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Why use Ruby on Rails & what’s it good for?

Ruby on Rails (a.k.a. Ruby, or Rails, or RoR) is a web application framework for fast object-oriented programming. Its rather not for beginners, the learning curve is quite high. To use Ruby on Rails framework, a multi-level environment to develop web apps, implies centering around the MVC architecture (Model-View-Controller).

Web developers, project managers, website designers often face questions like “what is Ruby used for?” or “why do my competitors use PHP instead or Rails?”. The niche of web development is in fierce competition and there’s always a demand for tools that help gain the edge. Rails is one of them, accelerating developer tasks. With this in mind, let’s explore further. 

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What is Rails used for?

Firstly, with Rails developers can do more (work) for less (cost), and it will not affect the quality of work. Secondly, Rails is in use by startups, non-profit projects, top-tier businesses. Benefits of using Ruby include: 

  • a program for collaboration
  • community support,
  • fast product delivery
  • content management,
  • statistics, insights, etc.

Predictability, stability, and reliability make this framework a big hit for long-term IT projects. Check out a short introduction in this video.

Why is Rails popular: benefits

Straight to the point:

  1. High speed of development. Rails projects are typically developed quickly, due to advanced features and its development suite. Time is money – the more time it takes to develop, the more expensive the cost.
  2. Precise implementation of complex business logic. To use Ruby on Rails is getting the clean code. It can then be modified, linked to external outsourced projects, free of bugs.
  3. Reliability and maintainability. With test-driven approach within Rails, quality assurance procedures are down to a minimum.
  4. Scalability and quality performance. Rails framework is great for developing apps that undergo high loads, provide quick response times to users.
  5. Competent developers. The percentage of qualified Rails developers, capable of delivering projects on time and on budget, is pretty high.

Key Rails features

  • Automated testing of web projects, i.e. a quality check before release. 
  • Caching – a critical stage in development of large-scale web projects. 
  • Localization enables a ready-made web design easily transferred into the project or other programming languages. 
  • Routing can be set up quickly , as well as selecting the type of address and the section titles. If you change the address just in one place, it automatically changes all over the web project. 
  • Validation of incoming data.
  • Databases – straightforward and accessible, all changes are recorded and securely stored in the repository.
  • Safety is always at the highest level. When use Ruby on Rails, you can eliminate SQL injection and XSS attacks. Rails sets all the parameters by default, thus developers are less likely to make errors.
  • Deployment – launching the application on the Internet through Rails hosting with a single command.

When not to use Ruby on Rails

There’s nothing perfect enough, and surely Rails has its pros and cons. Why and when to use Ruby on Rails?

When you do need Rails:

  • when developing regular web applications
  • in long-term projects and you require a robust framework with regular updates
  • when you face constant changes in requirements and functionality of a project, or you do not have a consistent product concept.
  • if you need quick prototyping

When you do not need Rails:

  • if under project requirements and functionality you anticipate no drastic functional changes
  • when looking for features that Rails does not provide, e.g. high operational speed, low server resource consumption
  • when your team feels strongly about a different framework

What kind of projects can you do with Rails:

  • Information systems (e.g. data storage, enterprise systems, search engines, global information systems);
  • Services with high traffic (e.g. Google, Youtube, Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia, etc.);
  • Services with a broad range of functionality (see above);
  • Social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google+);
  • Auctions (e.g. Ebay,, Wwhiskyauctio, etc.);
  • Online shopping stores (Amazon, Macy’s, Asos, etc.).

See what companies use Ruby on Rails in this overview.

Ruby VS other frameworks

There is a permanent debate on what framework/language/tool is best for web projects. The choice often depends on what programming language developers prefer/work with. There’s plenty of frameworks for web app development, so there’s never a problem to switch in case of urgency.

Rails vs PythonPython is a programming language to develop software. Rails is specifically appropriate for web app development.
Rails vs Node.jsNode is not a framework, unlike Ruby, so comparing both is somewhat wrong, although many people do. Node is a server-based environment for developing applications. 
Rails vs PHPPHP, not a framework but a scripting language for developing software. It has its frameworks for web applications, though not quite as popular as Ruby. 
Rails vs JavaJava is a programming language, which you can use for creating applications for different operating systems, except for the web. 
Rails vs JavascriptJavascript is a programming language that has its frameworks, that are still less popular than Rails.
Rails vs ASP.NETASP.NET is a framework that has the highest ranking in 2017. Technological capabilities are about the same, yet ASP offers more open source extensions. 
Rails vs WordPressWordPress is completely different from Rails, not surprisingly. It’s not a framework, though a platform to create simple websites. If you work on large projects like Twitter or Amazon, WordPress won’t fit.
Rails vs LaravelLaravel is based on PHP, and Ruby eats more resources than PHP.

According to Google Trends, here’s what we see in terms of frameworks popularity:

In conclusion

Ruby on Rails is a perfect choice for developing any type of web applications or services. It can be a simple website with a blog, or a global social network. Rails is relatively easy to work with and operates fast, it can save time and resources. Finally, Rails offers plenty of possibilities in software development. So what do YOU think and what’s your experience with Rails?

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