What’s up with Ruby on Rails?

Yeah, I’ve been playing around with Ruby on Rails and I gotta’ say it’s pretty slick. Where should I start? Intuitive functions, easy mapping of database table relationships, simple templating (using layout views), MVC (model, view, controller) application architecture…

The MVC structure is nice, but it took me a little time to realize where each piece of the application lived. It also has some data model quirks – all tables must use a plural format naming scheme (e.g., table = users), foreign keys must have a format of “name_id” (e.g., users table foreign key = user_id), column names created_on and updated_on will automatically be populated correctly, etc. You get a sense of these rules as you start to use the framework. The documentation should catch up with these problems eventually. (I hope.)

So it has some limitations, but the real advantage is the generate scaffold command that reads data tables and maps simple html forms and pages for all CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) functions of a database web app. And this is where it seems to leap ahead of php – you can have a functioning dynamic web app in about a half hour. It’s bare bones, but it works. Lots of tutorials and introductions out there. Amy Hoy’s Really Getting Started in Rails is one of the better ones. If you are into book learnin’, Agile Web Development with Rails: A Pragmatic guide is a good place to start. Check it out at http://worldcatlibraries.org/wcpa/isbn/097669400X.

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