Beginning Ruby on Rails Paperback – Nov 29 2006
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From the Back Cover
Ruby on Rails is the revolutionary online programming tool that makes creating functional e-commerce web sites faster and easier than ever. With the intuitive, straightforward nature of Ruby and the development platform provided by Rails, you can put together full-fledged web applications quickly, even if you're new to web programming.
You will find a thorough introduction to both Ruby and Rails in this book. You'll get the easy instructions for acquiring and installing both; understand the nature of conditionals, loops, methods, and blocks; and become familiar with Ruby's classes and objects. You'll learn to build Rails applications, connect to databases, perform necessary testing, and put the whole thing together to create real-world applications such as shopping carts and online catalogs—apps you can actually use right away.
What you will learn from this book
- How to install and use Ruby and Rails
- Object-oriented programming with Ruby
- Rails fundamentals and how to create basic online applications
- How to work with HTML controls, use models in Rails applications, and work with sessions
- Details on working with databases and creating, editing, and deleting database records
- Methods for handling cookies and filters and for caching pages
- How to connect Rails with Ajax
Who this book is for
This book is for anyone who wants to develop online applications using Ruby and Rails. A basic understanding of programming is helpful; some knowledge of HTML is necessary.
Wrox Beginning guides are crafted to make learning programming languages and technologies easier than you think, providing a structured, tutorial format that will guide you through all the techniques involved.
About the Author
Steven Holzner is the award-winning author of more than 100 programming books. He’s been involved in Ruby on Rails for a long time, and does commercial Rails development. He’s also been on the faculty of Cornell University and MIT, as well as having been a contributing editor for PC Magazine.
Top Customer Reviews
If you're not a programmer and have no experience with MySql or sqlite, you may want to avoid this title if you're just starting out. The book is well written but is lacking in the details necessary for a "real beginner" to get anything out of it.
The very first "try it out" will not work as the author neglects to tell you that you need to have MySql or sqlite installed, there is only a brief mention of it at the beginning of the book saying that you'll need to install it, but he doesn't go into the installation or configuration. With the very first example you get the impression that you don't need to have it right away.
Once you get a handle on the database side of RoR you can then come back to this book and try it out. Wrox usually puts out pretty good manuals but this one is lacking in the "How to" department.
If you are a true beginner, seek out another Beginning RoR title and use it to supplement this one, or if you don't feel like spending the $$ just avoid it all together.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book builds in this way, with examples which keep adding one new simple layer at a time (not several so that you are lost) but eventually leading you into the guts of RoR. Suddenly, without realizing it, you find yourself in the midst of having set up an application without realizing it & this itself makes you understand WHY Ruby for Rails is becoming very popular.
If you want to know what RoR is about and are starting out in this discovery, THIS is the book for you. By the end of the book you will realize that you are ready to start developing your own applications. I am one of those people that need to know why I am doing something - lots of books have simply shown HOW to do things.
This book does both & its the book I have been looking for. The type of book I wanted - the one ``epiphany book''. I suggest that any newbie start with this & then after you read this (& it is an easy read), you can then go to the other books which I think are good after you realize how all this makes sense. I should emphasize that this book as well later deals with most of the more "advanced" topics found in some of the others - but it leads into them gradually in a logical way that helps you understand why & how those tools fall into place with RoR. To further illustrate my previous frustration, I had previously seen several mind-blowing online screencasts on "unit tests", but it was not clear to me exactly what a "unit test" was, and why they were done & how the way RoR dealt with them made web application more efficient. After reading this book I seem to know WHY & HOW ALL these things come together to make RoR the talk of web development.
The book only requires that you know some LITTLE html, & the author obviously introduces Ruby to start - in the same easy style (even including "try it outs" together). Again, the author SHOWS how and why the 2 work together. All those little things that no one bothered to tell you about will be revealed by reading this book...
First, the positives. The good doctor's redeeming quality as a technical author is his ability to make the complex graspable for an audience - being neither too intimidating for the beginning coder, nor too condescending for the experienced architect. In this light, the book is very well done. Also, many readers with whom I've interacted find the holy grail of Rails writing, "Agile Development with Rails" to be too presumptuous and at times difficult to grok. Holzner addresses this crowd very appropriately, so those new to Rails, or Ruby programming, or web development in general will appreciate this book.
I realize that writing an introductory level book on any web framework is a huge undertaking for any platform. An author has to introduce a programming language, object-oriented tenets, database theory, SQL, operating systems support, web server integration, page handling, etc. - and then get into the actual web development. Add to this the challenge of a framework like Rails evolving at such a pace that a major publication might be outdated by the time it hits the shelves, and you've got a pretty daunting task at hand.
Holzner gives a good introduction into the Rails directory structure, working with databases, command-line syntax for creating Rails apps, working with Rails scaffolding, and provides a very healthy discussion for using Ajax in Rails. There's practical code in the book you can yank and use right away (not dependent on previous chapters), and the book shows how to work with WEBrick. There's a nice little section on unit testing, and cited are examples for setting up Rails on a Windows PC, a Mac, or a Linux box, so the content is available to a wide audience.
But with that said, I found the book to be short in a couple of key areas.
Only a scant amount of information was provided on working with XML and for using ActionController for REST-like URL mapping. And there isn't anything at all presented on the use of RJS templates. And there's likewise a tragic omission of using Rails to author web services, and nothing was presented about apps based on real-world relationships from database tables, only a simple one-to-many example. I also found the book to be incomplete without a firm discussion of a page's life cycle when handled by Rails. And there shockingly wasn't enough mentioned about the critical facet of Rails - its underlying Model-View-Controller architecture.
And what winds up being the book's most code-heavy example - a Rails shopping cart using session data and custom models - is merely regurgitation of the Pragmatic Programmers sample in the "Agile..." book.
The book's appendix is merely the answers to the end-of-chapter questions. I would have liked to see such a section dedicated towards more in-depth info on keeping Rails up to date, working with and authoring custom Ruby gems, examples of various sites currently using Rails, URLs to screencasts and podcasts, and IDEs developers can use instead of hand-coding new applications each and every time out. Since the examples mainly create a new rails app for each demo, I worry that the book may allow the first-time reader to misconstrue Rails development as a lot of work for even the simplest of jobs. Which defeats the whole purpose of Rails to begin with.
So, I'm giving this book 3 stars. It's very well written with a friendly voice and it'll get you into Rails fast. It's a great way to start learning RoR development for any level of developer. I've shared it with a few friends in academic circles and also with non-technical people, and it suits both equally effectively. But even at that, and considering myself an experienced - but not expert - Rails developer, the book is a bit incomplete without several critical discussions.
Most books (and online tutorials) try to teach Rails by going through a big monolithic project one step at a time. Those books have good information too, and are great if the books project happens to be what you want to create; however, this one actually tells you how Rails works, which I find infinitely easier to grasp and use.
I was not a beginner with Ruby or Rails prior to reading this book. I had already read several others and used Rails on a couple of small projects. Nonetheless, I found that this book filled in some of the holes in my mind regarding Rails, so I would recommend it to both the beginner and intermediate user.
The only thing I found lacking in this book is a thorough explanation of migrations and how to use them. Migrations are easier to understand for beginners, I think, than manually creating your data tables; as is done in this book. The Apress book on creating E-Commerce sites with Rails contains a good explanation of migrations, I think.
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