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


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

Josh Frankel

Not a good book for starting to learn the language. A much better choice is Michael Hartl's book Learn Web Development with Rails

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).


I met Dave Thomas at a Ruby on Rails class. He really knows his stuff and I refer to his book at work.

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.


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.

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).


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.


Read this if you want to get started learning Rails and already have some programming experience. It doesn't go too far into explaining how Ruby works, so if you are not comfortable diving in all at once, be sure to learn the basics of Ruby before you pick up this book.


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.

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.

Virgilio Pigliucci

I did not finish this... It is a great reading for the first chapters but the technology advancements on this topic are too fast for my reading pace!Waiting to get a copy for the Rails 3 version!

Donald Guy

Through having owned 3 editions, and basically having picked up all the material from other sources in the meantime anyway, after something like 7 years, I finally finished this book. I ... don't really have much more to say about it.

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.

Tom Purl

In general, this book does a fairly good job of helping you create a rails-based application. Part 3 includes some great in-depth information on the topics that are briefly discussed in Part 2. I only have one real gripe about this book. It packs in lots of topics (e.g. db theory, AJAX, unit testing, security, deployment), but it doesn't really tell you much about them. Therefore, if you have a problem, then good luck figuring it out using the content in the book. A good example is the final chapter which covers deployment. The chapter devotes only a few small paragraphs to configuring Apache for passenger. To me, this section was completely useless unless you were already an expert with Apache configuration. I ended that chapter with a broken Apache server and no resources (from the book) to begin fixing it.Another problem that I had with that chapter is that it really didn't follow the pattern that the chapters in Part 2 used. In those chapters, the authors would should you how to do something relatively small, show you how to test it, and then provide some troubleshooting information if the task was particularly complex. The deployment chapter gave you a *very brief and generalized* tutorial in each section, and then just assumed that everything went perfectly. It didn't show you how to test anything, and it didn't help you troubleshoot any possible problems.Don't get me wrong. I know that no book will provide all of the information that I would ever need about a subject, and thank goodness for the internet in these situations. I was just hoping that all of the chapters in a book that I actually bought would provide better information than some person's blog. So in general, I guess I would have to say that this was a very good book with some bad chapters that were tacked-on at the end.

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