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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2010
The Rails 3 Way is an interesting book representing a large amount of effort digging into Rails 3. It shares insights and technical knowledge you'd struggle to patch together from blog posts and documentation. It's a very opinionated book and will not be to everyone's taste. For starters, ERb isn't covered at all, instance variables in views are scowled at, and Test::Unit is treated with contempt.

It's not an introductory book in any sense and Obie acknowledges this in his introduction. Obie bills it as a "day-to-day reference for the full-time Rails developer" - a fair description IMHO, but the book feels disjointed in places and has a scattershot approach to what it cares to cover. You need to be clued up to digest this book properly. For an intermediate to expert Rails developer (especially one yet to move to Rails 3) or an expert Rubyist new to Rails, The Rails 3 Way is a useful book that unearths some of the trickier parts of Rails 3 a professional needs to know about. I recommend it - but not as wholeheartedly as the original edition for a number of reasons:

* Parts of the book feel curiously short or scattershot in their coverage. The AJAX on Rails chapter is a mere 16 pages. The RSpec chapter is 33 pages long and provides only an overview (and says as much) though given the recent release of RSpec 2.0 and the new RSpec book, this may be a plus. Rails Engines aren't discussed or covered at all except for a small sidenote that links you to a gist on GitHub. It's not all bad though - some chapters are great, complete guides to a topic, such as Active Record Associations and Advanced Active Record.

* A lot can be gathered from what's not mentioned in the book at all: Capybara, Selenium, Webrat, Searchlogic, SASS, factory_girl.. It wouldn't be expected for a book like The Rails 3 Way to go into depth with any of these tools but having no mentions of them when related issues are raised feels like a missed opportunity to give people some guidance. The lack of Webrat is bizarre since the only full integration test shown in the book clearly uses it. Webrat is neither mentioned nor explained. Nor is Capybara, Webrat's heir apparent.

* The concept of using a different ORM than ActiveRecord is mentioned only once, in the context of running --skip-migration on a rails generate in order to prevent ActiveRecord migrations being generated. Considering what a big deal ORM agnosticism was when developing Rails 3, this is a disappointment.

* Concepts are sometimes used in code but not mentioned in the text. In the RSpec chapter, for instance, the first example includes a call to factory_girl's Factory method, yet nothing about factory_girl or the benefits of factories is covered. I only know it's factory_girl being called because the gem's name appears in the copy-and-pasted output from running bundle install 500 pages earlier.

* Tests are rarely used or demonstrated except in the RSpec overview, Working With Active Record (4 test snippets in 39 pages), Action Mailer (once), and Active Record Associations (6 test snippets in 50 pages). Oddly, though, 4 stray instances of using Test::Unit instead pop up when writing a test for a belongs_to association - it's never used again anywhere else in the main part of the book..

Nonetheless, I recommend the book. It's a flawed champ. While there are other great Rails books in the pipeline, The Rails 3 Way offers a lot right now, as long as you're either happy to look past its flaws or skilled enough to mentally fill in the blanks..
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2011
Had I written this review after about a month with this book, I would've given it very high marks. However, after several months with it, attempting to us it in a real Rails 3 project, I find it wanting.

It's billed as a reference for Rails 3, and seems intended as something to have dog-eared, by your side, while cranking out a Rails app. In my experience over the last several months, it has been a source of frustration, providing me with little more than introductory information on topics that, sadly, are better covered by the rails guides or in various blog posts.

The section on Active Record, specifically on querying, is very light. It's mostly a printout/summary of some of the methods available, with no substantive examples, or anything close to what might be required in the real world. AREL is barely mentioned; all we get is a link to the github page.

There are two bigger disappointments: testing and AJAX.

The AJAX section is not remotely sufficient to become effective with the rails 3 Unobtrusive JavaScript stuff, and most of this section is spent on RJS, which the book says is not recommend (so why is it there?). The way in which Rails deals with AJAX, and the tools it provides, are very poorly documented in general, and this is the sort of gap you'd expect this book to fill in. Not the case.

Testing: Testing is not even listed in the index. Let me repeat that: Testing is not even listed in the index. There is a chapter on RSpec, which is wholly out of place, most of the chapter just dealing with general RSPec stuff. There is some rails-specific stuff, but overall this is IT for testing. Again, the tools and APIs Rails provides for testing are powerful, but very weakly documented, and this book completely drops the ball on filling in this crucial gap. I find it rich, since the Rails community prides itself on testing. Additionally, it seems inconsistent with other non-Rails-default choices (Test::Unit being the default); HAML is used in all view examples, yet there isn't even a mention of it as being nonstandard, nor is there so much as a SIDEBAR to explain how it works. While I personally think using HAML was a bad choice, if the case is to be made that it's superior; at least throw people a bone so they understand what it is, why it should be used, and how it works.

A big chunk of the book is simply formatted API documentation. This information can be easily found online, and is far easier to search.

Given all of this, I've found that The Rails 3 Way has not ONCE provided me with the answer to an issue I was having building what I believe to be a very simple website. Every time, I've closed the book and searched the web, often finding clear and cogent explanations; the exact things that should be in this book!

A book that touts itself as a reference for advanced Rails development should provide more in-depth explanation of not just how things work, but how to go about discovering advanced features and diagnosing problems.

If you are looking for introductory material, I'd advise against this, and if you are looking for more advanced coverage, again, I cannot recommend this book.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2011
I have no issue with the contents of the book, only the Kindle implementation thereof.

Listings and tables are converted to images, and some of those are so small that it is all but impossible to read on the Kindle.

Unfortunately, the Kindle for PC version is even worse, the image rendering is pathetic, to say the least.

I've bought 3 other Kindle books from the Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series as well, only Eloquent Ruby and Rails AntiPatterns can be read in their entirety on the Kindle, Service-Orientated Design with Ruby and Rails is as badly delivered as The Rails 3 Way.

At least one can get some of the missing details by looking at the source code repositories for each book, but that is no excuse. If you buy a book (paper copy), surely the expectation is that all pages can be read?
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2011
The Rails 3 Way is not quite a reference manual, nor is it a tutorial.

Before picking this up, you're probably going to want to have hit your head against something in the framework, or have tried to solve something that the framework doesn't necessarily lend itself well to, or just plain gotten stuck on something. In short, I think that you need a fair amount of context before this book is useful in any way. Not enough, and your eyes will glaze over, too much and it will seem to be restating the obvious without giving you any finer points to chew on.

This book's best audience is probably the intermediate Rails developer who has written some rails applications, has a basic understanding of the RoR framework, but still thinks that much of what happens is "magic".

If this is you, this book has much to offer. It covers all the major pieces of developing with Rails 3 from configuration to AREL to caching to writing your own plugins (and more).

For such a developer, The Rails 3 Way is likely to take you from being a haphazard poke-a-stick-at-it programmer to a deliberate, skillful, productive, and confident RoR developer.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2012
This book feels like a hodge-podge mish-mash of Rails knowledge, riddled with errors and inconsistencies (contradicting itself on opposite-facing pages is not uncommon). Too often the book introduces a topic, and paragraphs or pages later will declare said topic defunct. The more attention paid to explanations of features, the more obnoxious they become - nothing is described simply. Instead, one or two highly contrived, barely comprehensible sentences will summarize a feature at the start of a description, followed by long-winded, unguided ramblings of the author's opinions on the feature or useless history. My personal favorites are when the author defers explanations to non-existent blog posts... Really, linking to a blog post in a print publication? Amateur.
The code examples, aside from not having a standard format throughout the book, all work off the same concept of timesheets, which makes not only for unstimulating reading, but the author regularly will miss the point of the feature being described just to contrive some strange use of it to fit into the timesheet paradigm.

This book could be half the length with twice the value if all the fanboy streamofconsciousness bullshit was cut out, and some proper structure/purpose was introduced. As it stands, it's best to read only the first and last sentences of any section, with a quick skim, and look elsewhere for code implementation examples of broad overview functionality descriptions.

There is a lot here, but there's little to be had. A poor excuse for a reference, and a poorer excuse for a guide.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2012
I've been reading this book for about 2 months now and I am not impressed. It lightly glazes over many important topics. It never seems to explain anything in enough detail. The code examples never have enough context to be useful for more than increasing the volume of the book. Just not a good book at all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2011
Like the title suggest, a great Rails 3 reference book that sits next to my monitor for quick access. Obie goes further than the most guides available online. I also agree with his suggestions for using gems to work for you including HAML, RSpec, Authlogic, and Devise. All of the template example code throughout the book is written in HAML. He also mentions other helpful tools along the way.

My only real criticism is the lack of controller environment vars such as 'cookies', 'headers', 'request' and its sub attributes in the Controllers section. He does mention the some of these vars throughout the book, but it was surprising to thumb to the Controller section and find a list of them missing.

All in all a great add to my collection of Ruby and Rails related books. Another great Rails book in the Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series is Rails AntiPatterns: Best Practice Ruby on Rails Refactoring (Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2011
I have loved reading this book. While I do not believe it to be the only book a Rails developer should have, it is a great one to add to the collection hether you are a beginner Rails developer or have some experience. I do recommend that if you are beginning Rails (like me) that you take on the Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl. I also recommend digging into the Rails website and even some Ruby documentation. If you are not familiar with the MVC development pattern, I would also recommend that you become very familiar with it. Rails has a bit of a learning curve, but is very efficient once you get the hang of it. This book will help with those "what if" questions and it will give a few examples on how to do things the "Rails way". I recommend reading it from cover to cover to broaden your knowledge, although it can be used just as well as a reference. Overall this has been a great read!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2011
This is an excellent reference book for advanced Rails 3 users. I usually buy kindle books these days, but this is one of the few books where you would be better off getting the hard copy because it comes in handy as a reference guide.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2013
Invaluable insights into Rails with this advanced text. After a month of cramming on Rails with more basic books by Michael Hartl etc, this was the cherry. Do not start with this book- finish with it.
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