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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot BirminghamHustle's Avatar
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    Rails learning curve

    I'm getting to a point where I need to code my websites personally instead of outsourcing. I thought Ruby on Rails would be a good starting point - mainly because of it's flexibility, AJAX functions library, and ability to eliminate tedious and repetitive tasks. But, it is a relatively new technology - and one that I don't know much about. So, what's the learning curve with Ruby on Rails? I'm also wondering if it would be better, and easier, to first become proficient in a more widely-used language like PHP and then learn RoR which, hopefully, would make learning Ruby easier. Any advice?

  2. #2
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Learning Ruby on Rails is much easier if you have a grasp on object-oriented programming and design patterns, regardless of language. If you wrote object-oriented code in PHP then you'll find Rails pretty easy to pick up and you'll mostly be wrestling with learning Ruby's syntax. If however you built apps in a top-down scripted fashion all the time you're going to have to learn both Ruby and the objects/patterns that make up Rails.

    In short, knowing PHP won't necessarily make Rails/Ruby easier to learn. Knowing about object oriented programming will though.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    For my two cents, Ruby on Rails has a lot going for it. The clear well defined structure and simplicity of the framework make it easy to understand the resulting code. Therefore it is easier to debug than more complicated languages. The fact that mundane common tasks are done for you means you can concentrate on the functional logic rather than getting bogged down in having to code things like list pagination, and handling validation results.

    What I really like is the fact that it lets me build upon my HTML and CSS knowledge that I've built up with ASP and PHP. With alternatives such as ASP.NET I feel that I am being taken in a different direction - that learning ASP.NET code will replace my HTML/CSS coding skills rather than enhancing them.

    So I don't think developing Ruby on Rails skills will be a bad move. A more difficult decision is whether you would gain more from learning another language first.

    My old driving instructor had a large car. It was his firm belief that if you learnt to drive in a large more difficult to drive car, moving to a small car would be easy, and you'd start out your driving career being able to takle any car. On the other hand if you started to drive in a small drive, you could pass your test, but still find driving large cars daunting.

    If I were to take that analogy to web scripting, if you've learnt something like PHP before, I think you'll be able to pick Ruby on Rails quickly and probably be more willing to dive into more complicated things more quickly. On the other hand if you learnt Ruby on Rails first, PHP would be a step up in complication.

    I'm not sure if that will help. I guess my main point is that there isn't a straight forward answer. There are swings and roundabouts both ways.

    Therefore, I guess my advice is for you to follow the path that best suits your current situation.

    For example, if you want to create an internet site hosted by a third party (your ISP), then your choices are limited and it makes a lot of sense going the PHP route. You can always move to Ruby on Rails later.

    On the other hand if you want to create an intranet application and you have control of the servers hosting the application, I think there is a very strong argument for going the Ruby on Rails route.

    IN fact the more I use Ruby on Rails the more I feel that if you control the server environment, why would you want to use anything other than Ruby on Rails!

  4. #4
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    I think it is good to learn Ruby first and start with Rails later. Ruby is actually very easy to learn (easier than PHP, IMO). But learning Ruby + Rails simultaneously could be too hard.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Enthusiast sax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenrir2
    I think it is good to learn Ruby first and start with Rails later. Ruby is actually very easy to learn (easier than PHP, IMO). But learning Ruby + Rails simultaneously could be too hard.
    Completely agree, and I've walked that path... It took a whole month and two Pragmatic books for me to get through to make my first real piece of code talking (it wasn't the "Hello World" code)... maybe that I'm a slow learner, but good ...not!

    But yes, once you get the hang of it, it's a piece of cake...
    "Be Still Like A Mountain And Flow Like A Great River!"

    Cooking With Your Heart And Soul

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot BirminghamHustle's Avatar
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    Thanks for the help and info Vinnie, ReggieB, Fenrir2, and sax. You guys have been more than helpful. But if I crash and burn on this thing I'm coming after all of you. Just kidding. or am I?

  7. #7
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Good luck with your endeavor. Personally, if you have past progarmming experience it takes very little time. I have past experience on the web with PHP and desktop with C++ down to Visual Basic.

    It took me about 3 days to learn Ruby and another week or so just to get used to all the methods and such for Rails.
    Happy switcher to OS X running on a MacBook Pro.

    Zend Certified Engineer

  8. #8
    SitePoint Zealot BirminghamHustle's Avatar
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    HTML, CSS, and that cliche "echo, hello world" crap is as far as my experience goes. Well, this should be interesting.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Ruby on Rails is another proof that the Japanese are indeed the masters. I first thought - what the hell is this....ruby on rails? But after looking at the code and how it is tightly structured with the database/controller/action namings - I was shocked I didnt know this thing existed.

    Ruby is the best thing that is going to change the focus on "figuring out which OO pattern to use" into doing it automatically with RUBYON Rails.

    Best thing so far! Learning curve - get the book "Agile web development..... with RoR" and you wil be up and running in 3 days with a sensible application.

  10. #10
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    this is good stuff...i just bough kevin yank's book on building database driven websites, so i'm learning php and programming for the first time...the book is really good for non-programmers....however i heard the news today about ruby on rails and this stuff sounds interesting too.

    i dont know the first thing about object oriented programming, so i cant wait for someone to put out a beginners book on ruby (and i need a step by step manual)

  11. #11
    SitePoint Zealot Xavius's Avatar
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    If you want a beginner's book on ruby check out "Learn to Program" by Chris Pine. As the title notes its a book that teaches you the basics of OOL, but all the examples are done with Ruby - making it a great way to learn the basics! I should emphasize that it is for basics though.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Member gluefish's Avatar
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    I think a delightful if funny place to learn Ruby is at http://poignantguide.net/ruby/index.html. Very quirky, but great examples and a way of having you think from inside the language.
    I'd rather have a free bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy

  13. #13
    Mal Reynolds Mandibal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by photo312
    Ruby on Rails is another proof that the Japanese are indeed the masters. I first thought - what the hell is this....ruby on rails? But after looking at the code and how it is tightly structured with the database/controller/action namings - I was shocked I didnt know this thing existed.
    While Ruby itself is indeed the creation of a Japanese programmer, Rails was created by David Heinemeier Hansson who I believe is not.
    Erh

  14. #14
    throw me a bone ... now bonefry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandibal
    While Ruby itself is indeed the creation of a Japanese programmer, Rails was created by David Heinemeier Hansson who I believe is not.
    Danish or Japanese ... they are all jerks that wanna take over the world ... only Chuck Norris can do something `bout it.

    Quote Originally Posted by photo312
    Ruby on Rails is another proof that the Japanese are indeed the masters.
    Kung-fu masters they are. Real Ninjas that are totally sweet.

    Quote Originally Posted by photo312
    I was shocked I didnt know this thing existed.
    Because you know-it-all ?

  15. #15
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    What hardware/software is needed to set up a server at home, running RoR? I have an old PC standing here that I could format into ... well anything.
    Torkil Johnsen
    kampforum.no

  16. #16
    Mal Reynolds Mandibal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by torkil
    What hardware/software is needed to set up a server at home, running RoR? I have an old PC standing here that I could format into ... well anything.
    Any platform and all you need to do is install Ruby then
    Code:
    gem install rails --include-dependencies
    And your almost there. After that everything you need is in the project you create with:
    Code:
    rails myproject
    Seriously. Comes with it's on server so you can start developing right out of the box.

    Go to RubyOnRails.com and check out the wiki. You'll find what you need to get started there.
    Erh


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