruby programming language. Think of a framework as a collection of pre-written code to help programmers. In this case, the Rails framework is a collection of pre-written code to help programmers make websites and web applications.
Still confused? Think of making a sandwich. You simply add a slice of meat, cheese, and lettuce to two slices of bread. But where did the bread come from? It’s easier to get pre-sliced bread from the grocery store instead of baking our own bread using flour and water. In this case, the Ruby programming language is flour and water. Pre-sliced bread is the Ruby on Rails framework.
Learning Ruby is a prerequisite to learning Ruby on Rails. You’ll be one step closer to creating web applications like Twitter, Yellow Pages, Hulu, or Groupon.
Ruby knowledge is in demand
The TIOBE Programming Community Index lists Ruby as the 11th most popular programming language as of the time of writing this article. Although popularity is a good thing, what’s better is demand. Currently, Ruby is experiencing incredible growth in demand.
Demand for Ruby programmers is most likely tied to the Ruby on Rails framework, which launched the programming language into mainstream development in 2004. Employers are building their websites using Ruby on Rails. They need Ruby developers to maintain their code bases.
The demand for Ruby also exists outside of Ruby on Rails. Ruby is increasingly becoming common within DevOps roles. Wondering what DevOps is? A website or web application with huge amounts of traffic will usually require hundreds of computers to run on, called servers. DevOps engineers ensures the reliability and efficiency of those servers. DevOps engineers also automate the deployment of servers, so websites can quickly handle large surges of traffic. Ruby is a popular programming language for DevOps frameworks like Puppet and Chef.
Ruby has a huge and useful ecosystem
A programming language’s ecosystem is important for several reasons:
- Existing code that you can leverage — Ruby has pre-written frameworks and libraries like Ruby on Rails and Chef. You can use this pre-written code for your own projects. Why spend time reinventing the wheel when someone else has already done it for you? Ruby even has its own system to manage frameworks and libraries, called RubyGems. There are currently over 60,000 libraries to choose from!
- Documentation — instructions play a huge role in every developer’s life. As you’re working on your project, you’ll constantly be searching through documentation. First time connecting to a database? The go to starting place is documentation. When you’re coding, there will be a lot of “first times” where you’ll need access to good documentation.
- Learning resources — Ruby has a large amount of resources to choose from. There’s plenty of books, screencasts, in-person courses, and even developer bootcamps dedicated to learning Ruby. There are even free tutorials scattered throughout the web, like free e-book, below. Keep reading until end of article for details.
- Community — Stuck on a programming problem or have a question? Find a Ruby mailing list, chat room, or web forum and ask away! The Ruby community is filled with generous developers who enjoy helping out. Be sure to contribute once you’re more experienced. There are even Ruby User Groups, where developers interested in Ruby meet in person to discuss and learn from each other.
How to start learning Ruby
I hope I’ve sold you on why Ruby is an ideal first programming language! As I mentioned, Ruby has an excellent community and extensive amount of learning resources. You can learn from books or online courses, but remember, the best way to learn programming is by getting your hands dirty! As you’re reading books or taking a course, start coding on your own programming projects. You’ll learn best when you’re solving real world problems.
Is Ruby on Rails a Good Choice for Your Website?
Ruby on Rails (often referred to as just “Rails”) is a framework for building websites that can make it more affordable to create and maintain your site, while simultaneously offering improved performance and faster development times.
In general, Rails gives you more “bang for your buck” as a business owner, without sacrificing flexibility or performance. We have also found, however, that there are some projects for which Ruby on Rails is not the best choice. Below are some guidelines for determining whether Ruby on Rails would be a good choice for your project.
The benefits of Ruby on Rails
Overall, as a business owner, the three largest benefits you can expect with Ruby on Rails are:
- Quicker launch. Sites that would traditionally take 12 weeks to build can commonly be launched inside of 6 weeks with Ruby on Rails. This time savings results from a few factors: a leaner code-base (fewer lines of redundant code), a modular design (re-using existing components rather than building everything from scratch), and the availability of existing plugins (again, reducing the need to build features from scratch).
- Easier changes. After site launch, future modifications to your site (e.g., adding new features, making changes to the data model) can be made more quickly, for the same reasons noted above.
- More cost-effective. Because of the speed with which Rails sites can be built and modified, you spend less money to create and maintain the website — without compromising the quality, performance, or scalability of your site.
In summary, while building Rails websites isn’t “cheap” but for larger sites you do stand to gain a much better return on your investment by using Rails.
When to use Ruby on Rails
Rails is an ideal solution if your site falls into one or more of the following categories:
- E-commerce. Most e-commerce sites benefit tremendously from Rails’ user-friendly features and modular approach to site development. We can also include features that you would normally only find in high-end e-commerce suites, such as bulk uploads and updates (for product descriptions and photos, extremely handy when you have thousands of products), custom pricing algorithms, and on-the-fly photo resizing/cropping (especially handy for making product thumbnails for browse pages).
- Membership sites. Membership and social networking options are pretty much “baked” into Rails. A variety of plugins are available to solve just about any social networking challenge you can think of.
- Content management. If the purpose of your site is to present thousands of articles, audio files, or other database-friendly content, Rails is a great solution because of the ease with which users will be able to navigate the site, and the ease with which you will be able to upload and manage the content.
- Custom database solutions. More and more of our new projects are custom solutions requiring a novel database structure to support a creative new business model. In most cases, Rails is an ideal way to realize build these solutions at a fraction of the usual time and expense.
When NOT to use Ruby on Rails
On the other hand, your site likely will not be well suited to Ruby on Rails if it is:
- A “brochure” site. Many small business owners taking their first steps on the web are looking for a brochure-style website that makes a good first impression, provides background and contact information for the company, and enables the business owner to update the website himself. For this kind of website, a better solution than Rails would be a WordPress-driven content management system. If this is what you need, there’s no reason to bear the expense of creating a Ruby on Rails site.
- Limited to a budget. Rails sites offer real advantages once they are set up, but getting the initial framework in place takes some work.
- A blog-centric site. Ruby on Rails makes it easy to add a blog to a larger web site (e.g., an e-commerce or social networking site). But if your site is first and foremost a blog, then Rails is probably not the best choice; there are other solutions that offer more advanced features with less overhead. You would be better served by utilizing WordPress, for example, as your base site.
40 West 23rd St
New York, NY 10010
- Take the N/R/Q/W, 1/2 or 6, to 23rd St.
Food and Drinks
- Food and drinks will be provided!
- Dinner will be provided for Installfest Friday night, and breakfast, lunch and snacks will be provided on Saturday.
- We will do our best to accommodate vegan and gluten-free requests.
- We will have a short party after the event with light refreshments sponsored by Blue Apron.
- Please join us and network with other volunteers and attendees!
- All students need to bring their own laptop and power cord.
- Since bandwidth is usually at a premium at the Installfest, please head to our Downloads page on the Docs site to download everything you need for your Operating System.
- Review all the curriculum materials before class.
- Register for RailsBridge NYC Winter 2017 Workshop
PLEASE NOTE: Installfest is required for participation in this workshop. We’ll meet up on Friday to install all of the software you need, and then spend Saturday learning and writing code. Programmers of all skill levels are welcome. We will have different classes separated by experience level (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced).
If your interested in learning about Ruby but cannot attend this workshop, download “The best Rails book for beginners.” Get it FREE!
Get a solid start on Ruby on Rails 5.0 web development with a book by renowned teacher and author.
– Learn in a weekend
– Master the basics
– Learn the practices you’ll use in the workplace.
– Prepare to go further
Questions? Contact me.