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Advanced Rails Recipes 1st Edition
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About the Author
Clark is a consultant, author, speaker, and programmer. He helps teams build better software faster through his company, Clarkware Consulting, Inc.
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This book does not cover that at all - its main goal is discussing various ways to spruce one's application - by using functions that are not commonly seen, or using various third-party technologies with Rails, like obscure full-text searching tools, or Google Maps. I'm all for the former, and the book has some pretty clever ways of doing things you probably never thought it could do. I find things like Google Maps integration less than interesting, however, since I can easily pull that type of information from myriad of the Rails blogs already out there.
The recipes in the book are clear and concise, and have been easy to implement in my own applications. A broad range of topics are covered, so there will certainly be something for everyone. I've also found that while the recipes are directly applicable, a number of them also teach "patterns" that you can use in a variety of contexts, not just to achieve exactly what's described in the recipe.
Many recipes are related thematically, or build upon each other, making for great teaching. For example, there are four recipes covering how to search for text in fields stored in the database, from extremely simple (a nice way to implement LIKE searches across a couple fields) to three progressively more robust solutions using external full-text search engines (Ferret, Sphinx, and Solr). This sequence really illustrated the trade-offs you can make, in terms of complexity vs. flexibility and power, when implementing search, and was instrumental in my selection of the Sphinx engine and the Ultrasphinx plug-in for doing searches in my projects. Without the clear sequence of recipes, which illustrated implementations of similar searches, I would have had to spend hours on the Internet, searching tutorials and blog posts for details, and the results wouldn't have been as directly comparable. The time savings here alone justifies the cost of the book.
If I was going to write about a limitation of the book, it would have to be the length. At ~450 pages, it's not a slim volume. But with the range of material covered (reflecting the growing complexity of the Rails ecosystem), it's hard to cover any specific topic area in depth. Even with the nicely-covered search topic, I could envision even more recipes. (Advanced search and savable searches come to mind.)
But wanting more is just quibbling. It's not a reason to not buy this book, it's a reason to start asking for Volume 2!
Some of the recipes are meant to be looked at on an as-needed basis, e.g. searching using Solr, Sphinx, or Ferret, and sending email via Gmail. But most of the book can be simply read as a way to learn more about Rails, e.g. customizing error messages, testing with RSpec and Shoulda, and caching strategies and tools.
The book is thoughtfully organized with each recipie being both well written and concise.
No matter what type of Rails application you are writing, or your level of experience, I think you'll find something in this book to make you say "Thats a great idea" and rush to the keyboard to try it out.