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on August 13, 2012
Not only is this the best Rails book on the market, it is the best tech book I've ever read! Michael Hartl is a great teacher. You won't be disappointed.

Also - most, if not all of the 1 star reviews you see are due to the printing error of the book. It is due to the publisher, and out of Michael's hands.

What are you waiting for ? Grab yourself a copy, and thank me later :)

Update Dec 10, 2012: I just wanted to pop in and say that the learning experience produced some fruitful results. After learning Rails from this book, I created an internal website as part of my job and received a lot of praise. I love Rails now, and I really hope Michael comes out with an "Advanced Rails" book. I'd be one of the first in line to grab it.
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on November 1, 2012
I have never before worked my way through a tutorial in which EVERYTHING happens exactly the way the author says it will, but that's how this book has gone thus far (I'm about 1/3 through). I am new to web development and database development, and I really appreciate the step-by-step approach. The first chapter is a masterpiece, taking you from installation on your PC, to deployment on a "real" server, and even teaching you to use github along the way. I've never said, "OMG, it actually WORKED!" so many times in a single evening. Highly recommended.
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on May 13, 2013
Perhaps I don't share the same learning methodologies as the other reviewers here, but I had to stop the book 80% of the way through. The first few chapters are pretty good, you do something simple, say type a few lines of code, then it's explained to you what you did and why you did it, so you really learn.

However as you go on and the application you're building gets more and more complex you he basically just give you the lines of code to type (10 - 50 lines usually), says a few sentences about what you just did, and then you repeat the process until you're brain has flatlined for the night, at the point where I'm in the book (second to last chapter) I've basically been reduced to a transcriptionist monkey and I haven't learned a thing about Ruby on Rails in probably 3 or 4 chapters, with the exception of a few concepts I mapped out and figured out myself because they were the reason I picked up the book in the first place.

When I first dove into this book it was really fun and I was doing 70-100 pages a night, now I've been reduced to 30-50 pages because it's all my brain can stand. I'm going to stop and complete this book after I've learned a bit more from other sources, my advice: read this until it stops being fun, learn some more elsewhere, and then finish this book and re-read it so it will make more sense. That's what I'm going to do.

I'd like to add that the author has done us all a great service by writing this book, continually updating and posting it on his website for free, it's just not something I'm finding very useful right now.

UPDATE: after spending a few days away from the book and building a small blog application, I'm SHOCKED at how much I've absorbed from reading the first 10 chapters of this book, I stand by my review that the way it's taught is absolutely mind-numbing, but it works, no pain no gain I guess. When seeing all these examples on such a large-(ish?) scale they are very easy to mimic in a smaller scale application while making total sense. I've updated my star rating to reflect the amount of the book I found useful, 80% = 4 starts.
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on June 8, 2013
Michael Hartl has been extremely helpful in getting me up and running again with a correct copy of the book. He has provided a stellar example of customer service. It has been a pleasure to do business with him.

It is clear that the bookstore where I purchased this is selling a very old, uncorrected version of the book. While the copyright says 2013, that copyright is a typo in the original 2012 print run.

Hartl has contacted the publisher and informed them that not all recalled copies were indeed recalled. Hopefully, they'll be able to track down any remaining bad copies and replace them.


I just bought the 2013 reprint of this book. It's probably a great book, but it has a VERY SERIOUS flaw, making the book entirely unusable.

It is missing the angle brackets, double-quotes, single-quotes, vertical bars, and backslashes from all code samples, and is missing the underscore character in the body text. The result is a *completely* unusable book. If you don't know which characters are missing from a sample, typing in that sample code and running it will result in code that won't execute, followed by a guessing game to try to make it run. Since this is a book for beginners, the chances of most beginners being able to make the correct guesses are nil.

As an example, there is a snippet demonstrating the difference between two strings - one using single quotes and one using double quotes. The type of quotation marks used is significant, because it determines what you need to enter for backslash characters. Here's what it looks like in the book:

Newlines ( n) and tabs ( t) both use the backslash character .
Newlines ( n) and tabs ( t) both use the backslash character .

As you may note, a reader might have some difficulty determining which of those lines has single quotes, which has double quotes, and what the difference is in backslashes between the two.

Similarly, the following is what a typical code sample looks like (sorry, Amazon strips out the indentations, so it's a bit harder to read than it should be):

title % = full_title(yield(:title)) % /title
% = stylesheet_link_tag application , :media = all %

In the above, there are 26 missing angle brackets, and possibly some missing quotes, some of which may be single, and some of which may be double, but you can't tell unless you already know the syntax of the language that you bought the book to learn.

Every single code snippet in the book is similarly unusable, and the explanatory text accompanying it is often wrong due to missing underscores in references to file names or variable names that should have underscores. So far the text appears to be clear, but after 130+ pages of guessing what's missing from the code, I'm having a hard time feeling motivated to continue.

The reprint needs to be scuttled and re-reprinted, ensuring that the fonts used are compatible with the printer, so that all the characters appear. A replacement copy from the publisher would be nice...
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on February 12, 2014
My co-workers at work recommended other books as a starting point for learning rails but based on the user feedback, I decided to try this book first. I have done prior web development with other technology stacks (mainly using Java based frameworks), so although I was a complete novice to Rails, I was not a novice with web technologies (CSS, HTML, Javascript). I also studied Ruby using two books (Eloquent Ruby and The Well Grounded Rubyist) before attempting this book - although the author says that prior Ruby knowledge is not required (and he is right), it helped me to not think about Ruby code as much as it made sense the moment I saw it (i.e., it looked very familiar) and it certainly helped the situation given the amount of information that had to be assimilated in this book.

This is an extremely well written tutorial for novices in Rails, and Ruby. I very much liked the author's style of test driven development where he writes tests first before writing any code for accomplish the task at hand. The code samples are nicely rendered and I have typed everyone of them out and tested them - they worked flawlessly. The author says his aim is to teach web development with rails and he definitely succeeded in accomplishing that. I found the first half of the book reasonably easy to follow and with latter half things get progressively difficult. Towards the last chapter or two, it wasn't very clear as to why we are doing what we are doing. I can certainly sympathize with "been reduced to a transcriptionist monkey" comment from another reviewer and I also felt more or less the same. However, I don't think this is the author's fault. A lot of ground is covered in the last couple of chapters and since the chapters continually build on one another, it seemed as though one has to assimilate prior chapters properly to follow the current one. Although I am done with one reading of the book, I have come to the conclusion that it won't suffice. I would have to build couple of apps on my own using the techniques and concepts illustrated in the book (along with some of the more advanced exercises) in order to properly digest the material.

The author says that this book will give enough foundation to persue other advanced books and that certainly seems so. I'll be checking out at least one or two other rails books to strengthen my foundations.

Well deserved kudos to the author. Two thumbs up! Highly recommended.
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on November 13, 2012
This could be one of the best books ever written about software development. Certainly among the best I've read, and I've been through many.

The one gotcha of the book is that it plows forward rapidly, often through advanced software development concepts, and I fear that inexperienced or newbie developers will not be able to catch up.

Michael Hartl writes in a concise, clear and effective manner, both in text and code. He took me from zero knowledge of rails or ruby, to being able to work on my own project, where I find that I actually understand what I'm doing (most of the time).

While other books consider it enough to teach you code that shows some text in the console or run something from your local machine, Michael realizes that a modern web developer needs much more than that, and teaches you how to get your application to run on a real production environment, and backed up on a remote source control repository.

I also want to commend the book for being one of the precious few I've seen where Test Driven Development is introduced properly. Other books introduce tests almost as an afterthought, in a manner that makes examples harder to read or code harder to follow.

Michael and Rails have scored a fan thanks to this wonderful book.
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VINE VOICEon March 15, 2013
Ok - so this is probably the best Rails tutorial out there. It's pretty complete and systematic.

My main issue comes from the organization. Let's say you're brand new to Rails. In order to start using Ruby on Rails, there's a lot of stuff you need to pick up: some HTML, CSS, a little Ruby, the Rails framework itself, some JavaScript, git (and in this book heroku). It's a lot.

Right from the beginning the author introduces test driven development TDD. This is kind of an advanced topic - the subject of books itself. Now, as a newbie you're finding yourself with test errors. Because this is new material, you don't know if it's a rails mistake or something in rspec. Debugging when you haven't got a clue is hard, and you really can't progress until you fix stuff.

I'm a good half way through the tutorial and I really don't completely get how routing works - and that is absolutly key to working on any size rails app.

I wish there was something better, but I don't think there is.
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on February 9, 2014
I bought this as my first book to introduce me to rails and was very impressed. You learn by doing, as the entire book has you pretty much building a twitteresque website while learning how everything works as you go. Great way to start off on one of my favorite programming languages.

Pros: Easy to follow, learn by creating, tons of resources. Michael Hartl (the author) has his own rails website to address this book specifically and has code on github and other places that makes this book especially helpful.

Cons: The only con I found was that some of the recommended software was outdated but this is common as books do not keep up with tech. Hartl makes it easy to remedy this as well by listing multiple sources, including his own, that you can utilize.

Bottom Line: If you've ever wanted to create a website, design a program or just automate something, then Rails is the language for you, and this is the perfect start.
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on October 2, 2012
I just got the 2nd Revision for the kindle. I'm sure this has little or nothing to do with the author, but almost every page is rittled with "Click here to view code image" hyperlinks. They don't download with the book. I doubt I'll waste my time on the kindle version and just go buy the hard copy instead.
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on December 10, 2012
This book was one of my favorite technology books (I have read a lot on many technologies and languages). The organization of the chapters and information within was perfect for me. Many more difficult concepts are explained in the second half of the book, some I didn't fully grasp, but as the author said, I kept moving and it made sense later. I have been developing a few Rails apps and getting real comfortable since this purchase. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who really want to get off the ground with RoR and really know what they are doing.

I would love to see Hartl come out with an add on, the next level of training. There is so much in Rails to learn, and it really is addictive.
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