I could not recommend RoR for Dummies more. It is an excellent book to a person who is looking for what I was looking for: a cohesive intro into RoR.
I am not a programmer and I need to learn how to develop online application, i.e. database driven website (rather than static one using HTML and CSS alone) for our business.
After thorough looking around I decided to go ahead and jump on Ruby, and ride the Rails (the framework within which online applications using Ruby language are built).
The package is playfully called Ruby on Rails, shortly RoR (the book also explains how this name originated).
I chose RoR over other available tools out there like PHP, C# in MS Visual Studio or Java with Struts, and others for the sheer beauty of Ruby. [...]
RoR for Dummies is a bit more than an intro into RoR. It is a succinct primer for the Ruby programming language itself, Rails framework, HTML(!) and RadRails. RadRails is one of the available RoR's IDEs - Integrated Development Environment. IDE refers to a software that integrates working with all the essential parts of RoR in one place (namely Ruby, Rails, HTML, CSS, and some database (MySQL is the 'native' database in RoR). Very much like 'word processor' refers to a software for writing and formatting text documents.
There are also a few paragraphs on databases spread around the book which I found very useful and informative. The book does not delve into CSS, which is understandable; CSS - albeit syntactically very simple - is a powerful formatting tool that can swiftly become challenging animal to tame if one leaves arena of coloring fonts and backgrounds. CSS is a subject matter of plethora of books.
All of the parts necessary for work in RoR are available free of charge for immediate download and use. For a novice, this may seem a daunting task but RoR for Dummies guides reader through the download and installation of all of the parts safely and painlessly. I had no problem installing any of them following the instructions in the book (running Windows XP).
The book is written in such a way that if one knows nothing about any of the topics (I think so, I cannot say about myself that I know nothing about these things), one can still proceed chapter by chapter and get all things done. There were only a handful of points in the book where I felt it was necessary to look elsewhere for additional explanations. And that was simply because I am a curious person and want to know the why's.
The book is also quite funny at times.
Of course that I have a slew of other books to go through in order to get efficient in using RoR. But again, I feel, that RoR for Dummies did excellent job in introducing me to the entire fleet of technologies involved in building an online application using Ruby, Rails, and HTML (the three covered topics).
On the margin, I have a good working knowledge of HTML and CSS. I have some knowledge of Ruby, as I am learning Ruby on my own (I have taken courses on Visual Basic and PHP to get my feet wet in terms of programming). I am also currently taking courses on databases - database design and SQL. All of these pieces are needed for building online applications.
One more thing, RoR/RadRails is not a Dreamweaver - although a huge amount of scripts is generated by Rails (hence the tremendous boost in efficiency of work), RoR/RadRails is not about dialog windows simplifying your job, it is about coding into what was prefabricated for you by Rails.