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Agile Web Development with Rails: A Pragmatic Guide (Pragmatic Programmers) 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0976694007
ISBN-10: 097669400X
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Editorial Reviews


"It's early days for the language so it's no surprise there's only a handful of books out there. Yet it's hard to see why you would need anything more than Agile Web Development with Rails. Programming books, in particular, rarely seem to answer queries straight away, but this one tackles the myths surrounding Rails straight off, and in plain English. But don't panic, it's not a Dummies guide - it will teach you how to use Rails to eliminate tedious web app configuration and, crucially, how to integrate it into AJAX." .NET, December 2005

About the Author

Dave Thomas, as one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto, understands agility. As the author of "Programming Ruby," he understands Ruby. And, as an active Rails developer, he knows Rails.

David Heinemeier Hansson is the creator of the Rails framework.

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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Product Details

  • Series: Pragmatic Programmers
  • Paperback: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (August 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 097669400X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976694007
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,023,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. de Mare on July 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ruby on Rails is a pretty young technology. Its first release was midway 2004, and it has been gathering momentum since late 2004. It has yet to see its official 1.0 release. So it is a pleasant surprise that there already is a book available (electronically since June 2005), and that it such a good book!

Why read this book? Since Dave Thomas' credentials as a technical writer are well established (pick up The Pragmatic Programmer if you haven't got it already), this question boils down to: why learn more about Ruby on Rails?

For me, the answer was that I have long been looking for a simpler way to build web-applications. I'm a J2EE developer, and it seemed that every project I joined had a different set of frameworks. All of those frameworks could be configured to work together, and there are even frameworks whose only purpose is to make other frameworks work together. There are tools that generate stubs to wrap frameworks, and frameworks that wrap other frameworks, so that the developer needs not know what the underlying framework is.


Rails behaves as if it were one framework. Configuration is simple (no xml) if you need it at all, since the defaults are pretty smart. Writing tests for your model and your controllers is actually easy. The API documentation is very good. Instead of mucking around with frameworks, you find yourself thinking: What do you want to do today?

Drawbacks: Is Ruby on Rails slow? Performance is acceptable, I think, especially considering that web applications are database-bound. Rails also scales well - and anyway, processors are cheap, brains are not.

Is Rails proven technology? Clearly it's not, it's the new kid on the block.
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Format: Paperback
This book was in development through July 2005 and provides a timely introduction to the excellent web framework Ruby on Rails. Rails is a full stack, open-source framework in Ruby (see rubyonrails.com). I can think of no better way of learning Rails than buying this book (and Programming Ruby, "Pickaxe 2", if you are a Ruby newbie) and working through the hands-on bookstore building exercise in a weekend. "Agile" development takes center stage, as you might imagine from the title. Because of the dynamic nature of Ruby and the way Rails extends the core language, Ruby on Rails lets you easily modify, run, and test web apps.

The first part of the book (Chapters 4 to 12) shows how to develop a bookstore app in an iterative fashion. A mock client asks for improvements and the authors show how you build a web app that meets the client's needs. A number of best practices have been distilled from other languages/platforms, and you'll see how they come together coherently in Rails. The Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern for separating data, presentation, and business logic. Integrated testing. Ways to not repeat yourself across code and configuration files. Active Record pattern for handling data sources. In addition to what's taken from other platforms, the Rails developers extensively use the metaprogramming features of Ruby to wrap these best practice ideas in a nice domain specific language, and this book gives you a good overview of the Rails web app language. "Convention over configuration" is another key to Rails development, and a number of figures show the Rails convention in directory layout, naming, and URL mapping.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rails, or more appropriately Ruby on Rails is the new web application development framework that everyone is so excited of and raving about how it cuts development time by a factor of 10 and does away with the cumbersome XML configuration files that are the hallmark of J2EE.

Being an old Java hand, I wanted to see firsthand if there was some substance beneath all the hype. I was also intrigued by the fact that many other old Java hands whom I respect and admire, like James Duncan Davidson, Elliotte Rusty Harold, Bruce Tate, Graham Glass, and Brian McAllister are now fervent (to different degrees) rubyists and Rails-enthusiasts. If it weren't for them, I would never have undertaken this journey, probably.

But anyway, this is supposed to be a book review, not a chronicle of my ongoing discovery of Rails.

I mostly like using books to discover and learn about new technologies, so it's perfectly natural that I decided to take off with what is considered the book about Rails. And how could it be not, with Rails' creator David Heinemeier Hansson as one of its authors?

It is also the only one published so far but, even though the choice was a bit, uhm ... limited, I wasn't disappointed. The book, as is customary with titles from The Pragmatic Programmers' bookshelf, is very good. It lays down in detail almost everything you need to know to be productive with Rails, save for the language Ruby itself. To be honest, the book includes an appendix introducing the basics of Ruby, but it's just the bare minimum. I suggest getting yourself a good Ruby book (like Programming Ruby, also from The Pragmatic Programmers, which I am currently reading and will review shortly) if you really want to get the most out of Rails.
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