Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, learning Rails from scratch can be challenging.
The framework and surrounding ecosystem have evolved so much that the experience of getting started now in 2012 is far more daunting than the one we early adopters encountered back in 2004 or 2005. Yes, things are more polished in many regards, but there are also so many more choices to be made.
What login library among the many options available should you go with? What testing framework should you use? What application server? These are just a few of the questions a beginner may ask. To complicate things further, not all gems and plugins that were in vogue earlier on have been maintained over the years.
When mentoring people who are new to Rails, I’ve had a lot of success with the Rails Tutorial (the PDF and screencasts) by Michael Hartl. My interns at IBM have absolutely loved it and have always been able to make major progress as far as their Rails knowledge goes in a matter of weeks.
I’ve shared my enthusiasm for this guide before, as it gets your feet wet right away thanks to its highly practical, example-based approach that doesn’t skimp too on much the “why” aspect of things. (It’s great when used in association with the official guides.)
I particularly like how it dictates making sensible choices and then guides the reader (or viewer) through the process of setting everything up, including the use of popular external services such as Github, Heroku, etc.
Well, the exciting news today is that Michael just released a second edition and it’s even better the first one. The new features include:
Fully updated for Rails 3.2 and Ruby 1.9
All-new design using Twitter’s Bootstrap
Coverage of the new asset pipeline, including Sprockets & Sass
Behavior-driven development (BDD) with Capybara & RSpec
Better automated testing with Guard & Spork
Roll your own authentication with has_secure_password
An introduction to Gherkin & Cucumber
Based on my experience with mentoring and teaching Rails, I wholeheartedly recommend this tutorial to anyone who is just starting out or who hasn’t touched Rails in a while and needs a refresher. (Many things, such as the asset pipeline, have changed and affect day-to-day coding and deployment.)
Michael was kind enough to provide me with a coupon (ac25) just for my readers, which offers you a 25% discount until the end of April. If you plan to take advantage of this resource, grab it now and use ac25 at the checkout. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: The link to the tutorial contains my referral id. This doesn’t affect my genuine and very positive opinion of this great course.
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Antonio Cangiano is a Software Developer and AI Evangelist at IBM. He authored Ruby on Rails for Microsoft Developers (Wrox, 2009) and Technical Blogging ( The Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2012, 2019). He is also the Marketing Lead for Cognitive Class, an educational initiative which he helped grow from zero to over 1 Million students. You can follow him on Twitter.