Ruby on Rails: Our Choice for Web App Development

July 6, 2010

Over the last year or so, we’ve used Ruby on Rails for development of our largest web applications here at Gatorworks. Ruby on Rails is one of the so-called “opinionated” web frameworks out there. By opinionated, I mean that it makes a lot of assumptions for you. It assumes that you’re building a web app, which means that your app will live in a browser, probably connect to a database, need to create, read, update and delete records, and that your app’s files would be best served by being organized in a particular way, among many other things. Before Rails and other frameworks like it, every time you wanted to create a new web app, you’d have to rewrite the portions of the app that are common to every web app. By giving you sensible defaults to start from, it enables programmers to start at, say Level 7 on each web project, instead of Level 1. This cuts down time and cost on web application projects.

Another useful aspect of going with Rails for a web project is that you’re using a framework which tons of other people use as well, which enables you to use plugins created by the community. That also saves you a lot of time and programming effort. For instance, most web applications are going to need some sort of login system. With Rails, you can either build your own custom solution, or you can choose from a bunch of plugins which are well documented and tested for security issues because of all the other people programming with Rails. As of right now, the number of plugins for Rails is well into the hundreds of thousands. Basically, anytime that you decide you’d like to do something that other people might have a use for too (connecting to Facebook, Twitter, uploading images, etc), chances are pretty good that it has already been written. Also, another benefit of using a framework that lots of other people use is that as a developer, it’s pretty easy to look at a Rails app you didn’t write and quickly figure out what’s going on, because the layout of the app is familiar.

Then, you can’t mention Rails without mentioning Ruby, the programming language that it was built on top of. Ruby is a young language, built by a Japanese developer named Yukihiro Matz Matsumoto, and released in 1995. It is elegant, concise (in general, it takes a lot less Ruby code to get something done than it would in another language), and it’s easily readable/understandable compared to other languages.

These things combine to make Ruby on Rails our number one choice at Gatorworks for building web applications. It lets us get things done and go from idea to code in less time than anything else we’ve used.

Here are some projects that we’ve developed using Ruby on Rails: