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By Errol Schmidt

The Benefits of Ruby on Rails

The Benefits of Ruby on Rails - How Popular is Ruby on Rails Still?

Why do we love Ruby on Rails?

For its entire existence, reinteractive has specialised in Ruby on Rails, and continues to this day to use Rails as its sole software framework (with the exception of frontend frameworks, particularly for mobile applications). And it is for good reason that we have chosen to stay with Rails, some of which I will go over below. It is the programming language that works just as well for big enterprise applications, as well as smaller startups and everything in between. Many of the applications you use every day are using Ruby on Rails for part or all of their technology stack. It is a versatile, powerful framework, and due to the strict way in which it is implemented, great for working with teams. reinteractive continues to provide full time Ruby on Rails development services, as well as ongoing maintenance services for Rails applications.

The benefits of building with Ruby on Rails

Chief amongst these is that it is often easy for a number of developers to work on a single application without tripping over each other, and because it is a very standardised framework, it is easy for a new developer to pick up a correctly written Rails application and be up and running on it, ready to write new code. Rails is what we call an opinionated framework. This means that it forces developers to write code in a predetermined pattern. This makes it easy for another developer to understand what is happening in that code reasonably quickly.

Rails has been around since 2003 and has been continuously evolving since then, incorporating best practices for web applications as they have changed, as well as continuously improving speed, stability and security. And while it is a very mature language today, it continues to be iterated by the founder of the language, as well as a massive team around the world.

Due to its long history, and the fact that it is used by so many big businesses around the world, Rails has developed a massive library of code (called Gems) that are updated as versions improve. These Gems are used by Rails developers to carry out predetermined common use functions. An example of this might be a gem to send an email out from your application, another might be a gem to provide payment processor integration. This massive library makes developing on Rails faster and easier. Since many of these gems are ubiquitous they are thoroughly tested in real world applications. The developer can use them knowing that they are optimised, and work as stated. This leaves them to develop the stuff that is unique to your application.

That long history also means that there are many Rails developers around the world who can help develop or maintain an application written in Rails. The efficiencies that we have already discussed in this article have meant that Rails developers have been able to spend time on developing and improving their open ability to code and problem solve, so you see a large number of more senior developers in Rails. And since it has been around for a while there are lots of concerns already addressed and resolved.

Security and Stability

A well rounded and business ready programming language needs to be updated routinely. Constant security vulnerabilities need to be patched as they are discovered, and stability concerns addressed. Speed is also a factor, with even millisecond improvements important in large scale applications.

Ruby on Rails has constant development to address all of these concerns, and with the framework being open source, can be accessed by developers to update existing applications rapidly. And with a worldwide community of developers, including big business players, upgrade issues get resolved rapidly.

Maintenance Costs

The Rails framework includes a strong philosophy of testing. That means developers are encouraged to write and maintain automated tests for every feature as they are written. This, combined with the earlier noted efficiency in on-boarding developers means that maintenance costs can be quite low.

I have personally seen applications that have had no on-going development for a couple of years, brought to us for new features, and the developers are able to jump right in. Other complex applications needing no major feature work can be cared for on a very minimal number of hours per month.

Cost to develop

We already discussed the way in which Rails developers can work together where the framework is known in advance. Properly documented, developers can on-board fast. The ecosystem of Gems also means that already-solved work can be reproduced in your own application by simply installing the publicly available Gems and plugin in your own variables to get a known result. All of this speeds up development time and makes bug fixing that much easier as well.

Full Stack Framework

Rails is known as a ‘Full Stack Framework”. This means that it incorporates the backend server queries and manipulation, front end rendering to HTML, incorporating required JavaScript and CSS to produce the fully dynamically rendered version of the application for the end user. Not many frameworks are this versatile. It means that if you wanted to, a single developer could program out an entire application without bringing in other specialists. If a project has more than one developer, those devs can work on building complete features or complete tickets without having to refer around. This, in itself, is an efficient way to work. It doesn’t however, preclude the use of other frameworks, such as React or Angular to render front end if it is required for any reason, and Rails performs seamlessly with other options in this case.

Scalability

The final exceptional quality that I want to introduce in this article is regarding scale. No start up ever builds an app (I would hope) with that idea that it is not going to grow. If that is the case, then why build your application on a platform that will not grow? You may say it is a point of economy, and while I understand that budgets are always important, selecting a programming platform that can scale into the future does not cost more.

Ruby on Rails has been specifically designed so that it is simple enough to be able to cater to basic applications and even low interaction websites, but has the potential to be run up to the very largest of applications without falling over. If your app is set up right in the first place you will not find yourself having to re-write enormous chunks of code (or the entire application) just because the number of users of your application has increased.

Ruby on Rails Examples

At the start of this article I alluded to the fact that some of the applications you are probably using every day use Ruby on Rails. So you probably want to know what some of those are;

Shopify

Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce solutions available today. It is estimated that Shopify run sites account for an incredible 24% of all online sales - running just behind Amazon and eBay. Shopify is committed to the Rails community and ecosystem and its future.

GitHub

GitHub is used by the vast majority of software developers to store and version the code they are writing and deploying. GitHub stores the code for millions of applications.

And a few others that you are doubtless familiar with: AirBnB, SoundCloud, Etsy, and ZenDesk to name just a few.

Need help with your Ruby on Rails Web development?

Reinteractive has been developing Rails applications since 2012. We have built up a team of senior developers and management staff that are examples of the best the industry has to offer.

We are happy to take on existing applications that need to be brought up to standard, maintain well running applications, build major features on existing codes, or start new projects right from the UX phase.

We even have a DevOps team that specialise in hosting Rails based applications on AWS or Heroku.

Our technical specialists are available to have a conversation with you and discuss your needs and recommend a path forward.

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