Over the past several months, I very slowly worked my way through Michael Hartl’s Ruby On Rails Tutorial and just wrapped things up last weekend. As someone who has worked in many different programming languages over the years, I found this to be a great survey on how Rails can be used to build functional web apps.
The majority of the book is spent methodically building out a basic Twitter clone. I like the way that concepts like MVC and TDD were introduced, but I question whether I might have been a bit lost if I wasn’t already familiar with them.
The writing style was very easy to follow, and I liked the predictable flow of Write Tests, Code, Test, Repeat. I do wish that whomever curates the Kindle version would eliminate all of the “Click here to view code image” links, but that was only a minor distraction.
The author rightly states in the intro that a basic understanding of HTML and CSS is needed. If you’re starting without that baseline, a lot of the sample app is going to seem like magic, and relying on magic is a bad way to code. As it stands I feel like a lot of the Ruby code in the book was a bit on the mystical side, so I’m probably going to find a good Ruby book for my next technical read. If you want to take a look at where my sample ended up, you can see the code at: https:/github.com/hallihan/rails_tutorial and I’ve got the sample running on Heroku at http://yamf.net.
Overall I’d say that if you’re familiar with other web frameworks like ASP/ASP.Net, PHP, JSP, etc. this is a great book to introduce the Rails framework. I’d probably recommend diving into a Ruby book first if you have the interest.