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

Harri Kauhanen

The same book than the second edition (I read many years ago). But updated for Rails 3. Couple of sections were not written in this beta edition, but they should be very useful for Rails newbies.

Said A

Ruby on Rails intro for complete beginners. Online rails guides are great companion. Would suggest reading rails code for better understanding of rails internals. Sstart with the ActiveSupport's code.


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.

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.

Do─ča Armangil

A must-read for Rails developers.


I've read the 1st edition and now the 3rd edition. Still seems like the best book for a rails newbie. My nitpick: this book doesn't have a concise roadmap to what's new in Rails 3.


Rails is my 1st framework I've paid any attention to, and it looks like a lot of fun. It also looks like there are a lot of rules to follow. I'm sure I'll be able to break the rules once I figure a few things out with Rails, and maybe this book will get me there.

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.

Thomas Wolfe

Suggested by my friend Kory. I read the beta version of this book. Again, in some ways I prefer books with a few errors, keeps me on my toes. I've got a few ideas on what I'm going to build with this new tool, I'll post back here when I do (although now I kind of want to play with jquery since I really know nothing about that library and it could prove useful in rails, or well any type of web apps). It's quite verbose, but I guess for people who want their hand held a bit (I'll admit, hand-holding is sometimes appreciated) that's okay. It's a good book, but it's lacks a literary tact that made why's guide so much fun. It's 100% technical with a few rough attempts at humor. I guess you could say, it's the same as most of the rubbish literature in our profession, good for learning how to do something (sadly unimaginative as it's still in the realm of business apps) but not much else. I can only recommend this book if you want to get acquainted with rails. I guess I'm going to have to keep looking for my fix of good technical and literature content, Why's gone and Joel Spolsky's work only goes so far. I guess I just need something new and different of the same quality to inspire me (after reading this book, I need it).


read it for the last few chapters which is Rails in depth. it is really worth.


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.


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


I read the first 100 pages last night. I'm really starting to like this rails stuff. This is really helping me get a handle on Rails. Good stuff.


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.


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.

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