A deer in the woods

Ruby on Rails Explained for Front-End Developers

Over the course of the past month I’ve been spending my evenings and weekends learning Ruby on Rails. I’ve always been curious about Rails, but only recently have had some upcoming projects at work prompted me to take a deeper dive and finally learn it properly.

Although I am a Front-end Developer, I thoroughly enjoying understanding the ‘other side’ of web development. Learning how data is created and moved around in the backend is quite fascinating to me. I wrote a bit more about it here, if you’re interested.

Being a front-end guy who works around Rails, I don’t feel like a complete noob. I understand the basic concepts and structure of the MVC pattern. It’s the specific syntax and test driven development where my learning curve lies.

Thus far in my training I’ve been going though Michael Hartl’s ‘Learning Ruby On Rails‘ book. It’s a fantastic book that walks the user step-by-step through getting the ubiquitous twitter-style app up and running (kind of the ‘Hello World’ of Rails development). I’ve also signed up for a number of both Ruby and Rails events here in town to meet other folks that are working in Rails. My goal is to be able to call myself a Rails developer at some point. I think I’m well on my way.

Last week I ran across a new book that may have been written just for me. “Ruby On Rails Explained for Front-End Developers” by Miles Matthias has a title that made me pick up as soon as I saw it released. It’s a short e-book at just 17 pages, but what it lacks in depth it makes up for in breaking down the basics of the structure of Ruby on Rails in a short, concise manner. In fact, I’ve enjoyed it’s to-the-point brevity so much that I’ve actually printed it out and keep it tucked into the Hartl book. They’re both heavily marked up and highlighted.

Due to my prior experience, much of the information simply serves as a reminder to me about the structure and purpose of each peice of the Rails environment. I’ve found myself using it mostly as a reference when going through the more in-depth Hartl book. That isn’t a knock on the book. Quite the contrary; it serves as the perfect companion to it. For instance, if I need to remind myself how cache busting works, I can quickly flip to a page in Matthias’ book rather than digging through the much larger ‘Learning Ruby on Rails’.

If you’re a Front-end Developer that needs to get your hands dirty every now and then and venture outside of the ‘Views’ folder to figure out what the heck the ‘Asset Pipeline’ is, then this book was written just for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a deeper dive into Rails, then I recommended picking up Hartl’s book and using ‘Ruby on Rails Explained for Front-End Developers’ as a reference, just as I am.

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