Getting Started with Rails 4.0

Gettigng Started with Ruby on Rails 4

There are some cool new changes in Ruby On Rails 4 , but adding so many new features makes it challenging to learn it all and keep up. Fortunately, there are a bunch of awesome new books and resources that are popping up all over the place.

I’ve read three of the most current titles I could find on the subject: the classic Ruby on Rails Tutorial, Agile Web Development with Rails and Rails 4 In Action. All are great books, but depending on your interest you may want to choose one over the other.

I’ve personally used and endorse all of the following titles for learning Rails 3 or 4. Give them a try and see which works for you.

Before You Start

Even though these books start out pretty basic, it’s good to have knowledge of things like, well, some Ruby, the MVC design pattern and general programming knowledge. Also, you should understand HTML and CSS work as well as some basic knowledge of JavaScript and jQuery.

Each book will walk you through the basics of these concepts (each in a slightly different way), but you’ll learn more (and retain more) with the basic concepts already in your brain.

Ruby On Rails 4 Tutorial

rails-4-tutorial

Rails Tutorial

The Ruby On Rails Tutorial is probably the best way to start. This book starts out as basic as you can get, but you end up with a pretty cool Twitter clone when you’re finished. Each chapter demonstrates a single concept with some practical “playtime” activities at the end of each.

The author doesn’t specifically cover Rails 4, but his online version of the book (which is free by the way) contains an additional chapter which will “upgrade” the example project.

Another cool thing the author, Michael Hartl, has done, is to create a video tutorial course. It follows along with the book examples and is not cheap at $100. But, considering how in-depth the book is, and depending on your learning style, it may be just the thing for getting started even faster. If I started over I probably would have gotten the bundled book + video.

As a bonus perk, he also covers Rails 4 in this video course. You can check it out here.

Agile Web Development with Rails

Agile_Web_Development_with_Rails

Agile Web Development with Rails

Agile Web Development with Rails (4th Edition) is your next step for a good introduction. This is written by the excellent gang at the Pragmatic Book store. They have written some of the best programming books you can buy and this one is another great title. It also is co-authored by [David Heinemeier Hansson], the creator of Rails. So this may be a subtle endorsement that this is THE book to get started. I’ll let you be that judge.

It goes into some alternative details and builds out a full shopping-cart application, which is probably a more pragmatic ahem choice than the previous one, but it also allows you to explore some new frontiers.

While this book covers Test Driven Development, it doesn’t focus as much in this area as in the previous book, so if that is your interest, you may want to keep that in mind.

A final nice perk is that the application tutorial covers about 2/3 of the book and the rest is a focused look at each area of Rails such as: Active Record, Caching, plugins, etc. It becomes a handy reference.

Rails 4 In Action

rails-4-in-action

Rails 4 In Action

My last suggestion is a brand new book1 which you can get now only in eBook format. It’s titled Rails 4 In Action and is probably tied with the previous book for being up-to-date with the latest snazzy additions.

The reason I suggest this last is that it is definitely a more dense, challenging read than the previous two. I would even go so far as to say it’s an intermediate-level read: it explains less about some programming concepts and assumes more knowledge of coding practices. It’s less hand-holdy and might not make the best beginner book.

I was delighted to find this title to provide some other examples to learn from. It’s expanding the knowledge foundation laid by the two previous ones.

If you want to get started quickly with Rails , check them out.

Post Image Credit: Stigster via Flickr: CC License


  1. It’s officially published on September 26, 2011.

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