Sebastopol, CA--Rails may just be the most important open source project to be introduced in the last ten years. So claim Bruce Tate and Curt Hibbs, authors of the just-released Ruby on Rails: Up and Running (O'Reilly, US $29.99). They're certainly not alone in their belief. Now in its second year of existence, the framework has seen (by a conservative estimate) more than half a million downloads. The publishing world has rallied in support of Rails developers; in fact, by December 2006, according to Tate and Hibbs, we're likely to see more books on Rails than on any of Java's single flagship frameworks, including JSF, Spring, or Hibernate.
What makes Rails different from the other quick-and-dirty environments out there is that Rails lets developers keep the quick and leave the dirty behind. "It lets you build clean applications based on the model-view-controller philosophy," Tate and Hibbs explain. "Rails is a special framework."
"Ruby on Rails is the harbinger of a new way of developing software," adds Hibbs. "Future generations of software developers will look back and recognize this as the opening volley in a revolution that pushed productivity to new heights." Rich internet applications, Ajax, Web 2.0, social web apps, interconnectedness, and mashups will all be part of this: "Ruby on Rails is one of the enablers at the center of this revolution."
The advantage of using Rails is that development becomes much simpler; programmers can focus on the creative parts of their applications rather than on the wiring and plumbing. "Ruby on Rails: Up and Running" provides a quick, no-nonsense introduction that takes developers from zero to full speed in seven chapters (167 pages in all). The book shows how to build real applications, covering everything from using scaffolding to "test the waters" to writing responsive, user-pleasing applications with Ajax.
"Our book will quickly launch readers into a basic understanding of Ruby on Rails, offering enough knowledge and guidance to point them down the path of full mastery," says Hibbs. But the book goes even further. It shows the established programmer, armed with nothing more than a little Ruby knowledge, how to go beyond the basics and become productive in Rails. The book covers:
Hibbs acknowledges that determined would-be Ruby on Rails users can find most of the information in the book on the Internet. "However, if they want the shortest, easiest way to jumpstart their knowledge of Ruby on Rails, this book will save them a lot of time."
Ruby on Rails: Up and Running doesn't attempt to reiterate the reference manual. Instead, it presents the big picture of how Rails applications hold together. It shows readers where to go for information that isn't covered in the chapters. Readers will see how Rails dynamically adds features to all database models, called Active Record objects. Then, by understanding the big picture, they'll be able to make better use of the best reference manuals to fill in the details. In short, this book gives readers the foundation they need to get up and running. If you want to work with Ruby on Rails, it's the book you have to have.
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