Advantages of Web Development with Ruby on Rails

by Mila Slesar

Ruby is a dynamic fully object-oriented, general-purpose scripting language. Created back in 1995, it currently ranks among the top 10 programming languages. Ruby developers are known to build architecturally clean and high-quality web applications using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS files.

In 2005, During the building of Basecamp, David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH) envisioned a powerful library over the Ruby programming language. He took the app’s underpinnings and created building blocks for future use, thus originating the Rails framework. DHH made it multi-purpose, extensible, and expandable and shared with the open-source market. There, Ruby on Rails was further improved and made a breakthrough for web development.

RoR remains one of the most popular server-side web frameworks. If you wish to know why, and whether it may be the right choice for your web application or site, this article is for you.

The Advantages of Ruby on Rails

The Ruby on Rails framework follows three major design principles which promote simplicity in building complex systems:

I.  Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture

In this architecture, a web application has three interconnected layers. The model houses codes that work on the application data. It centralizes the business logic of the application and the rules to manipulate the data. Views are HTML files with embedded Ruby code which determine how users interact with the application and how it presents the data to the users, including HTML, PDF, XML, RSS, and other formats. The controller communicates with models and views. It receives a request from the browser, works with models to process it, and instructs the view on how to display the result to the user correctly.

ruby web programming

Web apps built with RoR are arranged appropriately and have basic divisions between the layers: defined routes, controllers, models, and bounded views within the framework. The use of the MVC architectural pattern improves their maintainability and facilitates decoupling and testing.

II. Conventions over configurations paradigm

This principle helps the developers save time and effort. Because the framework ‘assumes’ what they want to do and how to do it, they don’t have to keep in mind the details about configuration files. Skipping this part, which is significant in Django, for example, RoR developers have to create less code to achieve the same results.

III. Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY)

DRY encourages reducing the repetition of information within a system. This facilitates making modifications and minimizes errors in the software development cycle.

Those who build complex websites value these design principles greatly, along with other benefits of Ruby on Rails:

  • Simplicity

RoR leverages the advantages of the Ruby programming language. Its use of English-like syntax and common language feels so native and logical that some parts of the code read like English declarations.

The simple and readable syntax enables Ruby developers to do more with less code. That readability also makes Ruby almost self-documenting. This relieves the developers’ burden of writing out separate comments or help text. The programmers and managers can view each other’s code easily and quickly learn what’s going on in a project.

It’s not obligatory to know Ruby to use the Rails framework, but you are sure to pick up Ruby as you learn Rails. It’s said to be easier to learn than most programming languages even for non-technical persons. If you are proficient in Python, the transition to RoR is going to be smooth. The Rails web development community is very open and friendly to beginners and offers lots of useful libraries and plugins.

The framework has built-in solutions to many problems that web developers commonly face. The core benefits are its generators, modules, and gems (libraries for adding features to web applications). Virtually for any function that you may need to implement, there is a gem available in the RubyGems repository. If not, you can easily find an expert in the vast Ruby community that will develop one within the shortest time.

The framework’s set rules and patterns further facilitate the development of web applications. With its specific set standards, developers do not waste time searching for a proper structure of an application. Many things happen without strict definitions thanks to conventions and assumptions that are considered best ways to accomplish tasks. Many tasks are built-in to work out-of-the-box, such as object-database mappers, file structures, code generation, how the elements are named and organized, etc. All these increase productivity and make the created web apps more maintainable. Because the same structure and development practices are used everywhere, it’s easy to go from one project to another, as well as for new people to join in the coding.

  • Faster development

Ruby on Rails minimizes the website development time by 25-50% as compared to other popular web frameworks. Sometimes it’s possible to have an MVP ready to go online within hours. Web development with Ruby on Rails is faster due to the object-orientation of Ruby, the lean code base, modular design, extensive open-source code developed by the Rails community, and a wide range of ready-to-use plugin solutions for feature development.

RoR generally has fewer lines of code. For example, a line of code in Ruby may be worth six lines of Java code sometimes. It also offers a powerful infrastructure from the onset, sparing the developers considerable time and effort to build one from scratch. They need neither to spend a lot of time configuring files for setup nor to decide on the many defaults that already exist. Making fewer decisions results in quicker development, improved collaboration, and easier maintenance.

The developers also have access to various ready-made modules in third-party libraries. They can take dashboards, user authentication, and other standard and non-standard components from a ‘garage’ and integrate them into the product. The components can be reused, changes are easy, and iteration and experimentation are painless. Moreover, RoR offers an option of integrated testing in the process of coding. The developers don’t have to use external plugins or any testing tools. It saves both their time and efforts and the customers’ money.

One of the advantages of Ruby on Rails is thus the ability to develop a prototype of the future site much faster than with other web frameworks. The customer can check the feasibility of the product and fix any errors in its scope and direction early on, which helps mitigate risks.

advantages of ruby on rails

  • Easy code maintenance and updates

Ruby on Rails is known for its stability and predictability. Modifying the existing code and adding new features to a site are easy. This is particularly valuable for long-term projects and startups. If you need to update an application or to refactor its code long after it was developed and deployed, the Rails conventions will help the new employees or freelancers step up and pick up on everything quickly. With startups, much hiring and firing is typical, while the cost of introducing new developers into a project is a crucial factor. It’s nice to know that substitution of a team member will not be a problem if you go for Ruby on Rails web development.

  • Cost-effectiveness

Ruby on Rails presents good saving opportunities. If your group is on a budget, you probably wish to avoid the licensing costs of conventional languages, especially if needed on various devices at different locations. RoR is free to use by an individual or a corporation. It can run on the free open-source Linux and works well with many free web servers and databases.

A plethora of available libraries saves the developers’ time and effort, and many of the libraries are free to boot. As mentioned above, your application can be developed, deployed, and maintained by different developers whose rates may vary widely. RoR’s ability to accommodate changes easily further saves time and money. And since the whole development process and code updates are performed faster, business owners tend to spend less money on the development of their website and its upgrade.

  • Quality product

RoR saves time and money while ensuring high quality. Its maturity means fewer risks. The developers can more easily build websites that follow the principles of good development. Thanks to available high-quality libraries, they don’t have to write boilerplate code every time. Instead, they can concentrate on discovering your business needs and building a better product for you. RoR also promotes testing automation, which helps deliver better software. And finally, being friendly to web designers in terms of templating system, RoR also helps make the web apps and sites more appealing.

  • Suitable for all business industries

Ruby was intended to be a general-purpose solution, and Ruby on Rails is a full-stack framework that covers both front- and back-end design. It’s true that Ruby’s community has been focused primarily on web development from the very beginning. However, it has grown more diverse over the years. They are using RoR programming for various purposes (although with varying success), including, but not limited to, advertising, back-end for mobile applications, content management systems, e-commerce and e-learning, FinTech, marketplaces, social networks, science, etc. The benefits of Ruby have been leveraging the creation of 3D structures with Google SketchUp and simulations at NASA Langley Research Center, to name a few.

Brand-new startups and established small, medium-sized, and big businesses equally appreciate the speed and agility of web development with Ruby on Rails. The software can be used and reused for different projects. Due to its productivity and agility features, it’s popular in the Agile development.

Although RoR is flexible and can be easily attuned to any field of business, most live products in Ruby are web applications. If you’re wondering ‘What is Ruby on Rails used for with best results?’, see the next chapter.

Projects that Use the Benefits of Ruby on Rails at Large

Due to its stability and predictability, Ruby on Rails works best for long-term projects and dynamic websites. If you plan a general-purpose app, RoR can be the best solution. If a site has frequent changes in requirements and rich functionality and modifications in a project, Ruby web programming is a good option too. RoR has all the major institutions needed to run a huge sprawling application like GitHub or Shopify. At the same time, as mentioned above, it’s excellent for creating prototypes.

Besides the two, RoR is favored by Airbnb, Apple, Bloomberg, Dribble, Groupon, Hulu, Kickstarter, Zendesk, YellowPages, and many other e-commerce, service, and platform brands. The range of application is broad indeed, but here are some of the categories that benefit from the use of Ruby on Rails most:

  • E-commerce sites

The convenient modular programming framework facilitates building relevant features. It provides a range of supporting tools that accurately meets standard business requirements. These may include numerous uploads and updates (e.g., product images and descriptions), price algorithms, imagery processing like changing sizes and cropping, etc.

  • Content sites

If a website focuses on creating large volumes of reading material or the addition of audio or video files, RoR ensures fast and easy uploading procedures that make the navigation easier for both users and website managers.

  • Social networking sites

Ruby on Rails is not by default suitable for large-scale web apps with millions of concurrent users. Even so, it offers plugins for resolving problems that relate to social media networking and membership websites.

  • Database solutions

The Rails framework was designed for database-backed web apps as a response to heavy web frameworks like J2EE and the .NET framework. RoR offers an innovative database model and customized technology solution for cost-effective website construction.

what is ruby on rails used for

They say that Ruby better fits small and mid-size enterprise web applications that do little computing and for which latency, bandwidth, and database performance are not crucial. Still, whatever limitations you may encounter, a qualified Ruby developer will usually know the workarounds.

Conclusion

Ruby on Rails is a reliable software development platform for building database back-ended applications. It leverages the benefits of the Ruby web programming language which stands for easy-to-understand code and speedy web development. Rails provides all the concepts from traditional MVC frameworks like models, views, controllers, and database migrations. The use of Rails conventions eliminates configuration code and enables Ruby developers to write less code for an application to run. Ruby on Rails website development is regarded to be agile and to enhance maintainability.

The Rails framework is excellent for quick application development. It can absorb changes easily. Its good testing and test automation further promote rapid development and better quality of the product. With Ruby on Rails, web design gets more comfortable, and website development and maintenance more cost-effective. It’s also well-known for security strength. All this makes RoR arguably the fastest and most efficient way to build websites and web applications.

Ruby on Rails does not belong to cheap development technologies by default, but the considerable benefits of Ruby on Rails can make it a good solution for your project, be it an MVP or an established business. If you plan on

  • working on a budget

  • building web applications

  • picking the right tool for your startup

  • a sophisticated website or app that involves a database

  • a social network, online store, or any type of site where users sign up…

… look into the Rails framework. It may prove an excellent choice.

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