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RailsSpace: Building a Social Networking Website with Ruby on Rails (Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series) 1st Edition

28 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 078-5342480795
ISBN-10: 0321480791
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Ruby on Rails is fast displacing PHP, ASP, and J2EE as the development framework of choice for discriminating programmers, thanks to its elegant design and emphasis on practical results.RailsSpaceteaches you to build large-scale projects with Rails by developing a real-world application: a social networking website like MySpace, Facebook, or Friendster.

Inside, the authors walk you step by step from the creation of the site's virtually static front page, through user registration and authentication, and into a highly dynamic site, complete with user profiles, image upload, email, blogs, full-text and geographical search, and a friendship request system. In the process, you learn how Rails helps you control code complexity with the model-view-controller (MVC) architecture, abstraction layers, automated testing, and code refactoring, allowing you to scale up to a large project even with a small number of developers.

This essential introduction to Rails provides

  • A tutorial approach that allows you to experience Rails as it is actually used
  • A solid foundation for creating any login-based website in Rails
  • Coverage of newer and more advanced Rails features, such as form generators, REST, and Ajax (including RJS)
  • A thorough and integrated introduction to automated testing

The book's companion website provides the application source code, a blog with follow-up articles, narrated screencasts, and a working version of the RailSpace social network.

About the Author

Michael Hartl is a programmer and entrepreneur. Before discovering Rails, he used Zope/Python in a startup he cofounded to produce fantasy sports websites, including BracketManager, at the time the number one independent NCAA Basketball Tournament website. Previously, he was a physics instructor at the California Institute of Technology, where he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching. He also served as Caltech's editor for The Feynman Lectures on Physics: The Definitive and Extended Edition (Addison-Wesley). He is a graduate of Harvard College and has a Ph.D. in physics from Caltech.

Aurelius Prochazka is a pioneer of interactive, user-driven websites and has founded several companies, including Creative Internet Design, Inc., and ArsDigita Corporation. After working extensively with many operating systems and web frameworks, he happily calls Macintosh OS X and Ruby on Rails his preferred programming environments. Aurelius is the principal developer of Caltech's main website, as well as its admissions and alumni sites. He is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and has a Ph.D. in computational fluid dynamics from Caltech.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 537 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (July 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321480791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321480798
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Note on the 3rd edition of the Rails Tutorial: Due to a change in the Ruby ecosystem beyond my control, the Gemfiles used in the first printing of the book will break unless you use the sass-rails gem version 5.0.2 or later (not 5.0.1 as shown in the print book).The most up-to-date versions of the Gemfiles are available at and should always be used in place of the Gemfiles shown in the book. (This issue is fixed in the second printing, which as of this writing is in preparation.)

Michael Hartl is the author of the Ruby on Rails Tutorial, the leading introduction to web development with Ruby on Rails. His prior experience includes writing and developing RailsSpace, an extremely obsolete Rails tutorial book, and developing Insoshi, a once-popular and now-obsolete social networking platform in Ruby on Rails. In 2011, Michael received a Ruby Hero Award for his contributions to the Ruby community. He is a graduate of Harvard College, has a Ph.D. in Physics from Caltech, and is an alumnus of the Y Combinator entrepreneur program.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Nate Klaiber on September 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
RailsSpace does an excellent job of teaching Ruby on Rails through a hands-on, real world application. If you are like me then you probably cringed at the thought of yet another social networking site. However, after reading through the first part to this book my apprehensions were put at ease. The authors explained in the opening chapter that "There's a tension in any educational book between the two extremes of pure tutorial and pure reference. We land firmly on the tutorial side of this spectrum--" The audience for the book is anyone beginning with Ruby on Rails. This book assumes no prior knowledge of Rails or Ruby, and sticks to that through the entire book. Each chapter walks you through the process of creating RailsSpace, while also teaching you best practices and some of the nuances of Ruby and the Rails framework.

This book is broken into two main parts, Foundations and Building a Social Network, with each part comprising several chapters each.

Getting Started
With the introduction out of the way, it is time to jump into building the application. This chapter assists you in getting Ruby on Rails and its dependencies on your platform of choice, and then gives instruction for setting up your development environment. Once all of the pieces are in place they move to setting up your rails application, and how to get started with your first pages. They use rails generator to create the controllers and give you an idea of the default routing of a Rails application. The rest of the chapter spends some time building views and using embedded ruby to work with your templates. For the beginner to Ruby or Rails, this part is valuable for the rest of the application. They teach the basics of Ruby and introduce you to instance variables, hashes, and symbols.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Charles Harvey on August 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
For this beginner/intermediate programmer struggling to become a Ruby and Rails expert, RailsSpace strikes a perfect chord.

I have been working through the Safari version of the book until receiving my hard copy yesterday.

I would highly recommend this as the first book on learning RoR after a pure Ruby book such as

Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmers' Guide, Second Edition"(known in the community as the Pick Axe)


Beginning Ruby: From Novice to Professional (Beginning from Novice to Professional)"

two excellent books on Ruby which I found out the hard way is best learned before tackling Rails.

One of the many things that make this book a pleasure to study is the code just works as is. For those of you who have suffered through many Rails books that in the rush to publish have you constantly referring back to 5, 6, or more of errata, it is such a nice surprise to enter code and it just works. I am currently running Ruby 1.8.6 and 1.2.3 the current versions and have had to refer to only one example of errata in the first half of the book.(p.24 gemserver should be gem_server). Kudos to the technical editor for a "getting it correct."

The authors' programming style(s) are easy to read while following and teaching the Ruby/Rails community practices. The book uses output examples after each snippet of code so you can follow along not wondering if what you just did worked.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lee VINE VOICE on August 21, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must have for a beginner Ruby on Rails programmer. It covers all of the basics of building a social networking website in depth. Specifically Railspace goes over: registration, login, user relationships (friends - this is quite complicated for the beginner), search, image uploads, and more... While you could technically use Google and the many Rails forums to find the answers found in this book, using this book is both a time saver and headache preventer (if it were around when I started development on my website).

On a related note, I've read both this book and Practical Rails Social Networking Sites. In my opinion, you should get both books. However if you have to choose one it would depend both on your skill level and taste. Would you rather have more subjects covered with less material, or would you like less subjects being covered more in depth. If you want more detail or if you are just starting ROR development, then I think RailsSpace wins. Still I would get the other book too since they're both pretty cheap (at
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Wood on August 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
The thing I like most about this book is that its readable. You can learn and understand without having to be in front of your PC. I am not necessarily a nuby but I did found that because the authors cover the Rails ideas so well it helped me pick up on some of the finer points and nifty tricks that I have been missing while I learnt Rails.

I am sure the authors will address any shortcomings mentioned by the other reveiwers with respect to choice of a pagination strategy etc.. They have already devoted a section on the website to possible improvements to the book's code.

I also have the Alan Bradburne book and I recommend you get them both. They both have their strengths. Get RailsSpace to help you get a really solid foundation and core user interaction site and Rails Social Networking Sites to get you up and running quickly with everything else.
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