Customer Reviews: Sinatra: Up and Running
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on December 14, 2011
An interesting quirk of Scandinavian society is the concept of Jante Law. It knocks down standing out and being individual, in favor of communal harmony. It's typically used in a negative context to lament restrictions and lack of risk taking within Nordic society but the flip side of the Jante coin is "lagom": the idea and ideal of having just the right amount of something.

Sinatra Up and Running is, second to K&R, the most "lagom" technical book I've read. At a mere 102 pages you may wonder whether it's worth buying - it is. Unlike most technical books - yes, including mine - it skips the waffle and provides a perfect level of detail going through from what Sinatra is, to how it works, and on to an example project that covers just 13 pages. Don't be fooled, though, this isn't one of those tiny format O'Reilly handbooks; it's a regular, full size book - just a thin one!

It's a good book and well written. I enjoyed it and picked up or was reminded of quite a few interesting bits and pieces. I'll probably refer to it from time to time. If your Sinatra experiences are rather on and off or you've not played with it for a while, it's a great, well-paced introduction. If, however, you're already a Sinatra guru and/or working with Sinatra on a day by day basis and have all of the main patterns memorized, there's not a great deal you're going to get out of it. Buy it to be a completionist or to support the authors, but if you want a book demonstrating in depth how to integrate Sinatra with everything or how to big giant Web applications, this isn't for you.

Inexperienced Rubyists may also find the book's direct no-nonsense style intimidating. If you know what a code block is, you're good to go. This may seem like a bizarre observation to most Rubyists, but I've encountered many beginners who've wanted to "build a Web site" and immediately leapt into an advanced Rails book, only to be confused. If you're still new to Ruby, read The Well Grounded Rubyist or Beginning Ruby first.

And I'm going to stop here, because that would be lagom :-)
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on January 8, 2012
I can sense the quality of this book. As other reviews have stated, it is clear and concise, and I will keep it on my bookshelf for future reference. It has a certain zen feel, and if you can follow everything in this book, you will be a force of nature.

This is not, however a book for Ruby beginners, or for novice (or perhaps even intermediate) developers looking to Sinatra for an alternative to the complex behemoth that is Rails. Don't be lulled by the thin size of this book: it is dense. After the first chapter, when it considers the rich array of paths Sinatra offers, it delves into the HTTP specification, the underlying architecture of Sinatra, hacking the Sinatra system itself, Rack, and modular applications.

However, these deeper and back-end topics are the entire beast. Besides a cursory few examples in the first chapter, there is little attention paid to organizing applications, design patters, or best-practices. There's not much hand-holding, in other words.

If you see yourself needing to manually distinguish MIME types or define custom HTTP headers, this book seems great. It's a book for computer scientists looking to add another weapon to their arsenal. It is not a book for dilettantes or the inexperienced. However, I have a sneaking suspicion I will come back to this book after I get used the Sinatra system.
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on April 12, 2012
I read this book through in its entirety in just a few days. It was short but thorough, and I thought it covered all the necessities rather well. Even if you don't use either Ruby or Sinatra, I'd recommend picking this up to find out just how simple building web applications should be.
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on January 8, 2014
In the introduction, the authors mention a couple of things about potential readers (the perennial author's dilemma). 1) They should have Ruby experience or else experience building web applications with other systems; and 2) to be patient while you're reading the book if you find something that you already know, and consider that other readers might not.

In spite of those statements, here are my recommendations for a reader's level of experience prior to reading this book:

1) This book is for people who know Ruby, at least at a working level. Before starting this book I had very minimal Ruby experience, but lots of server-side web development experience. Nevertheless, I stopped reading early on and read another book to learn some more Ruby before returning to this book, and it made a big difference.

2) This book is for people who are somewhat familiar with the underlying aspects of web server functionality. Concepts are not explained in much detail.

3) This book is for people who know something about Sinatra and its conventions already. In multiple cases, the authors make a passing reference to a concept as though it's understood (for example, they say "assume you have a folder named 'public' with a file in it" but never explain that it is a Sinatra convention that any static content in the /public/ folder is automatically served by Sinatra). Not knowing this, I was confused by the explanation that followed until I did some research.

4) This book, or at least some of the more advanced parts about Rack, are for people who are familiar with Rails. I am not, so I didn't really understand the analogies and comparisons that the authors make throughout that part of the book.

That's not to say it's a bad book. There's just a big jump between the early content, which is easy to grasp and follow along with by typing in code examples, and later content which quickly goes very deep, which relies on certain prior knowledge in order to understand it, and which doesn't give enough detail to be able to run the code examples. In my server-side experience with other systems, I would never have needed to go to the level of depth of the content in two of these chapters. My feeling is that this book would have been better served by more mid-level content and prescriptive guidance on how to architect applications, versus content that is mostly entry-level or very deep level.

One thing I really like about this book is that although most of the examples are very lean in terms of their practical utility, the entire last section is a full application (a static blog engine that integrates with GitHub for content). Unfortunately I was never able to get that example working -- one improvement would be to have more detail on how to run it and to have the reader start running the code early and often rather than at the very end. In spite of that, I felt like the previous content and the provided explanations were sufficient that I understood every line of code in the project as I was typing it in.
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on April 23, 2013
It's a true rush to build a single file Sinatra web server that does most of what you need for a simple web application. It's double the rush if you've spent time doing Rails development- almost like putting on shorts and a t-shirt after a long winter.

And this book makes is a quick, painless, and worthwhile journey.

It is a fantastic book and you need to get it if you use Ruby for anything, but especially if you use if for Rails. You'll have fun, it'll take less than a day, and you'll be a better Sinatra, Ruby, Rails, or whatever developer.

I avoided Sinatra because I had already learned Rails and figured "why bother?". However, in deciding to migrate an old Rails application I decided to look at JSON and the new MVC JavaScript frameworks such as AngularJS. I had read that Sinatra was often used for web services, and decided to quickly throw up an instance and wire up JSON interfaces as I worked my way back from an AngularJS prototype to my old Rails app. That way I could learn and design with freedom while keeping an eye on where I needed to go. Then, based on the prototype results, I'd create a new Rails 4 project and merge the old and new together.

Now I'm not sure if I need Rails 4- Sinatra is elegant, beautiful and powerful and this book got me up and running at full productivity in less than a day. I'm rethinking Rails design philosophy in the greater freedom Sinatra offers, which, even if I go back to Rails, will only make me a better Rails developer.

This book has no fluff and one one of the things I loved about is that most core concepts are shown via HTTP requests via cURL and the concept of RESTFUL web development is made extremely clear.

Better yet, the second half of the book walks the reader through Sinatra internals showing the way using irb (Ruby's interactive shell) and object introspection. What was magic becomes clear, and gives readers the confidence to use Sinatra to it's maximum.

A final note on Sintra- Sinatra interacts with the Rails ecosystem via the common ground of Ruby, Ruby Gems and Rack, the web-server middleware used by Rails. You can use ActiveRecord, HAML, SASS, Bundler, and create apps that are very similar to Rails in design.
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on January 1, 2012
Finished the book in three hours straight. Content coverage is just right; couldn't think of anything in particular that this book leaves out. And the writing style clear and succinct.

The book explains Sinatra's API very well with simple and (mostly) meaningful examples. The internals are explained in the context of actual Sinatra code or a simplified version if the implementation is a little complicated. I love how the book introduces related information, but essentially beyond the scope of the book, by explaining it a bit and then providing an online resource for further reading - HTTP specific concepts for example.

I would have given them a full five if the hands on example of building a Sinatra application was something more interesting and creative than writing a blog engine (it has become poster boy of all web frameworks :|).
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on March 2, 2013
Like most O'Reilly books, this one starts off easy with a basic introduction to the technology and then ramps up quickly to let you let your hands dirty.

Familiarity with Ruby and Rack is a bonus, and will help the material digest a bit easier.
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on September 20, 2012
Sinatra is a slim framework, and this book follows that example. The author largely avoids inflating the text with irrelevant prattle. The writing is clear, concise, and thorough.

It bogs down a bit near the end, but overall this is a fine, quick read. If you are thinking about working with Sinatra, it is well worth your time and money.
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on October 30, 2012
I'm no Ruby Expert, currently learning Ruby at the moment but don't want to dive into Rails, so I've taken a look at Sinatra since it's what inspired Nancy (which happens to be mentioned in the book)

The book has a few errors, but regardless it's a great book and lives up to it's title by getting you up and running with Sinatra, it takes you through what Sinatra is and how it all works, takes you though building some basic apps, gives you enough information to start building your own applications with Sinatra, and how to extend it.

Definitely worth reading.
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on April 8, 2013
Great book for a great DSL.

Funny when it can be.
Good coverage about Sinatra concepts.
A book to start thinking how web applications can be effective, robust and simple at the same time.

Good job!
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