Agile Web Development with Rails: A Pragmatic Guide


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About this book

Rails is a full-stack, open source web framework that enables you to create full-featured, sophisticated web-based applications, but with a twist... A full Rails application probably has less total code than the XML you'd need to configure the same application in other frameworks. With this book you'll learn how to use "ActiveRecord" to connect business objects and database tables. No more painful object-relational mapping. Just create your business objects and let Rails do the rest. You'll learn how to use the "Action Pack" framework to route incoming requests and render pages using easy-to-write templates and components. See how to exploit the Rails service frameworks to send emails, implement web services, and create dynamic, user-centric web-pages using built-in Javascript and Ajax support. There are extensive chapters on testing, deployment, and scaling. You'll see how easy it is to install Rails using your web server of choice (such as Apache or lighttpd) or using its own included web server. You'll be writing applications that work with your favorite database (MySQL, Oracle, Postgres, and more) in no time at all. You'll create a complete online store application in the extended tutorial section, so you'll see how a full Rails application is developed---iteratively and rapidly. Rails strives to honor the Pragmatic Programmer's "DRY Principle" by avoiding the extra work of configuration files and code annotations. You can develop in real-time: make a change, and watch it work immediately. Forget XML. Everything in Rails, from templates to control flow to business logic, is written in Ruby, the language of choice for programmers who like to get the job done well (and leave work ontime for a change). Rails is the framework of choice for the new generation of Web 2.0 developers. Agile Web Development with Rails is the book for that generation, written by Dave Thomas (Pragmatic Programmer and author of Programming Ruby) and David Heinemeier Hansson, who created Rails.

Reader's Thoughts

Michael Economy

[Review of Second Edition]Dave thomas is a pretty good writer, I thought that The Pragmatic Programmer was an excellent book. However, alot of the garbage suggested in AWD makes me doubt how much experience the author has writing scalable, agile, high traffic web-applications.If you go into this book looking to learn how to code with rails, thats fine, but don't expect to learn to program well for the web from this book. Infact, be prepared to ignore large portions of the book.Anyway I guess this review is pretty pointless, this book is about rails 1.X. I do not recommend either using rails 1.X or reading docs on it either. If you're not pretty close to the newest version of the framework you're missing great new features, better performance, better new plugin support, and probably better stability. Reading old docs would be like reading instructions on doing it wrong.


This was the best book I found for Rails web development. If I had to choose between "Simply Rails" and this book, I would choose this book. The reason being that Simply Rails is a very gentle walk through of an example website, and that's about it. This book has that as the first section, and then continues on with more technical discussions of the major moving parts in the rails framework, and thus serves as both a primer and a reference. The 4th edition is due to arrive soon, and is retooled for Rails 3. Anyone wanting to be on Rails 3 should get the 4th edition.


there's too much going on here for this to be accessible to rookie programmers, i found i ended up going through the motions a lot without truly understanding what was going on underneath.


After introducing myself to Ruby, I read this book to become more familiar with the Rails framework. I was very pleased with how this book was laid out. The first section has you dig right into creating a basic storefront by guiding you through the basics of using the Rails framework. This first section teaches you everything you need to create a basic site of your own. The latter sections of the book go into depth regarding each concept you learned in the initial sections as well as other advanced concepts. The progression of the book was very natural and did not try to throw an advanced concept at you without showing you simple examples first on which you could build your knowledge. I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting to see what the fuss is all about regarding Ruby on Rails.

Chris Maguire

Great intro to rails. It felt a little backwards building up a site before going into the details, but it wasn't too bad. I feel confident now that I could sit down at a rails app and at lease have an idea of what's going on. I didn't follow along or do the exercises, which is crucial, and the book was still good. This book changed my opinion of rails from "meh" to "wow". Rails is very powerful stuff. I don't necessarily like Ruby all that much but Rails is a pretty full-featured and capable toolset. This book quickly shows you how much Rails is capable of with relatively little code.

Doğa Armangil

A must-read for Rails developers.

John Chilton

I have only read seven chapters or so of this book, but I really like what I have read so far. This book isn't just about how to write applications in Rails, it is about the process of writing software.


A good book to have read at some point for historical reasons - DHH's involvement kind of makes that an imperative. However, it's dated (actually pre 1.0) so many of the specifics are no longer correct or recommended, and it misses big chunks of what is now conventional rails (RESTful routes for example). A better source for current practice (at least until 3.0) is The Rails Way by Obie Fernandez


Essential reading for savvy designers and developers cleverly boarding the ruby on rails train. All designers should learn to code. Ruby is a beautiful language and rails makes a practical partner to bring your next napkin sketch into reality. This book was written in part by DHH, the creator of rails among other things. That rendered the book a trusted source for conventions and best practices.


Decent book to learn rails. I'm a total noob when it comes to web apps, yet this book was good enough to get me through my first site. The approach they take is to write a full website first, then go back and fill in the details. I think this was a good approach as long as you're willing to do the whole example site along with the book. However, it made it hard to use the book as a reference once you run off on your own. Many times I knew I had seen a topic in the book and couldn't find it later. I suspect this is as good a rails learning book you'll find, but if you're serious about developing in rails this book won't be quite enough. In addition to this one, you'll want to pick up a ruby reference and either a rails cookbook or a true rails reference.

Bruno Bonamin

The best programming book I have ever read. The soft introduction to a new language, paired with an easy-to-follow narrative; which takes you through the building of a real production application while learning the Rails framework, makes this book amazingly enjoyable besides from interesting.

Angus McDonald

One of my first reads about Ruby on Rails, and still the best starting point for anyone new to RoR. The fact that it takes an Agile view is a plus and is what got me interested in Agile development in the first place.


Essential reading for the aspiring Rails developer. These guys helped popularize Ruby and Rails with their early books on the subjects and the latest editions cover the new versions of each very well. Old Rails hands will not find much reason to be excited about this one.

Jevgeni Holodkov

It was one of the books with I read using rapid reading techniques. It means, that my review is going to be biased. I liked the book - the first part was a hands-on tutorial on building a rails application from stratch. I believe it covered all the most popular issues we have when building web applications. The book includes information on how to do automated testing, like functional and unit testing. However, it expects to enter all commands to the rails console and does not always provide "results" in the book. The second part described implementation details and why Rails works. That part was harded to read rapidly as it contained API descriptions, etc. I rated this book as 3/5, since for me it would be more appropriate to learn just what API is available. The rest of that I will not memorize anyway, so I will go to the documentation instead, when needed. At the same time, this book gave me a pretty good overview on rails. I recommend reading the first part and skim the second part and get the rest of the knowledge from documentation instead (when needed).

Pangiotis Atmatzidis

The intro says that you can keep up if you don't know ruby and with relatively little CSS/HTML but I don't think so. I don't know much about CSS or HTML but I know ruby and have written two applications using Sinatra and MVC. Everything seems easy, I am trying to cope with the abstraction level but I wouldn't say that this book is for beginners. On the other hand I like its approach, goes directly to web development without loosing too much over various subjects, rails is a framework after all, nothing more.

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