Thomas McGoey-Smith

So You Want to Learn Rails. But Where Do You Start?

I’ve been interested in Rails for a couple of years now. I do admit, it’s been a bit on and off for things like Go, and event Node.

But I’m jumping back into Rails. So where do you start?

Learn Ruby (You’ll need it after the CRUD)

You’ll need to pick up some of the syntax. If you’re just wanting to get your feet wet, checkout Try Ruby.

But, if you’re in it for the long haul, pick up a paper copy (yes, paper is sooo much easier to use when you’re just starting out) of the Programming Ruby - famous Pickaxe Book.

Start by writing some simple command line apps.

Getting a Grasp on Rails

So you know enough of Ruby (well, just the basics) to be dangerous.

Understanding Rails, is more than just understanding code. It’s a huge beast. I would recommend the Rails Tutorial Book. You work through building a Twitter clone from scratch (employing some good practices like TDD - test driven development).

If you’ve worked through the Rails tutorial book, another great book that’s a bit more technical is Agile Web Development with Rails 4 book.

Moving beyond the CRUD

So by now, you’ve built two or so small Rails apps. But to fully understand Rails, you need to start something on your own.

Pick a small project that has a more complex data model - something like a warehouse tracking application or better yet build something you’re really interested in.

When you get stuck, don’t jump right to Google or StackOverflow. First, jump into the Rails Guides.

Next, checkout the Rails API. Sometimes you need to really understand a method, and the API will come through.

Sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge to pin-point part of the API, so I find that picking up a tool like Dash (if your on a Mac) reall helps. Else, checkout DevDocs - similar to Dash but can just be used from a web browser.

@tamcgoey on May 29, 2015

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