Essential Ruby & Rails 3 Reading

Nearly two years ago, we published a round-up of the greatest Ruby and Rails learning resources available. Since then, big things have happended in the glorious world of Ruby. Rails 3 brought many fundamental improvements to the framework. So, naturally, our "essential resources" list needed to be updated!

Read on for a round-up of the greatest articles, books, and screencasts to come out of the Ruby community!

1 - Beginning Ruby

  • Ruby Programming Language

    Ruby is… A dynamic, open source programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity. It has an elegant syntax that is natural to read and easy to write.

  • TryRuby

    Try out Ruby in an interactive console directly in your browser! Enter help to start a 15-minute interactive tutorial.

  • Ruby Koans

    The Koans walk you along the path to enlightenment in order to learn Ruby. The goal is to learn the Ruby language, syntax, structure, and some common functions and libraries. We also teach you culture. Testing is not just something we pay lip service to, but something we live. It is essential in your quest to learn and do great things in the language.

    The koans are broken out into areas by file, hashes are covered in about_hashes.rb, modules are introduced in about_modules.rb, etc. They are presented in order in the path_to_enlightenment.rb file.

  • Ruby for Newbies

    This ongoing video session will introduce you to Ruby, as well as the great frameworks and tools that go along with Ruby development. If you’re hoping to make the switch, now is the perfect time to get started!

  • Hackety Hack

    Hackety Hack will teach you the absolute basics of programming from the ground up. No previous programming experience is needed!

    With Hackety Hack, you'll learn the Ruby programming language Ruby is used for all kinds of programs, including desktop applications and websites.

  • PeepCode – Ruby 1.9 series

    PeepCode has teamed up with Gregg Pollack and David A. Black of Envycasts to provide you with their current library of screencasts!

    Jump into the future of Ruby with this two part series on the distinguishing new features of Ruby 1.9. Topics covered in this 41-minute screencast include: hashes, arrays, symbols, enumerators, enuerable and RubyGems.

2 - Beginning Rails

  • Ruby on Rails Tutorial: Learn Rails by Example

    The Ruby on Rails 3 Tutorial book and screencast series teach you how to develop and deploy real, industrial-strength web applications with Ruby on Rails, the open-source web framework that powers many top websites, including Hulu, GitHub, and the Yellow Pages. The companion screencast series includes 12 individual lessons totaling more than 15 hours. The best deal is the PDF/screencast bundle, which includes more than 500 pages of total content and more than 15 hours of video.

  • Dive into Rails 3

    Gregg Pollack from EnvyLabs presents five short video tutorials to help you learn about all the new components found in Rails 3 like Bundler, Active Model and Active Relation, as well as the new syntax of the router and Action Mailer. It's everything you need to get started.

  • CodeSchool – Rails for Zombies

    In this free course Gregg Pollack from Envy Labs will walk you the basics of learning Ruby on Rails in five levels, each of which is followed by a series of code challenges where you get to start coding Rails immediately in the browser.

  • Rails Guides - Getting Started with Rails

    Install Rails, create an application, using databases, the principles of MVC and RESTful design – this is an essential resource for getting started with Rails and learning the best practices.

  • PeepCode – Meet Rails 3 series

    This 75 minute screencast introduces Rails 3, the result of two years of low-level improvements, API refinements, and performance optimizations. If you are just learning Rails or if you have limited knowledge and want to learn more, this is the video for you!

    This highly-polished screencast will give you a gentle introduction to the ideas that have transformed modern web development.

  • SitePoint – Getting Started with Rails 3

    Today, I’m going to show you a quick example of building a simple Rails 3 application to give you an idea of what working with Rails is like. For this tutorial in two parts, we’ll be building a database-backed application: a URL shortener named "Shorty."

  • Create a Simple Music Streaming App with Ruby on Rails

    Amazon S3 is a great way to store files, but learning how to integrate it into your website can be a challenge. In this article, you will learn how to integrate Amazon S3 and Ruby on Rails through the construction of a simple music streaming application.

  • Ruby and Rails for Attractive .NET Developers

    The thoughts of a .NET developer as they learn the world of Ruby and Rails.

  • ThinkVitamin Membership

    High quality video training to keep you on the cutting edge.

  • Build a Dropbox-like File Sharing Site with Ruby on Rails

    In this massive and advanced Premium Nettuts+ tutorial, we’ll learn how to build a file-sharing web application, like Dropbox, using Ruby on Rails.

  • Rails for PHP Developers: Reference Guide

    If you’re proficient with PHP, you already have the essential skills needed to build web applications. This site will present an ongoing discussion of techniques for learning Rails and Ruby from a PHP perspective.

3 - Advanced Resources

  • CodeSchool – Rails Best Practices

    The Ruby on Rails framework uses a great deal of convention over configuration, which means that if you follow the golden path and develop in a certain way you can do away with lots of the configuration involved. Unfortunately as your system starts to become complex, so can your code, and without proper design patterns and techniques your codebase can quickly devolve. In this course we’ve put together some of the most useful patterns, so you can keep your code clean and maintainable.

  • Railscasts

    Every week Ryan Bates will host a new Railscasts episode featuring tips and tricks with Ruby on Rails. These screencasts are short and focus on one technique so you can quickly move on to applying it to your own project. The topics target the intermediate Rails developer, but beginners and experts will get something out of it as well.

    Prefer text tutorials? Check out the next item.

  • ASCIIcasts

    Railscasts (above) is the #1 resource for quickly learning new Rails tricks. If you prefer text tutorials over video, ASCIIcasts is for you!

    ASCIIcasts are detailed, illustrated text versions of each Railscast, each with a link to the original video.

  • Live Coding Rails 3 Upgrade

    For several months people have wondered, “Where can I download a video that features a developer stumbling through an upgrade of a Rails 2 app to Rails 3?” I’m proud to say that an answer is now available!

    In only 25 minutes, I convert my news screenshot site from Rails 2.x to Rails 3 (prerelease, from source). It features the newest bundler (0.9.0.pre), Jeremy McAnally’s rails-upgrade script, new routes, Arel-based ActiveRecord queries, and more.

    Stay tuned for the explosions at the end!

  • RubySource – 10 RoR Best Practicies

    If you’re new to Ruby on Rails, one of the most daunting aspects is knowing what’s the preferred way of accomplishing a given task. While a lot of techniques and libraries have come and gone as the community’s preferred way of doing something, there are some best practices that remain, and can lead to writing the cleanest, most secure and maintainable Rails code possible.

    Listed here today are ten of the most popular and useful best practices you can use as a Ruby developer.

  • Ruby Quicktips

    Random Ruby and Rails tips. This blog is dedicated to deliver short, interesting and practical tidbits of the Ruby language and Ruby on Rails framework.

  • RubySource – Introducing Test-Driven Development with Rails 3

    An introduction to following a TDD approach when developing your Ruby on Rails applications.

  • 5 Awesome New Rails 3 Features

    Finally found the time to upgrade from Rails 2, to 3? Keep reading to learn five of the most awesome new features in Ruby Rails 3.

  • Rails Forum – Tutorials

    A collection of community-produced short tutorials covering a huge range of Rails techniques, from beginners advice and installation to debugging and tests.

  • Singing with Sinatra

    In this Session, we’ll be taking a look at Sinatra; a small, yet incredibly powerful DSL for quickly creating Ruby web applications. You’ll learn everything from installing the framework, all the way up to building an app.

4 - Ruby Books

  • Programming Ruby 1.9

    Affectionately known simply as the ‘PickAxe’ in the Ruby community (due to the PickAxe on the cover), this is almost Ruby’s de-facto official book. A must-have for any serious Rubyist!

    The First Edition of the PickAxe is available for free at Ruby Central.

  • The Ruby Programming Language

    Bestselling author David Flanagan teams up with Ruby creator Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto and writer/cartoonist/programmer why the lucky stiff to bring you the authoritative guide to Ruby. Covering versions 1.9 and 1.8, this book helps you learn Ruby’s lexical structure, primary expressions, conditionals, syntax, classes, the data it manipulates, and more. For experienced programmers who want to look at this language in depth, this guide is invaluable.

  • Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby

    Written by Ruby’s very own crazy-genius, why the lucky stiff (or _why), this is a free and very unusual guide to the language. Take a read through the first few pages, and you’ll see why this book is a massive success.

  • The Ruby Way

    The Ruby Way takes a “how-to” approach to Ruby programming with the bulk of the material consisting of more than 400 examples arranged by topic. Each example answers the question “How do I do this in Ruby?” Working along with the author, you are presented with the task description and a discussion of the technical constraints. This is followed by a step-by-step presentation of one good solution. Along the way, the author provides detailed commentary and explanations to aid your understanding.

    This book is not recommended for beginners to Ruby, however.

  • The RSpec Book

    Behaviour-Driven Development (BDD) gives you the best of Test Driven Development, Domain Driven Design, and Acceptance Test Driven Planning techniques, so you can create better software with self-documenting, executable tests that bring users and developers together with a common language.

    Get the most out of BDD in Ruby with The RSpec Book, written by the lead developer of RSpec, David Chelimsky.

  • Everyday Scripting with Ruby

    Everyday Scripting with Ruby is divided into four parts. In the first, you’ll learn the basics of the Ruby scripting language. In the second, you’ll see how to create scripts in a steady, controlled way using test-driven design. The third part is about finding, understanding, and using the work of others – and about preparing your scripts for others to use. The fourth part, more advanced, is about saving even more time by using application frameworks.

  • Eloquent Ruby

    It’s easy to write correct Ruby code, but to gain the fluency needed to write great Ruby code, you must go beyond syntax and absorb the “Ruby way” of thinking and problem solving. In Eloquent Ruby, Russ Olsen helps you write Ruby like true Rubyists do–so you can leverage its immense, surprising power.

    Olsen draws on years of experience internalizing the Ruby culture and teaching Ruby to other programmers. He guides you to the “Ah Ha!” moments when it suddenly becomes clear why Ruby works the way it does, and how you can take advantage of this language’s elegance and expressiveness.

  • The Well-Groomed Rubyist

    The Well-Grounded Rubyist takes you from interested novice to proficient practitioner. It's a beautifully written tutorial that begins with the basic steps to get your first Ruby program up and running and goes on to explore sophisticated topics like callable objects, reflection, and threading The book concentrates on the language, preparing you for any way you may choose to use Ruby. Whether the topic is simple or tough, the book's easy-to-follow examples and explanations give you immediate confidence as you build your Ruby programming skills.

5 - Rails Books

  • Agile Web Development with Rails

    This book is essentially the de-facto official Rails book.

    Rails just keeps on changing. Rails 3 and Ruby 1.9 bring hundreds of improvements, including new APIs and substantial performance enhancements. The fourth edition of this award-winning classic has been reorganized and refocused so it’s more useful than ever before for developers new to Ruby and Rails.

  • The Rails 3 Way

    Ruby on Rails strips complexity from the development process, enabling professional developers to focus on what matters most: delivering business value via clean and maintainable code. The Rails™ 3 Way is the only comprehensive, authoritative guide to delivering production-quality code with Rails 3. Pioneering Rails expert Obie Fernandez and a team of leading experts illuminate the entire Rails 3 API, along with the idioms, design approaches, and libraries that make developing applications with Rails so powerful. Drawing on their unsurpassed experience and track record, they address the real challenges development teams face, showing how to use Rails 3 to maximize your productivity.

  • Beginning Rails 3

    Rails 3 is a massive shake-up to the Rails community because it includes the surprise merger of the powerful Merb framework. This means a lot of people will be interested in knowing what’s new in Rails if they’ve used it before, and getting started with it from scratch if they haven’t.

6 - Misc Resources

  • The Changelog

    The Changelog is a weekly podcast and blog that covers what's fresh and new in Open Source.

  • Ruby5 Podcast

    A regular podcast covering the latest news in the Ruby and Rails community.

  • The Ruby Show

    "The Ruby Show is the best Ruby-related podcast of all time, featuring news and discussion about the latest topics in the Ruby and Rails communities."

  • Rails Searchable API Doc

    A JavaScript-enhanced, fast and searchable implementation of the Rails API Docs.



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